The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control
Ensuring public safety with the Content Cloud
KEY USE CASES
Permit project management
Field operations management
PRODUCTS & INTEGRATIONS
- Existing content workflow involved large sets of architectural plans, so the team needed a solution that could handle collaboration and management of large files
- Customers could upload documents in multiple ways, which was confusing, and the team wasn’t always notified when documents were uploaded or shared
- With a lot of different stakeholders at various points in the permitting process, well-executed notifications are essential
- Switching from Dropbox to Box tightened content security and created an opportunity to revamp the workflow
- With partner Reva, the Division of Fire created a data structure in Salesforce, mirrored in Box, to better support project workflows
- Changes in Box folders and Salesforce records trigger notifications to staff and external stakeholders throughout the processes
Fire prevention and code compliance in firefighting
When people think about firefighting, what first comes to mind is humans: victims in peril and heroic firefighters battling the blaze. What doesn’t typically cross the mind is paperwork, but in fact, paperwork is a huge factor when it comes to fighting fires — or, more accurately, preventing them in the first place.
The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control serves its community in several different ways, including training firefighters and suppressing fires. But equally lifesaving is the work they do around building, fire, and life safety code enforcement. As a division of the Department of Public Safety, the Division of Fire owns everything “fire-related” at the State level, including overseeing school fire safety and building codes, fire suppression systems, and handling state inspections on health and school facilities that receive state dollars.
As a state agency, the Division of Fire is beholden to all the same governmental regulations any Colorado and US organization would be, so any tools that hold and share content must be compliant. But like all government agencies, the Division of Fire also struggled with digitally streamlining workflows and better serving the public.
Streamlining the permitting process to ensure safety faster
As the very first Salesforce administrator that the Division of Fire hired, Records Manager Amy Klingenberg oversees all things content. When she started her new role, right away, she spotted a severely inefficient workflow.
One of the main focuses of the agency, the permitting workflow occurs right in Salesforce. The old process centered around a series of Excel spreadsheets and fillable PDFs. When people submitted a permit application, they had the option of uploading drawings and specs to Dropbox or directly to a Salesforce record, leading to process inconsistencies and scattered content. Often, people would put content in both places, and as Klingenberg describes, “The versioning was a nightmare. We couldn’t keep track of any project. We'd have to look in four places to see if the documents were there.”
Documents were both harder to find and harder to secure. “For me, this was bad,” she continues. “Our processes were inefficient. Moving to Box gave us the opportunity to build out integration with Salesforce and refine our processes.”
There was also another issue: document security. Around four years ago, the State’s Office of Information Technology mandated a universal switch to Box — considered a more secure and compliant platform than Dropbox. Converting to Box would enable them to isolate and quarantine suspicious files, but it also became the launching point to solve a lot of content issues the department had been dealing with — as well as to integrate with Salesforce.
Shifting to the Content Cloud
During the move to the Content Cloud, the Division of Fire worked with Reva Solutions, a third-party systems integrator. Their first project was to create a custom integration between Box and Salesforce that would make the entire permitting process seamless in the eyes of both the public and agency employees.
Often, a permitting process begins when a member of the public accesses the digital system to fill out paperwork — for instance, a permit for a school construction project. Once the applicant hits submit, automation takes over, and a Box folder is created. The applicant now has a place to upload documents, such as architectural drawings, to support the request. Then various other stakeholders get involved.
As Klingenberg describes it, most of the construction projects that DFPC oversees have a few stages:
- At the intake stage, the Division of Fire gathers all necessary information and plans
- Next, projects go through plan review with trained architects and plan reviewers
- Then the Division of Fire issues a permit for construction, and when projects are ready, inspectors access the reviewed architectural plans and supporting documents in Box to complete their inspections onsite
- The final result is, ideally, a Certificate of Compliance or Occupancy, or project completion letter — also stored in Box
Klingenberg explains, “We have so many hands in the permit process — the architects, the general contractors, the subcontractors on site, the building officials, the fire officials — and they all need to collaborate. Everyone has different needs. They are in the field; they're in their car; they're working for another government agency. Box allows us to share and collaborate in a way that makes it easy for anyone and helps us move the project forward in a secure way.”
Enthusiastic adoption that’s led to efficiency and productivity
Salesforce is now integrated with Box so that ultimately, the content produced — applications, permits, plans, supporting documents — lives securely in Box, and only specific people have access to specific folders.
Reva Solutions also helped the Division of Fire create automated custom notifications to ping the right stakeholders when documents are added to particular folders. Most projects have a lot of stakeholders, and various people need to be notified at different stages of the permitting process. Once a plan is reviewed, it’s moved to the inspection phase, at which point the inspector needs to be notified. A lot of these inspectors are also firefighters, so they’re often out in the field, as opposed to sitting at a desk.
“They’re not computer people,” Klingenberg says. “Asking them to manually sign up for notifications for each project would be impossible. But now that we have Box set up, we've automated twice-daily mobile notifications. We’ve automated the whole process through Box.” Projects don’t get stuck because there’s information missing.
3 things the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control loves about Box:
“I’m a firm believer that your system should support your process,” Klingenberg says. “Even the people who were hesitant to go with Salesforce to begin with are now seeing the benefits of doing things the right way with Box. It’s driving user adoption; it’s driving efficiency; it’s driving productivity.”
With the successful foray into Box so far, the Division of Fire is now looking into using the Content Cloud for managing grants and reimbursements, and expanding it to support professional firefighter testing and training. “Everyone sees the positive impact,” Klingenberg confirms. “The huge win is that it's driving adoption of the system. And I have buy-in to keep building it out.”
Klingenberg sums up the benefits of the Content Cloud in three short phrases.
- Integration with Salesforce is probably number one for me.
- Ease of use. That’s right up there. Document access and ease of use is needed in every step of our processes.
- Security is really important for us. We need a secure, stable system for large files that allows us to easily access our documents and our work environments. That’s the whole reason we moved to Box.
By integrating Box with Salesforce we are able to automate processes and save time. Our integration is helping us to be efficient throughout our processes.