Turnover in City Planning Departments

December 20, 2022
Rob Foster
Chief Experience Officer

How software impacts turnover when it comes to city planning (and other government departments).

Turnover is a Problem for Any Organization

If you work in a city planning, building or other government offices and have been with the same people for more than five years, you're lucky. Many government offices can experience high levels of turnover. This happens for a number of reasons but the impact on those who stay can be significant. One of the biggest ways this affects productivity is through technology and software training or onboarding. Every new app someone has to learn is another hill to climb for the new employee. And the bigger the hill, the longer the climb and the more of your time is used in helping them get up to speed.

City Planning and Building Department Software

We specifically mention city planning offices because the software vendors in this space often have built software that isn't used anywhere else. Other departments use things most people are comfortable with, like Microsoft Office, email, etc. But city planning and building departments have specific needs and specialized software that serves those needs. In our experience, and in the experience of many people we've met in this space, the design of planning and building software leaves a lot to be desired.

The Impact of Bad Design

Poor software design can hinder employees' ability to perform their job duties effectively and make their onboarding process more challenging. This can lead to frustration and a longer learning curve for new employees, which can impact their overall job satisfaction and retention.

There are several factors that can contribute to good software design for onboarding new employees, including:

  • Clear and intuitive user interfaces: A clear and intuitive user interface can make it easier for new employees to learn and use the software.
  • Adequate documentation: Adequate documentation, such as user guides and training materials, can help new employees understand how to use the software and perform their job duties effectively.
  • Efficient and reliable performance: Efficient and reliable software can help new employees perform their job duties more efficiently and with fewer errors, which can facilitate their onboarding process.

How Does This Happen?

So why and how does software get complicated in the first place? There are a few reasons for this. One reason is that niche software companies are often started by people who have worked in the space before. They understand the pains of those in the department and want to solve it. They're scratching their own itch, in a way. The problem with this is that they often don't have a background in software design and development. They only understand the pain. But software design is a really hard thing to get right and you only get good at it after about 10 years of experience (on average).

Another reason software gets complicated is because of what I like to call the "Sales Arms Race." This is when software vendors are looking to match each other in feature lists. Because of this, they build everything they can think of to make their feature list look better than their competitors in the sales process. But this only ends up bloating the software to the point that it's borderline unusable.

What's the Solution?

ZipFlow was design based on a principle we've learned over many decades of experience in software development. We abide by the Pareto principle of software development. This means we only build the 20% of features needed by 80% of our customers. We don't build niche features hardly any one needs. We also don't build something just because other vendors built something. We listen to the market and our customers more than we pay any attention to our competitors. This means that we're only building something that's needed and wanted. The result is software that planning and building departments love to use.

Rob Foster
Chief Experience Officer
Rob has been designing amazing customer experiences for over 20 years. He’s crafted delightful software and led design teams for companies such as Ancestry, Vivint Solar, Kuali, and many others. His product design contributions on these teams have resulted in major accolades from customers and have contributed to higher customer satisfaction for the products.

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