Q How Can Technology Improve DATA COLLECTION & ASSET MANAGEMENT?
A by Theresa Chavez
GOING DIGITAL: THE FIRST STEPS TO MAXIMIZING EFFICIENCY AND IMPROVING SAFETY
THEY SAY that getting started is the hardest part of doing anything, but that doesn’t have to be the case when beginning to establish your digital presence in the world of asset data collection and management. While it may seem time consuming at first, taking the initiative to establish your digital presence will result in a more robust asset management program and ensure that all the data you are collecting is traceable, verifiable and complete. Here are some easy first steps you can take to make sure the transition goes smoothly:
Clearly understand the need for both office and field users
You already understand how your asset data is collected and how that information flows through your organization. It is just as important to have a solid understanding of the needs of everyone involved in the process, including both office and field users. Start by going directly to the source and speaking with users about every detail of their current processes. This will create companywide buy-in; employees tend to be more adaptive to new technology when they are included in the process of developing it. During this process, you will be able to identify any potential areas of resistance and have the opportunity to proactively build these concerns into your training plan.
Evaluate your current systems and identify areas for improvement
You already have systems in place that likely include paper forms and manual processes. While these are a good start for a digital plan, make sure you are taking a step back and reevaluating your current processes and identifying any operational inefficiencies. This includes looking at the content of your forms, the processes for handing off information from field users to back office personnel and making sure you are leveraging the right hardware for your workflow. For example, integrating your work order management system can help expedite the response to a One Call ticket. Transitioning to a digital platform will increase your efficiency organically, but a deliberate plan will increase those efficiencies exponentially.
Go the extra mile with training and support
It’s important to transition into the digital realm with a solid training program and ongoing support for all of those involved. The success of your digital program depends on the proper utilization of the tools just as much as the solution itself. Be sure to demonstrate how going digital will benefit everyone involved. If you are working with an outside vendor to implement your digital solution, be sure that they are able to provide training and ongoing support.
Going digital will not only improve the efficiency of how you manage your asset data but, more importantly, will result in improving safety for employees and communities. Manual processes introduce the possibility for human error; information can be easily transposed, missed or identified incorrectly. Digital forms allow for mandatory fields, drop-down menus, and conditional fields that will only be available when applicable and necessary. Integration with hardware, such as high accuracy GPS and a barcoding system, provides high accuracy data, both in terms of location and asset information. In the event of a material recall, those assets can be easily located and replaced without incident. Knowing, with a high degree of certainty, who put it there, what it is and where it is located is critical for the safety of any utility and community.
Theresa Chavez is Director of Sales and Marketing for CartoPac International. Theresa has more than 20 years of experience in software development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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