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Permit Automation Helps Florida District Streamline Projects

Hernando County School District is using Nintex software to speed up the permitting process for capital projects. Officials say the platform cut the time it took to get projects approved by more than half.

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As schools become increasingly reliant on digital tools to enhance learning both inside and outside of the classroom, K-12 officials have also turned to technology to help build and renovate the classrooms and schools themselves.

With building projects looming last year, officials in Florida’s Hernando County School District looked to software from the Washington-based company Nintex to automate the issuance of permits for HVAC replacements, roofing upgrades and renovations to athletics facilities.

According to the company, the Nintex Process Platform starts with a digital form that project managers and contractors can complete to request building permits. From there, the tool manages the collection of data, routing and approvals before creating a permit and requesting signatures from officials.

Brian Ragan, the district’s director of facilities and construction, said the software drastically reduced the time it took for staff to get the green light on facility upgrades. He said the district is relying on the platform to speed up renovations at Brooksville, Westside and Suncoast elementary schools, where construction is now taking place to add classroom capacity.

“Now that the software is implemented, it saves countless hours in processing and tracking permits and assures all the proper steps in the process are followed. Our staff was already overworked, and this frees them up to do other important tasks,” he said in an email to Government Technology.

Terry Simpson, senior solutions engineer at Nintex, said the platform can cut the time needed to handle documents by up to 90 percent. He said the need to speed up the building permit process was crucial in a district as large as Hernando, which serves 23,000 students across 33 sites.

“Before, when they would go to implement a project, they needed to get all the right permitting in place before they could start, and it was taking them [about] two weeks to get all of that done to get the process formalized,” he said, noting that the process now takes about three days.

Simpson said the company has offered its workflow software to schools and other organizations in both the public and private sectors, with a total of 10,000 customers using Nintex software for a variety of administrative processes.

Simpson said Nintex saw growth among its customer base in K-12 and higher education during COVID-19, which he attributed to the software’s “no-code" user-friendliness, allowing staff with limited IT expertise to implement it.

“They can build a form and automate a process in a matter of hours or days and get value out of it instead of it being a long-running project,” he said, adding that the tool can be used for a number of other administrative functions.

“For the most part, Nintex’s digital products really don’t need that many professional services because they’re able to build these things and get them done on their own.”

The district plans to use the platform for other administrative processes moving forward, based on the success of using the software for building permits.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.