Innovation Exchange

e-Planning Development Management Service


Key activities

Benefits and impacts


Further Information

The remit of the project was to deliver a fully functioning replacement business support system integrated with the implementation of the appropriate restructuring.


The project was managed on PRINCE2 principles with the Head of Planning as project executive and chair of the project board.


The project was focused on what had to be delivered and an output based specification with 19 high level items was produced.   The tender document described what had to be achieved rather than specifying, in detail, the way it had to be achieved.


Procurement was via the Crown Commercial Service, Local Authority Software Applications portal.


The decision to go for a fully-integrated system, with end-to-end workflow and no paper case files was ambitious but also helped define the processes and required actions.  For example, extensive staff involvement was required in order to workflow the end-to-end processes and this included many mini-workshops across all planning roles.


A great deal of effort was spent on maximising possible business benefits and this included changes to existing job roles and staffing structures.


The data transfer from various disparate existing systems into the new fully integrated approach was particularly challenging, as was the incorporation of the Corporate Address Gazetteer (CAG) to the project scope and final system.


Traditionally reviews and replacements of structures and systems take a considerable time. On the basis of the rate of change and performance expectations the clear message was that the project had to deliver in a short timescale.


The total timescale for the project was 17 months (6 months software procurement, 4 months hardware procurement and 7 months for everything else).

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Theme: Service Transformation

  • Implementation of a modern and effective Development Management Service which can deliver an efficient and effective Service in line with Government and Council aspirations.

  • Delivery of continued improvements across Planning Performance Framework indicators which include both speed of delivery in validation and determination of applications and customer satisfaction.

  • Delivery of integrated efficiencies within core processes through parallel change through simultaneous restructuring and the delivery of a new Business Support System to change processes and working practices.


Aberdeenshire Council has introduced a fully integrated, paperless, workflow based, end-to-end approach to planning application processing.


The fully integrated approach has built upon the potential benefits of the national e-planning portal and “digital by default” cost efficiency principles.


The new system is a key component in our modernised, resilient, fit for purpose Development Management Service.,


Our paperless approach maximises our ability to be responsive to changes in workloads, and enables us to support flexible working arrangements.


The introduction of the improved technologies is helping us to deliver a high level of customer service from application submission through to determination, e.g., 97% of applications are available for public viewing within 3 days of receiving the application.

  • A fully integrated end to end paperless system
  • Complete in house scanning
  • End of external scanning and associated costs and timescales
  • Reduction in paper
  • Paperless filing system
  • Electronic workflow across 5 area offices within Aberdeenshire
  • Improved 1 Day validation: 58%
  • Improved 3 Day validation: 97%
  • Improved speed in householder performance: from 60% to 97%in one year.
  • Improved on line planning submissions: from 28% to 56% in one year.


Public service delivery

  • Earlier awareness of valid applications on line – up to 6 days earlier than previous.
  • More scope for public to self-serve – notification of applications, updates, weekly lists.
  • Availability for public to access ‘real time’ information.



Project approach ensured the delivery of a fully integrated end to end paperless system which was procured, ordered, installed, implemented and embedded within 17 months.


The project approach ensured the full involvement of all stakeholders and staff in the transformation of systems and processes.


Project Team/Board/Service Provider

Internally the project team and project management board comprised officer and management levels from Development Management, ICT and Business Support and other services associated with planning who would ultimately use the new system as stakeholders.



Staff were consulted at all levels with specific focus on circumventing resistance to new paperless workflow methods.  Early training of the system was given and super users were identified to test the system both its software and hardware including multi monitors. All levels of staff were included in training programmes.



All consultees were notified of the changes.  Pilot programmes were offered to consultees, internal and external, to test the consultation module.


Project approach has enabled quick delivery and implementation of a fully integrated approach.


All levels of users and stakeholders were involved and thus ‘ownership’ of new structures and processes were enabled.


Aberdeenshire Council now has the most integrated e-planning system in Scotland. In a 17 month period the council has transformed from no e-planning to a fully integrated, paperless system.

Link to Public Access Register :


Link to Planning Performance Framework 2013-2014 – pages 32-34 & 36-37 :

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:


Mairi Stewart

Planning Manager

Aberdeenshire Council

01569 768266

Case study added to site: June 2016

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