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City of St. Michael Realizes Self-Sufficiency in the Cloud

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivers cost savings and automatic functionality updates for forward-looking municipality

With an abundance of natural resources, good schools and a convenient central location between St. Cloud and Minneapolis, the City of St. Michael is a family-friendly enclave with a lot to offer residents looking for a balance between rural and urban lifestyles.


The City of St. Michael has a small administrative team, and opted to outsource their IT management responsibilities to an external firm to streamline available resources.

Hosted on the City’s server since 2008, St. Michael had decided several years ago to stay on their current version of software rather than update to a newer version. Shortly thereafter, this decision posed some challenges to the City’s operations, and functional improvements were needed. “It became inevitable that we had to update,” says Sue Ferbuyt, Assistant Financial Director of the City of St. Michael.


The City approached Accela to discuss their upgrade path. One option quickly stood out as the most appealing - migrating to the cloud. In May 2017, St. Michael transferred their data and processes onto Accela’s cloud-based solution, and the benefits were immediate.

With the migration, St. Michael receives regular and automatic software updates, ensuring they always have the latest features and functionality. This allows staff to focus on their day-to-day work, rather than navigate technical matters or manage external IT consultants.

Data security was another consideration in St. Michael’s decision to move to the cloud. Ferbuyt continues, “You know, in this day and age, data security is always a concern; it just seems like people come up with new [threats] every day. But we feel that Accela has the right things in place, things that we would have had to put on our own servers if we would have upgraded our on-premises installation.”

Accela SaaS also made the most financial sense for the City, which had held off on upgrading existing hardware and software following the latest financial recession. By going to the cloud, St. Michael was able to forgo costly equipment purchases that would have been required, in addition to security software, for an on-premises upgrade. Savings were found in the monthly maintenance fees, too, especially after eliminating hardware, software, IT consultant time, security and manpower costs.

In the cloud, St. Michael has more capacity and flexibility to focus on the community, not only on IT matters and software upgrades.

Interested in learning more?
To learn more about the Accela Civic Platform and what it can do for your agency, please call us at (888) 722-2352 or fill out our simple online form.

Minnesota seal

City of St. Michael, Minnesota


Implement needed software updates for their Accela system, realize cost and manpower savings


Migrate on-premises installation to the cloud

Self-sufficient software maintenance

Automatic software feature updates

Cost savings in hardware, software, staffing and security systems

Data security confidence

PDF icon Read Case Study


Denver Boosts Short-Term Rental Regulation Compliance with First Online Registration Process

City/County leads the way in managing disruptive Sharing Economy activities

Denver, the “mile high city” and capital of Colorado, is an in-demand travel destination, known for its thriving cultural scene and emphasis on outdoor activities. The Denver Post reported that in 2016, Denver hosted 17.3 million overnight visitors, setting a new tourism record for the 11th consecutive year.

Managing sharing economy disruption in Colorado communities

The rapid emergence of the short-term rental industry has left many cities and counties grappling with how to regulate transactions made through companies like Airbnb and VRBO. With thousands of short-term rental listings popping up online, Denver had to act. In 2016, the municipality introduced an ordinance requiring hosts to obtain a short-term rental license. Enacting legislation was only half the battle though — short-term rental ordinances have historically faced very low compliance rates. 

“Meet citizens where they are”

Acting in accordance with Mayor Michael Hancock’s vision to “meet citizens where they are”, Denver resolved to make their short-term rental licensing process as user-friendly and convenient as possible. Denver’s legislation even mandated an entirely online process for obtaining the new license. Accela worked with Denver’s Department of Excise & Licenses and Denver Technology Services, to launch a registration portal for the City’s short-term rental licenses. The modern website appeals to tech-savvy hosts, replacing tedious paperwork and long waits at City Hall with a modern user interface that makes it easy and quick for short-term rental hosts to register online. The portal integrates seamlessly with the department’s Accela Licensing and Case Management system.

Leading large cities in regulatory compliance

Within just six months of announcing the ordinance, and six months after the mandatory registration deadline, Denver had achieved an estimated 62% compliance rate, potentially the highest compliance rate in the nation.

Say’s Nathan Batchelder, former Legislative Analyst for the City and County of Denver, “Being able to quickly build this new, user-friendly portal and regulatory program into our existing Accela system was crucial to our timely success.”

Interested in learning more?
To learn more about the Accela Civic Platform and what it can do for your agency, please call us at (888) 722-2352 or fill out our simple online form.

Denver seal

City and County of Denver, Colorado


Launch new regulatory program around the sharing economy and promote compliance. Provide modern, online registration process for short-term rental hosts.

Accela Licensing and Case Management, Accela Citizen Access

Quick implementation

62% compliance (significantly higher than other major cities)

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Accela Environmental Health In Action

This webinar series discusses how to leverage advanced Environmental Health data management, mobile inspection and data analytics technology for increased efficiency.

Viewers will learn how to:

  • Accomplish more with fewer resources by leveraging proven industry tools and best practices
  • Reduce phone and foot traffic while simultaneously delivering real-time updates to customers via web, email and text
  • Utilize a single, integrated (and paperless) database with public portal and mobile capabilities
  • Anticipate and manage critical issues, from department productivity to violation and health trends

The webinars (best when viewed in this order):
1. The New Front Counter: Online Transactions
2. Your Better Back Office: Application Processing
3. Out in the Field: Mobile Inspections
4. Actionable Insight: Using Your Data

Each webinar is under 30 minutes, includes a brief Q&A, and provides lots of helpful information from environmental health experts.


