Over the course of the last decade, municipal governments have increasingly turned to IT consolidation as a means of reducing costs while also improving service delivery. For many organizations, IT consolidation means the re-centralization of IT services into one single department. Other organizations have taken it a step further by also consolidating software applications so all departments are sharing the same systems for common business practices.
The City of Weatherford, TX, used Cityworks as a platform to bring several business processes under one umbrella. Austin Nichols, business analyst at the City of Weatherford Information Technology Department, shares how the city teamed up across departments to improve operations, increase efficiencies, and reduce costs.
Establishing the System of Record
One of the first benefits we saw from our software consolidation was the elimination of data silos across the organization. Part of that is due to the GIS-centric nature of Cityworks. All of our assets are in one authoritative data repository, regardless of the department that manages them.
The Water and Wastewater and Electric Utility Departments implemented Cityworks first in 2013. Then, the Transportation and Public Works Department went live in 2015. Although Transportation and Public Works wasn’t necessarily unhappy with their existing work management system, they were willing to migrate onto a common platform. Management recognized that, by sharing information with other departments, they’d achieve greater collaboration and cost savings in the long run.
We did have to make changes in our business processes to ensure our system of record contained quality data. For example, we had to get out of the habit of deleting. Previously, if an electric line was being replaced, we’d delete the old line and draw in the new one. Now, we have a lifecycle field that allows us to retire assets and retain the work history associated with them. A query lets us display only active assets on the map for day-to-day work.
Other departments, like our Parks and Recreation Department, had to build their system of record from scratch. Before they went live with Cityworks, the Parks Department collected every sprinkler head, trash can, swing, slide, pavilion—you name it. It took about six months to complete, but now they have a robust geospatial infrastructure that will support their operations for years to come.
Once our asset management system was in place, the next logical area of improvement was in our warehouse. The addition of Cityworks Storeroom expanded the capacity of our centralized system of record, and it opened up communication between field crews and warehouse staff. Once materials are added to work orders, the warehouse staff can see exactly what’s needed, pull the necessary items, and let the field crews know when everything is ready.
As a result of the improved communication, the City of Weatherford saw significant cost savings in just a short period of time. Prior to the Storeroom implementation, our inventory audit saw a variance of negative $66,706—or 0.02 percent. In the first fiscal year after the implementation, the warehouse inventory audit saw a variance of positive $3067—or 0.00089 percent.
System of Engagement
You can’t have an effective system of record unless management, field crews, and the public have user-friendly points of access. In 2013, the same year we first implemented Cityworks AMS and Storeroom, our field crews and warehouse staff went live with Freeance Mobile for Cityworks on iPads.
More recently, we also implemented a WinCan-Cityworks integration that has dramatically improved time savings for our Water and Wastewater Department. Like many other cities, our camera inspection crews are required to inspect a certain number of lines each month.
With our previous system, the CCTV crew member would have to come back to the office at the end of the day and spend an hour adding inspection data manually into Cityworks. If that crew member is working an eight-hour day, he’s losing more than 12 percent of his day on data entry alone.
The WinCan-Cityworks integration eliminated that wasted time. Now, when a CCTV inspection is complete, the data and media files collected by WinCan automatically populate the appropriate Cityworks inspection fields. It’s also much easier to pull information about any given pipe segment. The manager can simply search for an address or location and have the inspection data immediately accessible.
We also believe in the power of enlisting the public to help us identify and report issues in their community. The City of Weatherford uses CitySourced to power our myWeatherford app. Prior to the implementation, we had too many different types of services requests coming in, and we didn’t have an efficient method for responding to the requests. myWeatherford gives the public one centralized tool for looking up information, reporting issues, and staying informed on open requests. And, like all our tools, it integrates seamlessly with Cityworks and ArcGIS.
Over the course of four years, we received and completed 2,000 service requests through myWeatherford.
By limiting the number of walk-ins, phone calls, and emails city staff had to process manually, we realized a cost savings of more than $75,000.
System of Insights
Once our systems of record and engagement were in place, we could begin building our system of insight. We immediately saw the benefits of capturing the true cost of work. Now, management can evaluate the cost of their operations and make accurate business cases for budgetary needs.
We also look for opportunities to integrate third-party analytics tools into our platform. For example, PAVER calculates a condition score for each of our streets based on the work history we’ve captured in Cityworks. By placing these condition scores on a citywide map, we can help both the streets team and city council prioritize capital improvement projects.
As our departments continue to collect more data, we will look for other opportunities to implement other analytics solutions to support improved decision-making across the entire organization. The goal for us, ultimately, is to give each of our stakeholders a single point of access for the information they need. By consciously choosing software solutions that are easier to manage and control, we can achieve a great return on investment for our organization and our community as a whole.
Austin Nichols is a business analyst at the City of Weatherford Information Technology Department.