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When a good solution means mixing your software applications together!

As with many things in life, I learned the hard way about the importance of having a complete solution in IT. My first task as an IT director was to find a way to maintain the very particular data my agency needed. We developed housing with taxpayers’ money. We needed to know where that housing was, how the project progressed and all our compliance tasks including that the assets we were creating, housing units, were properly maintained. It wasn’t until later, when we missed some of these tasks that I realized that there was a gap in my solution and hence, the title of this post!

Managing assets that have been created with public dollars is serious and important work. Knowing where those assets are, their condition and ensuring their ongoing maintenance is a substantial part of county and city expenditures. It is not surprising then that great asset management software Iike Azteca Cityworks exists. Using this solution, you can track work orders and service requests and maintain your sidewalks, parks, roads, sewer lines and water lines. And, you can connect this data to another important piece of this solution, GIS, which provides you with the map to locate these investments.

Putting together asset data and the map to find it is a great solution, but what’s missing? Well, like my experience, so much of the information that’s critical to county and city public works and asset management is still contained in documents – engineering drawings, manuals, invoices, contracts and increasingly, photos and video. And, as these critical pieces of infrastructure are being built, change orders, revisions to drawings and plans and progress payments flow in. How are these connected to the growing data record for that project or asset? How do you track changes to the project?

It is these kinds of issues that dictate a need for enterprise content management. With the capabilities of ECM, public works, roads and building departments can finally field a great team that combines asset data, GIS and document management.

Using a great asset management software like Azteca Cityworks, data about the asset is tracked and kept. This data provides layers to a GIS map so that the location of the asset can be seen in concert with other features around it and its condition can be verified later (possibly years later!) when the department needs to perform routine maintain or manage a new project.

Add ECM to the mix, and these capabilities are taken to the next level. Here’s a short list of what you’ll be able to do:

– Multiple intake methods for documents – From scanning over the counter when contractors do business in the city or county office, to batch scanning and scanning of large format documents, or intake of electronic documents like CAD drawings.

– Indexing options – It’s one thing to scan documents, but you need to be able to index so they can be retrieved. This indexing should give you options to automate indexing like bar code recognition. Time saved here can be used to improve the quality and speed of the staff’s work on repairs, maintenance and construction!

– Easy retrieval of related documents – Documents can be retrieved with a click or a hot key so that staff can move fluidly from data, to map, to document, making them more efficient and putting the complete picture in front of them as they work, manage, or approve.

– Secure storage that doesn’t break – You no longer have to worry that links to related documents will break if you need to change storage locations.

– Revisions and versions – Plans for projects change as they are reviewed by staff. You can track versions, create and audit trail of changes, preserve comments and control access to change documents. These tools preserve the integrity of the project plan.

– Expanded use options for the field – Some ECM solutions offer multiple options to support field work including offline “briefcases” to help “carry” documents to the field, iPad or smartphone document access or web client retrieval with a broadband-connected laptop or tablet.

– Support for transparency and public access to records – Your team now has the ability to provide the public with web access to documents so they can access these documents conveniently and easily, saving counter staff time that they can spend on assisting other customers.

– Shared cost of document management – While the functionality is more extensive, using an ECM solution that is not within your asset management software gives you the option to extend it across your entire government entity – state, city or county. This reduces costs, makes your document management solution easier to support and it makes training and development easier since you can share knowledge and efforts with other departments.

Maintaining public assets and infrastructure is one of the most important and difficult tasks that government does. Fielding a team of Azteca Cityworks, GIS and ECM software ensures that the importance and complexity of this work is met with the best solution possible. And, it is the teaming of these applications that can truly make a solution that can take care of important public assets.

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