Process Optimization for a Building Safety Agency

Process Analysis and Systems Modernization Planning for a Major Municipal Buildings Safety Agency

Spruce partnered with a major city government client to analyze the department’s cumbersome and archaic mainframe-based processes, and provide recommendations for digital transformation. The goal of the project was to identify specific pain points and determine the most efficient way to transition to a more flexible and accessible modern platform.

The client for this project is a city department that was faced with a truly monumental task. The agency’s responsibilities included processing data and applications for structures and buildings spread across a large area, with functions ranging from permitting to inspection to enforcing regulations. This means that the client was processing millions of data inputs on a regular basis. With such a gargantuan responsibility, the client’s tech infrastructure needed to be modernized and rebuilt to efficiently handle the massive intake of information.

The focus of the project was to strengthen the overall efficiency of business operations. Spruce’s team worked with the decision makers within the client organization to simultaneously eliminate wasteful protocols and identify opportunities to streamline business practices. Through extensive interviews conducted with agency stakeholders and employees, Spruce completed a thorough analysis of the existing system to identify pain points and understand the current state of the operation. Spruce worked directly with stakeholders to identify opportunities to strengthen and streamline business processes, specifically focusing on eliminating operational functions that were inefficient, ineffective, and inhibited by mainframe limitations. Spruce was able to recommend improvements in high level processes surrounding job filing, objection standardization, interagency communications, and tracking data.

With these findings in hand, Spruce issued a roadmap of recommendations which included implementing a workflow automation platform already owned by the agency to improve its processes around job filings, compliance filings and inspections—thereby maximizing return on their IT investment and reducing the cost of a modernization effort. To help them confirm this decision, Spruce developed a Proof of Concept prototype, enabling Agency employees to test the solution on a small scale for a small investment.

The improvements recommended by Spruce resulted in tangible positive changes in the realm of real-time plan examination and site inspection communication, payment management, processing and management of violations, and the tracking of bad actors within the system. The recommended roadmap also resulted in a major internal campaign to implement a multi-million-dollar digital transformation that improved system performance, automated workflows, and improved customer service: The resulting system has reduced in-person visits by over 20%, provides customers 24/7 access to filing status, and decreased processing time from weeks to days. As a result, the client sees less organizational backlog and is more transparent to constituents.


This agency faced substantial challenges in efficiently processing the many construction job filings submitted by the public as they prepare for building construction projects. Data was maintained in an outdated and relatively inaccessible legacy mainframe system, transparency into the filing process was limited, and permit processing was slow, as the on-site paper application process could not efficiently handle the necessary volume of over 140,000 construction permits. It was imperative that the agency implement a new system to improve the entire process around issuing these permits.


Spruce assessed the client’s existing platforms and identified areas for improvement, analyzing the client’s utilization of Microsoft Access and other legacy technologies as part of a modernization effort. Spruce then developed and presented a plan to migrate from legacy technologies to modern tools. We worked directly with the client to implement the plan, resulting in increased efficiency and better workflow automation across its operations. The resulting system has reduced in-person visits by over 20%, provides customers 24/7 access to filing status, and decreased processing time from weeks to days.

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