Justin R - 3 years of experience as a Procedures Coordinator
Q: What knowledge, skills, and or abilities are needed to be successful in this position?
JR: To be successful in this position, you must be technically adept. There are many systems used in the business performed by the Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI), and the Procedures Coordinator must be able to use the systems, to identify areas for increased efficiency or better ease of use for DSI employees, and to generate and interpret the systems’ data to meet the needs of leadership.
Perhaps most importantly, the person in this position should be an avid learner. There are so many business lines in DSI, my time there was full of daily learning about the work being performed and the systems behind that work. A successful Procedures Coordinator will recognize that something new is always popping up, and will welcome the constant learning.
Q: How does this position support Saint Paul’s mission for “Building a City for All”?
JR: Most residents aren’t accustomed to interacting with their government, and they are out of their element when they must do so. In working with public-facing systems, the Procedures Coordinator looks with empathy at the least-experienced users and tries to create welcoming interactions that are easy to complete. In supporting DSI staff, the Procedures Coordinator can help provide data-driven answers to, say, help an inspector resolve a complaint from a resident, or to help process license or permit applications. The Procedures Coordinator plays a key part in keeping that end-user’s experience at the forefront of configuration and system implementation.
Q: What tools and resources does the City or Department provide to be productive and effective in this role?
JR: The most important resource I’ve had access to is a department staff full of people who are willing to explain the details of their work, so that I can help build a technology base that meets their needs. Construction trades, code enforcement, fire safety, and business licensing are all realms to which I had no previous exposure. I have been able to rely on the kindness of those experts, always willing to explain and clarify until I know what I need to know. This accommodating attitude has been present straight through to the top of the department leadership.
Additionally, the department has provided training on customer service, workplace safety, and other generally relevant topics. I have also seen DSI support my colleagues with technical training, for instance a short asynchronous course on SQL.
Q: How do the benefits of this position allow you to live the lifestyle you want?
JR: The benefits of this position accommodate a full and busy life outside of work. The work week is limited to 40 hours in a consistent schedule, so evening and weekend plans will not be interrupted. The insurance available through the City is top-notch, particularly compared to what I’ve been subject to in private sector companies. Personally, I’ve been raising three children during my time with the City, and I’ve had all the flexibility I have needed, from family illness to special events at school.
Q: Why does this work interest you, and how did you get started?
JR: Someone I know reached out to me about this specific opportunity in DSI. I had previously worked for the federal government and then for a small private company in Minneapolis. I found that I loved—and missed—the feeling of my work contributing to the larger community, as opposed to the bottom line of a CEO. I want my work to benefit more than just my household. This work benefits hundreds of thousands of people, and prioritizing the experience of the most vulnerable residents leads to lifting up every resident, if you ask me.
Q: What has been the proudest moment of your career?
JR: Throughout my career, my proudest accomplishments have been realized through working in a team environment to accomplish things that cannot be achieved by one person alone. My work in the City of Saint Paul has been thoroughly enjoyable because of the way I can join my colleagues, each with a different specialty, to solve problems that rely on each person’s perspective.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face in this role? What resources are provided to ensure success when faced with these challenge(s).
JR: The biggest challenges in this role come from the boundaries imposed—from software limitations on one hand, to the physical and legislated realities of the work being performed in the field. City ordinances cannot be ignored to make a problem easier, and our staff inspecting buildings and streets cannot ignore the physical reality in front of them. The technological systems which handle the day-to-day business of DSI must be implemented and used in a consistent way that can withstand scrutiny when special cases lead to review. The Procedures Coordinator helps find that balance between the concrete and the flexible.
Q: Share a bout a time when you learned how the work you do matters to the residents of Saint Paul.
JR: As a Procedures Coordinator, I loved bringing data to the table to help drive decision-making. DSI systems are full of rich data, but the data requires understanding, checking, and interpretation before it’s appropriate to take action. I’ve provided data that shows which work processes take longer than expected, leading to review and clean-up of those processes so that businesses can be licensed sooner—I have limited interactions with the public, but I have spoken to a restaurant owner who expressed real gratitude at his experience dealing with “the government” as he went through the process of construction permits for his space through licensure for the business I’ve provided data demonstrating how some small businesses have re-invested in their spaces for a better customer experience, hopefully encouraging other small businesses to make such investments for their customers. I’ve contributed to the implementation of public-facing solutions enabling residents to get things done via computer, instead of needing to battle time-and-space constraints for an in-person visit. I know that every gain in efficiency or cost-effectiveness for staff means an increase in the quality of life for our residents.