|Cut paper bear artwork, Ace Hotel LA|
It's been just shy of a year since our organization contracted out most of the work to a permitting agency, so my colleague's job is supposed to be easier - the process is all online. We get email prompts to approve a request, and we just go into the system and click.
But the system is clunky, hard to navigate, so my colleague still uses her previous work methods to track her work.
"When a call or email request comes in," I was told when in training, "just take one of these forms and fill it out." She pulled a piece of paper from a folder and grabbed a pencil.
The paper had blanks to fill in, with things like Name, Date, Location, Contact Name, Phone Number.
Then, we refer the applicant to the contractor, who handles all the rest of the details in their online system.
I know it sounds crazy, but the online system doesn't have a calendar view, so then we take the pencil and write the exact same information in a "Week-at-a-glance" notebook calendar - this assures we won't double book activity spaces.
When the agency has completed the permit, the system prompts me for final approval. When this happens, I have to compare the information from the online system with the calendar and the penciled-in forms to make sure they're all correct. If there are any new details, I have to update the paperwork by hand. If I have any questions, I have to consult the paperwork for client contact info - the online system doesn't store email addresses or hyperlink to a message system.
At some later date, someone will have to enter all this information into a separate Excel spreadsheet, that will keep track of permits for each fiscal year.
So, to summarize - because we are working with an online system that:
1) doesn't maintain a calendar view
2) doesn't include hyperlinks
3) doesn't run reports
we are maintaining an entirely separate system similar to one used in 1970.
To "help" me, our office has a screener who takes the initial phone calls with requests. The calendar and file of info sheets live on her desk. So - adding to the inefficiency - anytime a permit request needs approval, I log into the system, pull up the online info, and then get up from my desk and go down the hall to retrieve the calendar and info sheet, before I can go into the online system and click "approved."
Is this insane? What year are we in, anyway? Why am I printing pieces of paper off my computer so that I can fill in the blanks with a pencil?