Going paperless is the dream, isn’t it? No more time-consuming filing of reports, compromised data security through lost documents, or efficiency-sapping manual reporting processes.
But is it really worth it? We’ve been using paper-based systems for years, with a moderate degree of success, so how can the paperless revolution improve upon this? And what about the cost of implementing this kind of work order system?
Read on to discover the answers to all these questions, and to discover how a paperless system of asset management could secure your department’s bottom line.
Real-Time Reporting and Confirmation
Your maintenance technician heads out into the field to carry out work on one of the assets under your jurisdiction. They notice a problem with a piece of machinery and log the problem in compliance with company protocol. So far so good, and the machinery doesn’t seem so bad so they get on with the job, complete it on time, and head back to base.
Back at the office, they file their report and clock out. It’s not until the next morning that the report is processed and a mechanic spots the mistake; the machinery needs an urgent repair. The mechanic finds that the machinery has been checked out again, and is currently on a job. The mechanic phones through to the team out in the field but it is too late, the machinery is irreparably damaged, and a minor repair task just became a total replacement job.
It isn’t difficult to see how this could have been avoided using a paperless system. Before it reached this stage, the asset management platform would have flagged the damaged machinery at several points; once when it was checked out the second time, once when it was checked in after the initial work request, and – most importantly – once as soon as the damage was logged by the maintenance team.
The paperless system removes the costly intermediary period between issues being noticed and issues being logged. What’s more, it enables instant confirmation by a member of the technician team, who can then either be deployed to repair the fault in the field or can recall the machinery back to base. Imagine the scale of these benefits when extrapolated out across the entire organization; imagine how much productivity, efficiency, and worker safety would be augmented. A modern public works department simply cannot afford to go without a paperless asset management and work order system, and those that do are leaving themselves susceptible to all manner of risks.
Streamlining the Process
Your data-entry team is snowed under, and there are reports of a blizzard approaching; a blizzard in the form of a vast stack of paperwork that got locked in one of the fleet vans over the weekend. The van was not accessible until Wednesday, so these documents are well behind schedule, but it’s no problem. The team simply logs an extra couple of hours of overtime and plows through them.
Except it’s not quite as simple as that. Some of the documents have been water damaged, while the strange handwriting of Bob the driver makes some of the others difficult to read. Even worse, there are vital information fields which have not been filled in. Those two additional overtime hours just became five, as the data-entry team becomes an ad-hoc human resources department, chasing up members of the maintenance crew to clarify information and fill in the gaps.
The above scenario is almost the dictionary definition of inefficiency. Not only did valuable working hours get paid for and wasted, but other projects had to be put on-hold while the log-jam was shifted, something which the adoption of a powerful, paperless asset management system would instantly eliminate.
Not only does this kind of system deliver boosted efficiency and the sort of productivity that many public works departments can only dream of, but it also makes your department a far happier place for its employees. Do you think your data-entry team got into this career because they have a passion for unpredictable workloads and handwriting interpretation? No, they entered this profession because they want to put their talents to good use in supporting their local community. It only makes sense to adopt the necessary procedural evolutions to let them do just that.
Prioritized and Monitored Maintenance
An inspection of one of the town’s water purification plants finds that urgent repairs are needed. This information is passed onto maintenance crews, but its urgency is not communicated, and it is placed at the back of the queue, ready for action several days later.
In that time, the situation worsens while other, far less time-critical tasks are being carried out. By the time the maintenance team gets to work, it is Friday afternoon, but the crew requires approval for work from a third-party contractor. The order is delivered to the department but it’s too late; the relevant office is closed for the weekend. The job is aborted and postponed until Monday.
A significant proportion of the tasks handled by a public works department involve the efficient scheduling and prioritizing of maintenance jobs. A city runs on its infrastructure, which means that this infrastructure must be at its best all the time. The only way to achieve this is via processes and protocols which are unified on a department-wide basis, and by harnessing data in a way that makes it safe, secure, and yet instantly accessible to all who need it.
A robust asset management and work order software not only makes this possible, but it makes it realistically easy to achieve. When an update comes in, it is entered into the system and a decision can be made regarding its position in the maintenance queue. This data can be readily reviewed, enabling simple and up-to-the-minute management of the work order.
Furthermore, the maintenance teams can log updates on the progress of the work and third-party quotes can be green-lighted and signed off immediately, ensuring that vital work takes place where and when it is needed and is not derailed by red tape.
Direct and Indirect Savings
As a public works department, you and your staff operate at the interface between governance and the general public, providing local residents with the resources and amenities they need to enjoy a high quality of life. This means that your every move is dictated to you by budgetary constraints and the ability to justify your expenditure.
Things are chugging along just fine with the old paper system – well, there is the odd expensive hiccup here and there, but nothing that a bit of extra work and organization can’t remedy – so why pay to implement a system of paperless work order and asset management?
The introduction of a comprehensive asset management and work order system reduces costs at every turn. Damage to infrastructure, to machinery, and to other assets under the public works department’s remit can be minimized and even eliminated in some cases, while the costs associated with the poor efficiency of a paper-based system are similarly reduced. These savings are easily quantified, but what are the other benefits?
An efficiently-run system enables tracking, scheduling, and close-monitoring, which combine to create an overall improvement in the health of your infrastructure. This enables your department to handle and even surpass its duties in the field. By demonstrating the efficiency, savvy, and overall worth of your department, you will be able to secure yourself more generous budgets in the long term, enhancing and augmenting the quality of life for your local residents.
Whether you can afford to implement a paperless system is not really the question here; whether you can afford NOT to is what you should be asking yourself. With 2018 just around the corner, now is the time to consider an Asset Management and Work Order software.
Contact WebDPW to learn more about our industry leading software. Prefer to talk to someone in person? Call us at 1-800-603-5578.