Client News

Q&A with Carmen Flemming, Integrated Systems, City of Columbia

Q&A with Carmen Flemming, Integrated Systems, City of Columbia
CITYWORKS: What were some of challenges Columbia was facing prior to Cityworks?
COLUMBIA: Prior to implementing Cityworks, the City of Columbia had grown frustrated with the reporting and functional limitations of our existing Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), which challenged efforts for comprehensive tracking and analysis of performance, costs, and trends. Our team was also busy collecting and updating asset data for the city’s emerging GIS and soon faced the challenge of managing two asset repositories – one stored in SDE and a duplicate copy in the legacy work order system. At the same time, our utilities and public works storeroom managers were looking for a better inventory management tool which could be integrated with work order management, plus support daily accountability of materials, and facilitate accurate reporting for successful tracking and auditing. Columbia needed a system which could handle almost everything!
CITYWORKS: What factors compelled Columbia to select Cityworks?
COLUMBIA: Recognizing the city had outgrown our legacy work order system, an RFP team was tasked with exploring solutions. Following an in-depth selection process, Cityworks was identified as the best software to support Columbia’s geocentric work order and inventory tracking objectives. The team was impressed with Cityworks’ direct integration with Esri’s ArcGIS, eliminating the need to manage dual asset databases and any resulting synchronization. We also saw value in the ability to configure scripted questions and instructions in service requests to facilitate business process flow and training efforts. Cityworks’ ability to attach work orders directly to spatial assets and graphically track maintenance efforts through maps and event layers was key, as well.
Prior to our selection and implementation, we reached out to a few nearby Cityworks “sister” clients as part of our fact finding and information gathering efforts. The City of Greenville (SC), Macon Water Authority (GA), and North Myrtle Beach (SC) were all very helpful and graciously shared their experience using the application. Networking and sharing lessons learned with other clients before and after implementation has helped Columbia be more successful with Cityworks.
CITYWORKS: What steps did Columbia take in implementing Cityworks, and when did the city begin using it?
COLUMBIA: Coordinated by Columbia’s Department of Information Technology, the city outlined an aggressive, in-house project plan, which focused on 1) migrating four divisions from the legacy CMMS to Cityworks; 2) developing a web-based solution for querying CMMS data and retiring the legacy application; 3) upgrading from Cityworks Anywhere to Server AMS to eliminate the need for managing desktop client installations; and 4) deploying Cityworks for additional divisions throughout the city’s enterprise.
With these goals in mind, our initial deployment of Cityworks began with Columbia’s Street Division in late March 2010. As principal users of the city’s legacy CMMS, street personnel were ideally suited to assist development of core configuration and testing for Cityworks. During implementation, the city’s core team focused on tuning GIS datasets, configuring SQL databases, defining domain security, and customizing Cityworks to track the street division’s work efforts. Cityworks templates, custom fields, and feature classes were designed and tested for sidewalk construction, storm drain maintenance, pothole repairs, and other processes. Within 90 days a Cityworks pilot was launched for Street division, with final go-live in June 2010.
CITYWORKS: What was Columbia’s experience in self-implementing Cityworks?
COLUMBIA: Like many governmental agencies, Columbia is faced with providing quality services at minimal cost. With very limited funding, the City of Columbia launched a creative, self-led implementation, supplemented by Azteca’s Remote Implementation Services and other ad-hoc consulting. Not only did this winning strategy save tens of thousands of dollars in implementation costs, the process also empowered Columbia’s technical staff with hands-on configuration experience and back-end Cityworks knowledge. Our in-house team now handles all phases of the Cityworks implementation: business process assessment, database installation, SDE structuring, GIS assets collection, template design, and Storeroom configuration. And, over the past year, the team successfully upgraded to Cityworks Server in 6 divisions, and expects to have 3 more divisions onboard by end of 2011.
CITYWORKS: How is Cityworks utilized at the organization?
