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Smarter Planning Champion status for businesses

by on October 3, 2013

Since the launch of the Smarter Planning (SP) scheme in November last year 205 organisations have achieved SP Champion status by consistently meeting the best practice guidelines of the scheme and submitting all applications online. 116 (56.5%) of these are sole practitioners, 69 (33.6%) SMEs and 20 (9.75%) larger agents.

Our busy Account Management (AM) team have been working closely with a specific group of these larger agents and their work with these organisations continues to have a positive impact. In the last 3-months many of them submitted more online applications in one month than they submitted in any previous month. So far 3 have achieved SP Champion status. The first was Jones Lang LaSalle in January 2013, closely followed by Barton Willmore and Bartlett Tree Experts

Corporate SP Champions are a rare breed because Champion status can only be achieved when their senior executive accepts the principles of the scheme and authorises the training of all appropriate staff in each regional office to ensure they are equipped to fully utilise the Portal. Once trained user applications are monitored to see if they continue to meet the guidelines and adhere to their organisations commitment to submit all possible planning applications online before the status is awarded. 

Since becoming the first Corporate SP Champions these organisations have almost doubled (+99.4%) their online submission rates.  Based on recent performance and assuming similar levels of business activity, the group is set to submit almost the same number of applications in the remaining 6-months of 2013/14 as they did in the 12-months prior to achieving SP Champions status.

 The AMs aim to award Champion status to a further 5 of the targeted accounts by the end of October 2013, one year on from the launch of the scheme. When recruited this group will submit an estimated 1,800 – 2,000 additional online applications/annum. These additional online submissions will help us meet this year’s KPI-1 target – 74% of all applications online by March 2014.

 So what’s so smart about being an SP Champion?

In addition to the industry recognised benefits of using the Portal’s Online Application service (1APP) SP Champions have reported a number of other important but less obvious business benefits.

Here are some examples:

 SP Champions are making full use of 1APPs built-in workflow to build applications in the period from contact award to submission. They are completing application forms and certificates, attaching drawings, plans and other supporting documentation as soon as the information becomes available, safe in the knowledge that all elements of the application can be edited, amended or replaced up to the time of submission. This avoids the error prone scramble to retrieve attachments from various locations to compile and submit applications in the last days or sometimes within hours of the agreed/contracted submission date. 

 Using 1APP supports SP Champions internal processes and is helping to reduce indemnity insurance costs. Compiling the application in one secure remote location makes it easier to review, build up, manage and sign-off applications. This avoids delay and helps improve quality control, reduce risk and maintain a clear audit trial. 

Implementing the Portal’s Agent Administration function (an SP scheme requirement for everyone other than sole practitioners) is helping to secure the intellectual property of SP Champions. The administration facility allows the user accounts of ex-employees to be deactivated so preventing access to the applications they previously worked on (including supporting documents, drawings and plans) before leaving the organisation, possibly to be employed by competitors.

Dept heads, project managers and team leaders are using the Agent Administration facility to set-up and manage temporary teams of users, enabling them to contribute specialist elements to an application, often from remote regional offices. Once completed the ‘Administrator’ can either submit the application themself or authorise one of the team to do so. Once the application is transferred to the LPA the team can be reallocated to other projects.

By fully utilising the Portal’s built-in document naming function, SP Champion submissions are dealt with more readily by LPAs with document management systems (DMS). These systems are used by Smarter Planning LPAs to support their paperless office objective. Correctly named supporting documents are easily tagged with the metadata needed for DMS processing  This greatly simplifies the task of assessing and consulting on applications, so speeding up the determination process.  

 SP Champions who follow Portal recommendations to compress documents for online submission have adopted this as standard practice for all documentation, reducing operational communications and archive storage space, so reducing retrieval times/costs.

2 Comments
  1. Andrew Hirst permalink

    it’s the first I’ve heard of this scheme

    • same here, I submit 100% of my apps through planning portal and dont have a clue about this scheme nor how to be apart of it.

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