The Move to Cityworks
Before Cityworks, the City had a noncommercial, homegrown work order management system consisting of five different databases through which work was tracked. Two of the databases were Microsoft FoxPro and the others were individual Microsoft Access databases. The system had been in use for years and contained about 450,000 work orders. Work history and information on assets were there, but the system was very basic and didn’t integrate with GIS. The City’s Assistant Director of Public Works, Rolin McPhee, expressed his concern that their databases were outdated and unable to efficiently meet their growing needs. Longview needed another solution.
McPhee approached the City’s GIS Manager, Justin Cure, to discuss the possibilities of a new work order management system. He was more than aware of the benefits that a GIS-integrated work order management system could provide the City.
“Truthfully, I wanted something that interfaced very well with GIS,” states Cure. “We have an enterprise GIS at the City and use it in almost every division. I wanted a work order management system that could integrate well with and take advantage of our GIS. We began searching for a solution and kept running into Cityworks. The thing we found very impressive about Cityworks and different from other systems is that it doesn’t just integrate with GIS, it is actually a part of the GIS. That is what really drove me towards Cityworks.”
Justin Cure recognized Cityworks as a solution that fit the City’s GIS enterprise strategy and an opportunity to boost GIS to a new level. He illustrated these points to Rolin McPhee and others at the City, and they caught the vision of what Cityworks could mean for their organization. In addition to the inherent GIS capabilities, decision makers were also drawn to Cityworks by other strong points of the system such as its easy-to-use interface and customizable, flexible nature.
“The ease that users are able to perform tasks in the system like adding work orders, changing information such as employee or material information, and the ability to change data was also a big determining point in our choosing Cityworks,” added Cure. “We didn’t see those abilities in every system.”
In early 2010, Longview made the decision to purchase a Cityworks Enterprise License Agreement (ELA), which provides enterprise-wide Cityworks asset management and permitting solutions within a tiered, affordable pricing schedule. The City began their Cityworks implementation in the Public Works Department across five divisions including Water, Sewer, Streets, Traffic, and Drainage.
Azteca Systems’ business partner, NTB Associates, initiated a weeklong kickoff effort with Longview and met with virtually everyone in Public Works to discuss their needs and aspirations for Cityworks. From setting objectives and goals with supervisors and managers to identifying end user details, NTBA gathered information about day-to-day activities and overall needs. They saw trends in what individuals were wanting and took that information to configure a Cityworks database that would function exactly that way.
Longview’s experience with their previous work order management system provided a good foundation for them to start. Staff was able to pinpoint what capabilities and tools they wanted in their new system. In addition, NTBA was able to input 99% of the 450,000 work orders that had been in Longview’s previous system into Cityworks, enabling directors to access data from 12 years back and look up history on individual assets.
Following the configuration process, NTBA conducted a week of end user training. NTBA also provided an additional week of onsite support, which proved to be most beneficial. With Longview staff trained and familiar with the workings of the system, NTBA staff was able to sit down with City users while actually working in Cityworks and assist with issues as they arose.
“Implementation wouldn’t have been as successful if not for that hands-on week NTBA provided,” recalls Cure. “Questions were answered and a lot of confidence was built. Going into an entirely new system can be daunting, but NTBA alleviated any nervousness our staff had. The onsite support was especially beneficial. The one-on-one time gave them a chance to flush out any questions they had and get direct, thorough answers.”
Longview’s go-live date went very smoothly, and Cityworks was immediately effective. The quick success they experienced was clearly the result of NTBA and the City working together very well, the staff’s willingness to be involved, and Cityworks intuitive, user-friendly interface.
The initial implementation was primarily focused at the desktop. The City also had an ELA with Esri and wanted to leverage the capabilities of using ArcGIS and Cityworks Desktop together. Management could forsee the benefits of using the Desktop version of Cityworks as a means to increase the use of GIS.
Cityworks was expanded to manage work within the Parks Department, which includes all park and building maintenance. The City then deployed Cityworks Storeroom in their warehouse. The Wastewater Treatment Plant also did away with their old system and implemented Cityworks.
Finding a system that integrated with GIS was an important consideration to Longview. This requirement proved to be a key aspect of the City’s success. With the click of a button, staff are able to geographically locate an asset and factor in important details about its location including its relationship to other City assets, surroundings, and overall location. Visualizing the asset in the GIS, staff can see its history, work performed, associated costs, and open service requests and work orders. The benefits the City has experienced from these GIS capabilities have resulted in more effective and efficient work management.
Before utilizing Cityworks, supervisors would go into meetings with updates on what was going on in their divisions working only from memory. With Cityworks, supervisors now bring reports of work that has been completed in their areas, making staff and supervisors more aware of work that has been completed and management more knowledgeable about what is going on in the City.
Time and Cost Savings
“Cityworks has saved us a lot of time with work delegation and has increased our communication,” explains Cure. “Previous to Cityworks, management would have to individually seek out supervisors and report work that needed to be carried out. Now they simply enter tasks into Cityworks and supervisors automatically know what work needs to be handled. Because of this, supervisors have a way to clearly track work being performed and the completion of that work. These capabilities have produced time savings and resulted in increased communication and efficiency of our overall processes.”
With accurate information on labor costs, the City is able to compare costs, resulting in better management decisions and overall cost savings. For example, before Cityworks, it was difficult for the Parks Division to determine costs. Cityworks provided them a place to manage and retrieve cost information, making expense data easily available to support research and comparison for actions and procedures. When comparing costs to prepare a baseball field for an upcoming tournament, the information provided in Cityworks showed the Division had not been charging enough in tournament fees to cover their costs. The City now has cost information readily available enabling them to save in many areas like they have in the Parks Division, resulting in significant overall savings.
Cityworks has enabled the City to manage multiple divisions and departments through a central database and share information across the organization. With their Cityworks ELA, the City has access to the entire Cityworks suite of products and plans to grow their usage to other applications. Longview looks at Cityworks as an evolving process that will continue to expand throughout the City. “Because of Cityworks enterprise-wide capabilities as well as our purchase of the Cityworks ELA, when discussing the areas in which Cityworks can and will be expanded throughout the City, the sky is the limit,” says Cure.
The City will soon be implementing Cityworks Server PLL (Permits, Licensing, and Land) in the Development Services Department to handle all planning, zoning, building, code enforcement, development, and environmental health.
With the positive outcomes and benefits the City has experienced from Cityworks and its GIS capabilities, the City looks forward to future benefits they will reap with the system as they continue to expand the program as their enterprise management solution.
By Laura Carr, GIS Project Manager, NTB Associates; and Justin Cure, GIS Manager, City of Longview