COLUMBIA: Cityworks is a vital tool for tracking assets and work efforts throughout Columbia’s enterprise, from Water Division’s mainlines and meter servicing, to Forestry’s maintenance of trees and horticulture sites, to traffic engineering studies, radio, and street light repairs. With Cityworks Server AMS now in place, Columbia’s technical team supports Water, Wastewater, Forestry & Beautification, Traffic Engineering, Streets, and Support Services Divisions. This past January, we retired our legacy system, with access to historical data now available through Cityworks reporting tools. With Cityworks, Columbia also manage millions of dollars of assets, from installation to replacement, and as we continue to gain experience, Cityworks has become a mechanism to streamline and enhance future business processes and reporting.
CITYWORKS: What type of benefits has Columbia experienced due to Cityworks?
COLUMBIA: The City of Columbia noted several immediate benefits. With the application’s robust querying functionality and ability to export to Excel, we have much better control of our data and much better reporting and analysis of work efforts. GIS mapping and event layer capabilities are a big hit among our users. Seeing a red car symbol on a map and immediately recognizing it as an open Traffic work order is quite valuable during discussions and presentations. Event layers also enhance communication and scheduling of work around the city. For example, why fill a pothole at a particular intersection on Monday when we can see Water has scheduled a dig at that same location on Tuesday?
Another benefit is the ability to easily view and identify the location of assets—trees, manholes, and water mains—on customized maps. The map view is also handy for quickly redirecting citizens to county or state agencies for servicing those assets outside the city. If pictures speak a thousand words, then graphically displaying assets and work management efforts on a map is beginning to speak millions!
CITYWORKS: What has the city’s experience been with the Cityworks ELA (Enterprise Licensing Agreement)?
COLUMBIA: Columbia’s purchase of Cityworks’ ELA has been very beneficial. The ELA allows unlimited user access to Cityworks Server and Storeroom. With this investment, Columbia is well positioned to maximize return on investment (ROI) each time new users and departments are added to the system. With several city divisions already live and others eager to get on board, Cityworks’ “smart-licensing” has made this a cost-effective acquisition for Columbia.
CITYWORKS: How has Cityworks’ unique GIS capabilities benefited the organization?
COLUMBIA: By upgrading to Cityworks Server AMS shortly after our initial pilot, Columbia was able to place basic GIS mapping tools in the hands of personnel at all levels. Clerical staff, foremen, and upper managers are all logging on to Cityworks to graphically view assets and maintenance activities as well as to record citizen service requests, manage work orders, and generate reporting to better understand work efforts throughout the city.
CITYWORKS: What is upper management’s view of Cityworks and its role at the city?
COLUMBIA: A significant aspect of Columbia’s success with Cityworks has been support from top management. Buy-in from top leaders enhanced the team’s ability to expedite implementation timelines, strengthen departmental communication, and motivate user acceptance. Public Works Director Robert Anderson and Assistant City Manager Missy Smith Gentry championed our GIS-centric CMMS objectives from selection to implementation.
“Cityworks offers management a visual tool to fully understand and view workloads and costs in real time, while looking for opportunities to enhance training, improve operations, and utilize available resources effectively,” said Gentry. “I am excited and encouraged by the potential that exists through the tools offered in Cityworks and know that the city will be positively impacted by its use.”
CITYWORKS: Explain Columbia’s Cityworks C.A.S.T. user group.
COLUMBIA: To keep communication open after our go live and to also keep users focused on Cityworks as an enterprise solution, the Core Team initiated an internal Cityworks users group which meets on a regular basis. This forum allows Columbia staff to communicate Cityworks goals and concerns, and share lessons learned and tips and tricks. When first gathering, the group voted to be called “The Cityworks C.A.S.T.” (Columbia Adopts Spatial Technology). As new Cityworks users come on board they are introduced at team meetings and earn “Welcome to the C.A.S.T.” certificates after completing Cityworks training.
CITYWORKS: What are Columbia’s future plans for Cityworks?
COLUMBIA: With six divisional implementations under our belt, the Core team is inspired and ready to upgrade to Cityworks Server 2011. This upgrade will allow the city to maximize utilization of our existing ArcGIS Server 10 investment and improve GIS map displays. Future expansion includes implementations for Solid Waste, Water Quality, and Waste Water Treatment Plant, plus inventory tracking for Public Safety (Fire and Police). We’re also looking at providing remote field access on laptops and smartphone apps, as well as deploying a GIS-centric Citizens Service Request portal for use by the city’s 311-Non-emergency service.

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