During the pandemic, there has been an increase in electronic plans being submitted online and reviewed electronically. Currently, in ePermitting, customers can upload plans on ACA but the electronic plan review and mark up is happening outside Accela in either Bluebeam or Adobe Acrobat Pro.
ePermitting is interested in providing some enhanced options:
Live Video Inspections, Photo Uploads and More Upgrades Coming to Contractor and Inspector Apps
Over the past six months, the ePermitting team has been working to develop and add new features to both the Oregon Inspector App and the Oregon ePermitting Contractor Scheduling App. New features that we have been testing, allow inspectors to initiate and conduct live video inspections without physically being on the jobsite, as well as allow contractors or homeowners to upload photos directly to their scheduled inspections through the apps. Additionally, the apps will include Push Notifications that can be sent manually by the inspector when there are updates, and automatically when an inspection is resulted or rescheduled. New direct messaging functionality will allow individuals to communicate with the inspector assigned to do their inspection without having to track down contact information. Other tools for the apps that are in development include a menu with submittal instructions/examples for contractors, fillable forms for contractors to access and submit from the field, as well as an offline queue that stores photos uploaded if there is no service available. All of these tools have been the direct result of contractor/inspector feedback and collaboration, and are being added to provide much needed additional flexibility to both contractors and inspectors for both specific and unique business cases. We would like to thank the inspectors and contractors that have assisted us in developing and testing these features from the ground up and look forward to starting our Phase 1 Pilot Program with several other jurisdictions across the state once we finalize the current app upgrades.
Over the next month, the ePermitting team will be reaching out and working with several jurisdictions across the state to train both inspectors and contractors on the new features as part of our Phase 1 Pilot Program. This initial phase will help us ensure that each tool functions properly, and will allow us to work out any issues before finalizing the apps for full release. These apps will be available for both iOS and Android devices when finalized and then will be released statewide. For more information please contact Jerod Broadfoot, ePermitting Outreach and Training Coordinator via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can set a custom landing/home page in Accela, rather than using the Dashboard view that is currently the default landing page in Accela.
To set a custom landing/home page, follow these quick steps (Important Note: these steps cannot be done while delegated in thru Oregon, favorites and home pages must be set directly by logging in to each individual agency):
We’ve had a lot of questions recently about the Dashboard versus the My Tasks page in Accela. Here is some helpful information to help you decide which view/page is best for you.
The Dashboard is the default landing/home page when you first login to Accela each day, it is the upper-most left icon in the blue. When the task cards/list is first displayed at login, it is not accurate – you must first apply a filter to it for the displayed items to be correct. The suggested filter to start with is ‘My Active Tasks’ or ‘My Active Tasks – All Modules’ – either of these specific filters will show you all of your assigned Workflow tasks for your preferred module or for all modules, depending on which you select. All system filters are available in the My Filters dropdown to be applied. Filter results/displayed task cards cannot be further sorted or exported in any way. There are some quick controls available on each task card type (three dots in upper right-hand corner of the card) that can be helpful for resulting inspections or assigning unassigned Workflow tasks.
My Tasks is a page available from Launchpad > All Pages, you can favorite it here to add it to Your Pages. This page contains all the exact same information as the Dashboard, but is organized into the four functional assignment areas in Accela – Workflow, Inspection, Document Review, and Activities. In this way, all of the displayed tasks are not commingled – and the available Filters for each of the four tabs are also specific to that assignment area. The Workflow tab includes only Workflow-related filters, the Inspection tab includes only Inspection-related filters, and so on. Once data is displayed on any given tab, the data/filter results can be further sorted (by Address, Record Type, Assigned To, Assigned Date, Due Date, Task Type, etc) by clicking the column header. The displayed data/filter results can also be exported to Excel and/or printed if needed. We tend to recommend the My Tasks page over the Dashboard, particularly for newer users as it is more organized into the different assignment areas as are the Filters for each area, requiring much less in-depth knowledge of the system and of the filters which can be very helpful. Also the added functionality of being able to sort and export can be much more efficient when processing the filter results for yourself or for your workgroup. You can set My Tasks as your custom landing/home page, if desired – so the Dashboard would no longer be displayed by default at login – to do this see the Setting a Customer Landing/Home Page in Accela article, article in this months January BLOG.
Important Note! Although some user groups might have permissions to do so, never delete any items from the Dashboard or from the My Tasks page – doing so will actually delete these items (tasks/inspections/documents/activities) from the database and from your records. ePermitting has had only mixed success in restoring data that has been deleted in this way, so please be very aware that you aren’t just deleting ‘completed’ items from your task list, you are actually deleting them altogether!
By default, inspection calendars block out the following dates for all agencies. If your agency deviates from this schedule, please email the help desk at ePermitsHelp.BCD@Oregon.gov to block out the appropriate dates. Please note that we need a two-week notice to effectively update a calendar and avoid any unwanted inspections to be scheduled.
