One of the largest water and sewer utilities in Tennessee, White House Utility District (WHUD) serves a population of 90,000 with 30,000 water and sewer connections in a 600-square-mile area. WHUD turned to Cityworks in 2004 for help in streamlining their workflow. Since then, Cityworks has proven an efficient and organized way to track a variety of processes including materials, customer calls, cross connection inspections, new development and capital improvement projects, employee new hires, vehicle maintenance, leak detections, and various state-mandated reports.
Like many Cityworks clients, WHUD uses Storeroom to track materials in the field. Unlike other clients, they are putting Cityworks Storeroom to use in a very unique way. The District requires its field users to be responsible for their own materials, turning their vehicle into its own storeroom where the user can add and subtract materials as they see fit. Because each vehicle that carries material is considered a storeroom, WHUD runs around 25 separate and individual storerooms.
When it comes to material tracking and accounting, WHUD uses different formulas built within Crystal Reports to extract the amount of material used each month, and to differentiate between costs. For example, when a service request or work order comes through to repair a service line, the District can account for the cost as a service line cost versus a main line cost by using Crystal to differentiate between the different accounts. By utilizing the custom fields within the service request, the user can record the material used in order to eliminate the extra step of creating a work order. At the end of the month the material costs are entered into their financial system with an accurate accounting of expenses.
Every phone call into or out of WHUD offices is automatically recorded, allowing every department to have access to calls they make or receive. When Customer Service receives a call to either start or stop service, for example, staff is able to retrieve the recorded phone call and tag it to the billing system database (InCode). From there, an automated process using the SR API creates a Cityworks service request to either turn on or off service on the date the customer requested. Meanwhile, the system searches for all calls that match the service request, attaching those phone calls to the current service request.
“Occasionally, we might hear, ‘I didn’t request service’ or ‘I didn’t request to have service disconnected,’” said Dawn Fletcher, Project Manager, WHUD. “We have documentation that is easily accessible to research the situation. In the past, everything was recorded on paper. Customer Service would create a paper service order in the billing system and attach the customer’s request which was also in paper form. Thanks to Cityworks, we no longer have to maintain a room filled with documentation showing these requests.”
In lieu of an answering service, WHUD implemented an Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) system where callers can access their account balance and pay their bill after hours. In emergency situations, calls are routed to the water plant where staff is available 24/7. Upon receiving the call, staff creates a service request, which is routed to the appropriate personnel for review and follow up with the customer, if need be.
When a leak is discovered after hours, such as on a weekend, a “leak recording” will appear on the IVR system. And because it happens during non-business hours, Customer Service is likely unaware of the leak. A service request is created in Cityworks to alert the main office of the situation should any customers call during normal business hours. Cityworks is a central point where multiple people and departments can access the service request simultaneously.
Cross-connection inspections in the District are handled internally and are tracked via an automatically generated service request. Tennessee requires an inspection of each device every calendar year. With Cityworks, WHUD is able to track up to six inspection trips on a service request instead of creating a separate request up to six times. This saves valuable time and resources.
New Development and Capital Improvement Projects
The District’s engineering department is responsible for all new development and capital improvement projects. They track all key elements of the project in a single Cityworks work order. That work order typically includes every task required for a new development or capital improvement project. A single work order may have up to 60 tasks, all related to one project. Often, the order involves several different departments, with Cityworks effectively managing each party’s concern.
New Hires and Separations
WHUD has discovered unique and interesting ways to utilize the Cityworks work order. For example, Human Resources uses Cityworks to manage the information and tasks associated with new employees. Tasks include setting up the new employee in Cityworks, issuing a cell phone, setting up their computer desktop, and insurance. From a standard work order template, each employee is modified to fit their unique situation.
Vehicle maintenance is also tracked using Cityworks service requests. Maintenance managers use the system to verify work completed against invoices. The service request tracks things such as oil changes and battery replacements. The vehicle number fills the address line, with the custom fields housing the rest of the information. The employee selects the vendor that did the work, enters the vehicle odometer reading, and selects from a picklist for the maintenance performed. Upon receipt of the invoice, the maintenance supervisor is able to easily query Cityworks to find the open service requests associated with the vehicle, comparing the work requested to that invoiced. Upon approval, the invoiced amount is recorded in a custom field and the request is closed.
The District proactively searches for leaks in each of its metering zones. Work orders guide field workers as they use listening devices to monitor taps, fire hydrants, and water lines in search of leaks, recording their progress along the way. After an asset is inspected, it is highlighted on the map, showing which assets have been inspected and which inspections remain. Field staff list the number of leaks found in the custom fields section of the work order. When a leak is found, a service request is created and dispatched for further assessment.
The White House Utility District services the area north of Nashville, Tennessee. With a pioneering attitude, the District is recognized as a leader in deploying the optimal technologies to better serve their constituents. Cityworks is among many of the solutions implemented to keep costs low and service exceptional. For more information about White House Utility District, visit them on the web at www.whud.org.
By Dawn Fletcher, Project Manager, White House Utility District