Azteca Systems Marketing and Communications Specialist Lindsay Ferguson recently chatted with Nicole Dogan, GIS Manager, Town of Flower Mound, Texas.
Cityworks: Describe the challenges Flower Mound faced with managing assets.
Nicole Dogan: Before Cityworks, the Town of Flower Mound did not utilize any commercially available asset management systems. Each department had set up separate systems to manage work. None of them were specifically designed for utilities, nor did they communicate with each other. Some departments used paper while others used software not intended for utility asset management. Departments exchanged work information via telephone and email, duplicating data and making it difficult to process work orders or identify status.
We wanted to implement an organization-wide asset management system, used by multiple departments, that would track work and take advantage of our existing GIS. Following an in-depth evaluation, we determined Cityworks met the town’s requirements in the most cost-effective way.
CW: In what departments is Cityworks used?
ND: Flower Mound uses Cityworks in several departments. The Customer Relations Section receives citizen calls/requests and enters them into Cityworks as service requests. Specific departments are automatically notified of new service requests and work orders that pertain to them based on previously established schema.
Customer Relations also utilizes Cityworks to track external utility issues, such as damaged streetlights. External vendors are set up as employees but without access permissions. This way, vendors can receive an email about an issue while Customer Relations maintains the requests, allowing staff to track incidents by utility provider and asset feature.
The Public Works divisions (Water, Sanitary and Storm Sewers, Streets, Signals, and Signs), Parks department, and Meter Services all use Cityworks to distribute and track requests for service and work orders. The system keeps track of labor, equipment, and materials applied per job and by utility feature.
The Utility Billing and Fire departments also use Cityworks as a notification system. Staff enters service requests primarily for water services that are routed to the Water Section, who then complete the documentation and issue work orders if necessary. Though Animal Services, Code Enforcement, and Police Departments do not access Cityworks directly, they are set up to receive citizen complaint emails. Customer Relations closes requests for these departments.
The GIS section manages the Cityworks database and set-up, coordinating with departments to ensure a sound business process is implemented and information flows freely between departments. The GIS section also coordinates service request and work order templates, questions, employee records, access, and material and vehicle costs.
CW: Describe the benefits the town has experienced with Cityworks.
ND: The ability for the departments to utilize a single asset management system is likely the biggest benefit. Each department is able to easily manage the assets for which it is responsible. That alone has improved our ability to effectively maintain utilities.
Organization-wide access to Cityworks has improved workflow and increased the amount of work being completed. The single system reduces the duplication of work and, once a service request or work order is initiated, it is automatically routed to the correct recipient. Work status can easily be checked at anytime without disturbing anyone. The emails and phone calls previously required to assign work or inquire about status are no longer necessary and, though work-related interruptions might not be quantifiable, we definitely see a difference. Improved communication between departments and utility providers creates a quicker turn-around time for problems, and thus, a faster resolution of citizen complaints.
CW: How has Cityworks enhanced the town’s budgeting efforts?
ND: Quantification of work performed allows purchasing patterns to be identified and creates the data to support better, more informed budgeting. Departments can now easily quantify the need for staff or materials. Previously, we did not track material or labor costs and, though a narrative of work performed was available, it was cumbersome to extract information. Resources were not tracked or monitored, which weakened the validity of budgets. Now, with a better knowledge base, predicting required funds for the coming year is much improved.
With Cityworks, the ability to accurately measure resources—labor, materials, and equipment—generates a clear indication of resources needed for the next year. Cityworks has improved the effectiveness of budgeting and justifies funding for specific projects and utility maintenance.
CW: How has Cityworks’ GIS-centric capabilities benefited the organization?
ND: The GIS-centric nature of Cityworks has improved asset (feature) maintenance. Cityworks inherently connects work performed on a particular asset directly to that asset. In doing so, departments are able to easily identify lingering or recurring issues through the GIS. If an asset feature shows it has been repaired multiple times, it may be aging faster than anticipated and can be scheduled for replacement before it fails and has a more significant impact on the system. Minor repairs and scheduled maintenance are much less costly to rectify than an emergency situation.