The "Inspection Calendar Block Out Dates" report methodology:
Important Reminder About Letting Customers Know When You Reschedule Inspections
When you reschedule an inspection there is NOT an automated message that gets sent from Accela to let the customer know that the inspection has been rescheduled.
You need to let them know that you have rescheduled the inspection.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an Accela option to send an automated email when you use the Reschedule function/button – We will suggest the ‘automated email at Reschedule option’ to Accela, because it certainly would be nice to have.
For more information on Resulting inspections, see Resulting Inspections so your trips count.
Accela Version Upgrade
The ePermitting team is starting to take a look at the newest versions of Accela to determine the best version for our next Accela upgrade. We’ll begin the upgrade process in the next couple of months which will start with the ePermitting team doing some extensive testing in our Dev environment. The testing and upgrade will progress through our other environments and we’ll eventually be asking the daily agency users to do some testing before we upgrade production. We are hopeful to have the Accela upgrade complete by late spring and will keep you updated as the project progresses.
Due to the high demand for Accela 101 Basics Training since Covid began, we have added a weekly training session (3-part series) to assist agencies who have lost their in-house experts/trainers or are needing a refresher of the basics. We have a lot of agencies that have lost their experts or are dealing with recent or high turnover, so training to ‘hit the ground running’ is now being offered. Submit a ticket to the Kayako helpdesk to request information on the current training schedule and availability.
TIP #1 - Take a moment in the new year to work with your local IT team at your agency to whitelist the Kayako email domain, to add *.kayako.com to your agency whitelist as a safe sender. Doing this will assure that your agency receives all Kayako replies on any tickets submitted. Otherwise some replies will end up going to your junk mail, you will miss our replies, which will delay our attempts at providing you with timely solutions, information, and guidance. On many occasions, agencies have reached out saying they have not heard on a ticket they submitted, when nearly every time, we have already replied but they did not receive the sent reply as it went to spam/junk.
TIP #2 - Please do NOT ever include the helpdesk email (epermitshelp.BCD@dcbs.oregon.gov) as a cc on an internal/external email discussion. Emails sent to this address automatically create a helpdesk ticket – so with each reply in your email discussion with a contractor or coworker, a new ticket is potentially created, multiple times over. Also, if forwarding an email discussion to the Kayako help desk for assistance, please summarize the issue you are seeking help for at the top of the email when submitting.
TIP #3 - The Kayako help desk and email is for jurisdictions subscribing to ePermitting – this is not the same help desk as for contractors or outside parties, so please do not provide this help desk email to your external customers. Instead please feel free to provide them with the contractor/external customer help desk email at email@example.com - or they/you can call 503-373-7396 for immediate support.
We will soon be implementing Virtual Folders in all OSM agencies. Virtual folders are way to further categorize documents. This will be a phased roll out starting with permit/review record types in the Building module.
Virtual folders will not duplicate the document types but, instead, are meant to further help identify/categorize documents both in the back office and in ACA. In the back office the File Name and Document Name are both shown in the document record list. Unfortunately, the same is not true for ACA. In ACA we are only able to display the file name (the actual name of the uploaded file).
To associate a virtual folder with a document:
1. When in the add document form, click on the hand picker icon for Virtual Folders.
2. A new window will pop up within the form. Check the box in front of the folder you’d like to associate to the document and click the OK button.
3. Notice that there is an Add button. This will allow agency users (any users that have access to add documents) to add a virtual folder “on the fly”. Virtual folders, once added here, would be available to associate to any document that references the same virtual folder group (we’re starting with just one virtual folder group for the permit and review record types within the Building module in this first phase of roll out). We caution you to be judicious in creating folders. One of the intents here is to make it easier for customers to find certain types of documents that they may have difficulty sifting through, especially on larger projects.
4. When a Virtual folder is associated, it will appear in the Virtual Folder column in the record document list. In the record document list, users may sort by clicking on the column header.
5. In ACA, it will appear like this and customers have the ability to sort by clicking on the column header:
OSM Changes from the Last Few Months
Workflow Enhancements Coming
We will be adding an additional parallel review task to Commercial Mechanical records. We’ve had requests to add a new review for some time. In the past we’ve recommended using the ad-hoc workflow task for these reviews, however, we’ve heard from several agencies that they need this additional review every time. In order to preserve flexibility, without bogging down the model, we’ll be adding a review task simply called “Additional Review”. When advancing the workflow to “Ready for Plan Review”, the user will have the ability to select (or deselect) the Additional Review task.
If both reviews are activated, the workflow will always progress to the Completion task after the reviews are complete (even if “Approved for Completeness” is not selected for the Mechanical Review). If “Additional Review” is not activated, users will still need to select “Approved for Completeness” for the Mechanical Review if they would like the workflow to move to Completeness rather than to Permit Issuance.
If you require more than one additional review, you will need to use adhoc workflow for the other(s).
This will be a phased project, with other record types receiving the same enhancement in the future.
Please be aware that this content is relevant at the time it is published, but as time goes on may become out-of-date. We will do our best to keep the content alive and relevant.
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