The New Front Counter: Online Transactions
Save time and improve customer service by moving Environmental Health front counter transactions to a convenient, 24/7 web interface, including fee capture and application submission.
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EW WIW webinar 2 EW WIW video San Diego Video

Your Better Back Office: Application Processing – Speed up application processing without sacrificing quality with concurrent virtual review, assigned personnel routing, and automated text and email status updates to customers.
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Out in the Field: Mobile Inspections – Complete more inspections with less effort by leveraging a predefined canned comment library, agency-configured violations, site histories, and automatic score and next inspection calculation based on your unique business rules.
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Actionable Insight: Using Your Data – Now that you’ve collected data from your customers, your own investigation and your inspection, it’s time to use it! Advanced data analytics provide powerful insights to guide your daily and long term business decisions. 
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Interested in learning more?

To learn more about the Accela Civic Platform and what it can do for your agency, please call us at (888) 722-2352 or fill out our simple online form.


Michigan leverages Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to deliver cost savings and automatic functionality updates

State of Michigan has the nation’s longest freshwater coastline and lakes that feel like oceans. The State is a center of manufacturing, services, high-tech and tourism. After nearly a decade of economic turmoil, Michigan is marching towards again becoming a dynamic, innovative and responsive destination.


The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is responsible for the State’s regulatory environment and makes the delivery of services more efficient for consumers and business customers. Being a Permits Plus customer with Accela since 1998, they wanted to modernize the technology to be more efficient, while being mindful about the costs associated with IT infrastructure and ongoing maintenance.

They started their software update with one department and expanded to other agencies, with the goal being “to be cost effective and able to operate quickly and efficiently,” according to Tim Gajda, State Division Administrator for Michigan.


When the State approached Accela to discuss their upgrade options, it became clear that moving to a cloud-based offering would best suit their needs. They went live with the first instance for Bureau of Construction Codes in 2015 and gradually started adding other agencies, including Bureau of Fire Services, Bureau of Professional Licensing and Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulations.

Leveraging Accela’s cloud offering, helped LARA reduce their dependency on the centralized IT agency and focus more on innovation and customer engagement. “I no longer have to be concerned with applying updates and patches to the applications and infrastructure,” Gajda says. “Also, there has been a push in the last five or six years, really across the whole state, for agencies like our own to be more self-sufficient when it comes to IT initiatives.”

Running applications in the cloud has also empowered the technical team in LARA to be always on the latest product versions through the automatic updates with SaaS deployment. The State of Michigan saves money not only related to the infrastructure, but also around critical considerations such as maintenance costs, security, performance monitoring, and more.

Interested in learning more?
To learn more about the Accela Civic Platform and what it can do for your agency, please call us at (888) 722-2352 or fill out our simple online form.

Anaheim seal

State of Michigan

9.9 million

Modernize the State’s legacy permitting and licensing product in a cost-effective and efficient way

Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Adopt Accela’s cloud-based solutions to streamline cross- agency efficiency

Cost savings in infrastructure and maintenance

Automatic software feature updates

Decreased dependency on the centralized IT organization

Flexibility to expand the software usage to additional agencies with minimum effort

PDF icon Read Case Study


Palo Alto Taps Accela Partner to Create Permit Performance App for Real-Time Dashboard

Development Services takes advantage of open platform to build and deploy civic apps

Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley within miles of San Francisco and Stanford University, the City of Palo Alto, California is a world-recognized leader in technology development. As a full-service municipality that owns and operates its public utilities, it strives to provide the community with a higher quality of services, at a better value.

A complicated process involving multiple departments

How long is it taking us to get from application to building permit issuance? It’s the $64 million question asked by municipalities across the country as they oversee complex, multi-department plan reviews — and a question that Development Services Director Peter Pirnejad was determined to answer. “There are a ton of different interests involved in the construction of a building, and to get them all on the same page is a colossal feat,” shares Peter.

To identify trends and opportunities for improvement within the larger workflow, he had to know how the 10 different divisions involved in the City’s building plan review process were performing.

How Accela and CityGovApp empower the City of Palo Alto

Palo Alto teamed up with CityGovApp, a long-time Accela partner, to create a mobile app that would deliver real-time permitting statistics online. Pulling the City’s existing data from the Accela Civic Platform through CivicData, Accela’s open data portal, CityGovApp delivered a prototype within three months. Now, City leaders, department heads and others can instantly access and share the latest information on departmental review times, number and types of permits, days to final permitting and much more.

“When we find areas that need our attention, they’re not problems, they’re opportunities,” Peter says. “The app helps us focus on things that will deliver results and save time for staff, customers and contractors. It also gives you immediate verification that you’ve done a great job.”

The bottom line

Now, in seconds the City can access a detailed breakdown of day-to-day statistics and performance analytics — a view that previously required at least 40 hours of manpower to create. Also, by highlighting potential trouble spots within the larger review process, the app is helping individual teams accelerate and streamline final approvals and permitting. “One of our departments immediately started celebrating because only one building plan was late that entire month. From an operational standpoint, that was a huge success,” shares Peter.  

Interested in Learning More?
To learn more about the Accela Civic Platform and what it can do for your agency, please call us at (888) 722-2352 or fill out our simple online form.

Palo Alto seal

Palo Alto, California


Create a single view of the plan review process across many departments to identify trends and issues within the larger workflow

Accela Land Management, Accela Legislative Management, CivicData, Accela Mobile Office, CityGovApp’s Permit Performance Portal and Inspection Request mobile apps, OpenCounter

Reduced the time it used to take to compile data and create a report from 40 hours to seconds

Preserves internal resources by automating the analysis of internal performance metrics

Consolidates disparate departmental data and analytics into a cohesive, illustrated and more user-friendly dashboard view

Empowers departments to proactively improve performance levels by identifying and resolving specific issues

PDF icon  Read Case Study