Cityworks ROI at Waterford Township, Michigan, Saves Over $130,000 Annually

Waterford Township, Michigan, has utilized Cityworks as their GIS-centric AMS since 1998 with numerous positive results and measurable, documented financial savings.  Considering that in 1996 the only computer application Waterford had was their billing system, they are extremely pleased with their investment in GIS, Cityworks, and other GIS-centric applications. Cityworks is used to manage just about everything for the Township, indoors and out.  The Department of Public Works (DPW) uses Cityworks in the Water & Sewer Division (electrical, sewer, service, treatment, and distribution) and Facilities & Operations Division (buildings like the library and town hall, grounds, cemeteries, welding, and mechanics).  Cityworks is also used for tasks and servicing in other departments such as Community Planning, Development, Police, etc.

Taking advantage of the flexible nature of Cityworks, Waterford has completed many Cityworks customizations for individual groups within its departments and integrated Cityworks into all of their major applications such as document management, SCADA, and their utilities staking software.  Using Cityworks as a GIS-centric application has given Waterford a maintenance management system that truly utilizes their GIS.  In addition, GIS-centricity has provided Waterford the advantage of being able to utilize Cityworks with other GIS-centric applications.

Utility Locating
In 2009, Waterford documented cost savings of $12,416 per year due to decreased processing time of utility location requests.  Before utilizing Cityworks, the average time to process a request was about ten minutes to search for the location, determine if staking was needed, and print a map and other information needed to follow up on the request.  Since Waterford’s implementation of Cityworks and its seamless integration to Dig-Smart, another GIS-centric certified application, the time it takes to process a request has been reduced to an average of two minutes – an 80% time reduction!  They can now complete five locates in the time it took to do one.

The combination of the ticket processing ability of Dig-Smart to integrate with Cityworks for work order generation has resulted in a transparent operation of the two programs on the user end.  The integration provided the City with a better operational view of the resources used in the utility location process as well as streamlining initiation, workflow processing, and work order completion for each request.  This data, along with a decrease in the total number of requests due to the general downturn in construction, made it possible for the City to determine their staffing needs and not backfill a vacant position without affecting productivity.  The results – an approximate savings of $65,000 per year just by decreasing the number of utility locating staff from two full-time employees to one.

Cemeteries
Leveraging the flexibility of Cityworks, Waterford developed a data model for cemetery maintenance/management, saving them from having to purchase a specialized program.  In addition to cost savings associated with being able to leverage their existing CMMS for this need, once they had the system up and running for a while and were tracking costs, they realized they were losing money on the average burial and, therefore, losing money on the entire burial process.

Using this information, they created a detailed analysis of costs and revenues from work order data in Cityworks and other sources, which showed that in total they were losing approximately $52,000 a year in cemetery operations.  In light of this new knowledge, they conducted a survey of neighboring cemeteries to determine if charges and costs were similar.  From the information collected between the analysis and the survey, they developed a proposal that reflected actual costs and projected the appropriate price increases necessary to cover these costs.  The proposal was presented to the Township Board of Trustees for their approval and accepted.  Cityworks was instrumental in gathering this data and showing that they were operating in the deficit and that rate changes were necessary in order to operate the cemeteries in a fiscally sound manner to recover the annual losses of $52,000.

Frank Fisher, DPW Information Systems Administrator, states, “The cemetery data model has allowed us to save a considerable amount of money using a plain database and leveraging the power of Cityworks and GIS.  We have taken cemetery management to the next level and have been able to really track our costs and use the program as a full maintenance management system.”

Plants & Facilities
Waterford eliminated the use of another CMMS for plants and facilities by migrating the management of those assets to Cityworks, saving $2200 per year in annual maintenance fees alone.  Because Cityworks is flexible (unlike many other systems), it can be used to manage any type of asset.

Besides maintenance costs, there are additional costs incurred in maintaining two CMMS programs.  By consolidating to one software application, Waterford realizes added savings through bypassing the additional upgrade costs, consulting costs for providing operational expertise, and the costs of additional staff required to run the system.  In addition to the financial benefits of using a single system, there are operational benefits such as a user base already familiar with the application and only having to search a single app for work history.

Multiple Needs
The flexibility of Cityworks working with any geodatabase model provides Waterford the ability to consolidate many applications and operations into Cityworks.  The ability to work off data models is key as the City can model their entire infrastructure and use Cityworks to track work against it.  In addition, Cityworks can also track items not limited to infrastructure like litigation documentation and sending out invoices for damaged assets.  Waterford also invests a considerable amount into training and licensing employees.  By leveraging the flexibility of Cityworks, they created an employee geodatabase for Cityworks to interact with to track employee training and education.  Using work order templates and custom fields, the City tracks and reports on the money they spend on training and education as well as the status of employee licensing.  While it’s difficult to estimate the cost savings of being able to meet multiple needs through a single application, it has eliminated the need to purchase additional systems which in turn decreases the amount of effort and training to support multiple systems.

Core Business Application
At the Township, Cityworks has the reputation of being a successful and valuable application, making it easier for potential users across the organization to see how the system could work for their needs.  The Township can focus the development of integrations around Cityworks as a core application.  Leveraging their existing experience and familiarity with Cityworks, personnel continue to find new ways to use the application to meet needs throughout the departments where it’s already in use as well as expanding throughout the entire organization.

In addition to the specific examples above, Cityworks functions in many ways as one of Waterford’s core business applications and is integrated with many of their other core applications.  Perhaps most notable is the Cityworks integration with their document management system, allowing staff to quickly retrieve and store documents into their document management system through seamless integration.  This integration provides major time savings for the department as users can quickly search for relevant documents and save documents directly to the document management system from a work order, allowing staff to be more productive and providing users a simple interface for storing supporting documents for work orders.

“The ROI of Cityworks as a whole is difficult to fully quantify,” explains Fisher.  “In some instances we can directly calculate the financial benefits gained by using Cityworks; however, the real ROI for us is in the overall operational functions and efficiencies we gain by leveraging the flexibility of Cityworks to meet our needs.  It is difficult to place a value on the amount of time saved, but it is even more difficult to place a value on good information.  I think the return of our investment using Cityworks has been absolutely fantastic.”

Cityworks ROI at Waterford Township, Michigan, Saves Over $130,000 Annually

By Frank Fisher, Department of Public Works Information Systems Administrator, Waterford Township

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