Small Business Friendly Approvals Program Has Seen First Signs Of Success.
The City of Wanneroo, one of the first local governments to start the Approval process on March 20, 2023, has a lot to prove its commitment to improving the operating conditions for local small-scale enterprises.
Collaboration on a concrete plan of action when the SBDC began its Approvals Program, a working group was created comprising members from across the functions of the City of Wanneroo. This whole-of-organization approach was critical in breaking down silos and driving transformational change.
The group was part of several workshops that had the following objectives:
- getting a complete understanding of the issues that small companies face
- identifying the most effective chances to effect positive change
Developing an implementation plan that will improve the way in which the City interacts and interacts with its small-business customers.
One of the first steps that the group did was to hear from small business owners in the local area about their experiences in establishing themselves in the City. The main topics that came up included:
- The difficulty of finding information on the licenses and permits needed
- There is a gap between small companies and the City staff
- lengthy and unpredictably long timeframes to get approvals
- disjointed application processes.
The SBDC was the facilitator. SBDC and SBDC, the group identified the customer experience and looked at ways to tackle these issues as well as improve internal efficiency and be in line with the strategic direction of the City of Wanneroo.
Four Focus Areas
The group identified four areas for reform to enhance the experience of opening a business within Wanneroo. The City of Wanneroo. The four themes included:
- The information is easy to access and easily accessible.
- A simplified process links all the areas.
- Business liaison is a great way to help small-sized companies.
- Automatic approval is the preferred option setting for some applications.
To ensure that the reforms are successful, reforms The working group formulated an implementation plan based on the suggestions of the internal experts on the subject matter.
The ambitious plan set out three, six, and longer-term goals that dealt with each aspect of reform. The most important aspect of the plan was identifying the internal controls that were required to ensure that approval for the program, including obtaining the necessary resources, naming a Project Officer, and integrating internal reporting obligations.
Progression toward small business-friendly Approvals Implementation Plan
In just a little over one year from when the plan for implementation was approved in less than a year by the City of Wanneroo Executive, the City has made impressive advancements in the implementation of changes that will make a huge impact on small businesses.
The information is easy to access and easily understood.
The two major achievements to make information easier and more easily accessible to small-sized businesses have been the development of the Business Wanneroo Brand and the Business Wanneroo website.
The reason for the business Wanneroo brand was to give more flexibility when it comes to providing and communicating information that is easy to understand, and that is less “government jargon” to local businesses.
With the growth of the brand, there was a demand for a platform for communicating with customers in a way that was easy to access, and a separate Business Wanneroo website was created and launched in June 2023 in order to enhance the experience of customers and improve the self-service options.
The website includes a variety of tools, including:
- Infographics to give a visual representation of the approvals procedure as well as each specific procedure for planning, building, and health approvals
- Interactive 3-D mapping tool to map the City’s principal commercial and industrial areas
- the option to schedule an online appointment for a pre-application interview and
- A self-assessment tool that assists companies in identifying the different types of approvals they require and the best way to obtain these approvals.
Self-service options are expanding, which means more time for staff members to help customers whenever they need to and provide customers with a better experience. Customers are also able to get the information they require quickly and efficiently without the assistance of a staff member.
The Business Wanneroo brand and website were officially launched at a breakfast of business held by the Wanneroo Business Association in partnership with the City of Wanneroo and hosted by Premier Western Australia in June 2023.
The auto-approval option is the default option for some applications.
The new processes were designed by internal teams to determine and automate approvals for the most appropriate actions so that companies could get instant approval after making online forms.
Auto-approval of burn permits, as well as businesses that are based at home (category one) applications, was deemed to be important and were among the first applications to be approved.
The process of auto-approval for burn permits was introduced in September 2021 and has saved an additional 82 hours of administrative time in comparison to the paper-based forms. Nearly 9000 burn permits have been approved by auto and home-based businesses (category 1.) approvals that used to take between 2 and 3 weeks to the process have now been instantaneously granted online, which has saved around 70 hours of administration time over the last six months.
A simplified process links all areas.
The introduction of new online applications has resulted in an efficient process for both customers and internal staff, leading to less time for approvals.
An online customer portal is currently being developed, and once it is completed, it will allow customers to submit applications, communicate with City officials, submit and update their personal information, keep track of their applications and access their documents via the portal.
To do this to achieve this, to achieve this, the City is making significant improvements to its existing systems to provide greater functionality and assist in achieving the longer-term goals of the City’s project called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) project to greatly improve customer interactions.
Business liaison is a way to welcome small-sized businesses.
The project team conducted an introductory business liaison test for three months, where additional support was provided to companies that had difficult, new, or other business-related inquiries or approvals.
Each case was analyzed to determine if Business Liaison assistance was needed from the group, and the company was given customized assistance. In the majority of cases, several agents from different service units were needed to assist the client.
At this point:
- More than 50 businesses were helped in the past year, with an average of three hours of assistance per case.
- Internal inquiries increased as teams became increasingly aware of various types of inquiries due to the increased time spent helping businesses, breaking down the silos between teams, and encouraging teams to cooperate in order to communicate and problem-solve to help businesses.
- Businesses appreciated the extra help and the time they spent on their inquiry and felt valued. The majority of inquiries resulted in positive outcomes for both the company and the locality.
- After the trial had been completed, A number of suggestions were offered, including one recommendation that a business liaison program should be part of a complete Business Support Service.
Future of Wanneroo’s Small Business-Friendly approach
Based on the lessons learned from the initial ten months of the program’s implementation, the City of Wanneroo set out the next step of its Small Business Friendly Approvals journey through the creation of an updated Action Plan to run from July 2022 until June 2024. It will include refined reform areas as well as the steps needed to carry out the next phase of the plan.
The City continues to create a welcoming business atmosphere and a welcoming culture for customers. This includes more than 13,0001 businesses already operating in the region, as well as businesses that are still to establish.