Putting Modern Technology to Work for You: Risk Management in the Age of Wireless
Let’s face it, in the current day and age, almost everyone owns some sort of mobile device. Some own smartphones, some own tablets, others have notebook computers. All these devices allow the user to stay “connected” where ever they are. This modern technology is easily applied to businesses, such as your utility or municipality. Incorporating wireless devices into your day to day business dealings will help you stay on top of your risk management.
Tablets, Cell Phones, and Notebooks. OH MY!
Where ever you go, whether it is out to dinner, at the local park, or driving down the road, you see people with their wireless devices. While these devices are often used for gaming, texting, books, music, or social networking, they also have practical applications in the business world as well. Wireless devices allow you to stay connected to your customers, your employees, and other vital people involved in the upkeep of your utility or municipality.
Other than accessing emails and being able to call or text, a wireless device is an efficient way to supervise your risk management strategy. Customers are able to connect with you via their own wireless devices to let you know of a problem, such as a downed power line or failure of a culvert. Once contacted, you can utilize your wireless devices to dispatch employees to access the current situation.
After assessment, employees can use their smartphone, tablet, or notebook to input vital information on the situation. They can also access schematics, blueprints, or other documents while in the field, eliminating a need to return to the office. The use of these devices helps your employees become more efficient, saving you time and money.
If your employees stay connected using wireless devices, you are able to send schedules for routine maintenance and inspections directly to their devices. These updates allow your employees to know when to be where, eliminating confusion and wasted paper from printed schedules. It also allows you to quickly change when and where a particular employee should be on a moment’s notice.
Risk Management in Action
While in the field, employees can utilize their wireless device to input information gleamed from inspections. This updated data will allow you to make a decision on the cost, time, and necessity of the repair.
One way to make this all a bit easier is to utilize a grading scale. A rating of 1-5 can be assigned for the overall condition of the inspected asset. 1 would indicate that the asset is in perfect working order and no repairs or replacement are necessary and 5 would indicate that the asset is in catastrophic failure and immediate repair or replacement is required. A second grading scale is then utilized to determine the effects of immediate versus delayed reaction. 1 would indicate that if you don’t repair or replace the asset immediately, there will minimal effect on the general population and a 5 would indicate that the results would be a major wide spread problem.
The results of both grading scales are then multiplied together to determine the course of action for the repair or replacement of the asset. A total score of 1-10 would be able to be postponed if time, supplies, or funds are not readily available. However, a score of 11 or higher would require more immediate attention
An example of how this grading scale would work and the utilization of wireless devices is:
A resident accesses your website using her mobile phone to indicate that there is a culvert that has failed in her neighborhood. You dispatch a worker that is 2 miles away to assess the situation. He receives notification of this assignment via his tablet. The worker assess the failed culvert and determines that the failed culvert is, in fact, a 5 = full failure. However, the culvert is on a side street with only 3 residential homes. The impact is minimal, so gives the immediacy rating a 2. The worker inputs this information into his tablet and it is sent to dispatch indicating that the risk management for this event is a 10 (5 for the failure x 2 for the immediacy).
You are able to determine that this culvert needs to be repaired, however, it can wait until another project is completed later that month.
Now, let’s say the same scenario occurs, but this time in step 3 the worker assess the situation and the culvert that failed is under the main thoroughfare of town. There are 100s of businesses and 100s of residents on this street and impact is great to the general public. This would put the immediacy at a 5. This makes the risk management projection for this asset at a 25 (5 for the failure x 5 for the immediacy). This would indicate that the culvert and road way repair needs to begin immediately.
With the wireless devices on hand, your employees are able to update risk management constantly as opposed to the old days of paper or spreadsheets created by clerical staff. Instant feedback eliminates time of analysis allowing repairs and replacements to be achieved in a more time effective manner.
Put It into Action
The initial cost of starting up a wireless system may seem daunting. If your employees do not currently have work dedicated smartphones, tablets, or notebooks it may seem like a huge expense. However, the initial expense is quickly offset by the money saved by a more efficient work environment. Modern technology has given us the ability to stay connected save the all-important commodity, time, which in turn leads to a dollar saved.
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