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The Top 3 Reasons Planning Assessments Haven't Been Systematised

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

It's well known that systems play a crucial role in distinguishing successful organisations and teams from unsuccessful ones. Without them, we find ourselves constantly doing the same work, fixing errors and holding things together (sound familiar?!).

Despite this, systems have seen low adoption rates across the town planning and resource management industry.

It's not because there isn’t a need, many planners I've spoken to see a desperate need for better systems in their work and have tried implementing these themselves. But for the simple reason that systems haven't worked particularly well for them, and for good reason.

The planning domain possesses unique traits and traditionally, systems have failed to gel with these. Here are the top 3:

#1 Every application is unique

Each project brings its own set of variables, such as sites, proposals, consenting triggers, and points of contention. Systems often attempt to oversimplify projects, disregarding the nuances and ultimately diminishing the quality of assessments.

#2 Human judgment and accountability drive the planning process

Often, systems operate like mysterious black boxes, producing outputs without providing a clear understanding of the underlying processes or mechanisms. This poses a challenge for the planning process, which is inherently subjective and heavily reliant on human judgment.

In addition, planners bear responsibility for their work. They must maintain a comprehensive understanding of every aspect of each project and exercise caution when delegating tasks to automated systems.

#3 Every planning team is unique

Every planning team has its unique attributes, such as the nature of projects they handle, the regulatory environment they operate in, their level of expertise, preferred methodologies, and individual skill sets.

However, systems frequently enforce a standardized approach to processes, disregarding the individuality and expertise of planners. This hampers their ability to apply their training and respond appropriately to the diverse range of issues and decisions they face.

How Rico is changing this

At Rico, we have gained valuable insights through years of experience and feedback while developing systems for planners. Based on these lessons, we strongly believe that a good system should:

  • Adapt to Application Nuances: A reliable system should be able to accommodate the unique characteristics of each planning application, ensuring that quality and precision are not compromised.

  • Support Planner Judgments: An effective system should empower planners by assisting in the development and execution of their judgments, while respecting their expertise and decision-making process. It should serve as a tool to enhance their capabilities rather than imposing or interfering with their professional judgment.

  • Customize to Team Preferences: Recognizing that each planning team has its own preferred approaches and specific circumstances, it should avoid rigid, one-size-fits-all solutions and instead provide flexibility to align with the team's preferred methods and unique circumstances.

By incorporating these principles into our systems, we aim to provide planners with the tools they need to navigate the complexities of the planning process more effectively and efficiently.

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