Posted by Kurt West on Nov 15, 2019 12:16:00 PM
Kurt West
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Water utilities provide vital resources and services for our cities and towns. 

Innovations in technology, cloud-based solutions, centralized data management, and automated devices have motivated the Effective Utility Management (EUM) Steering Group, a multi-organizational steering group to recommend devoting IT resources, towards automated water utility asset management software solutions.  

The report update published in early 2016, was one of several recommendations in the committee report which can be downloaded from the American Water Works Association website. Effective water utility management ensures our citizens are provided with safe drinking water and well-run sanitation management services. 

The Steering Group committee report proposed revisions to the current EUM framework, originally drafted in 2007, to include “Automated and ‘Smart’ Systems and Data Integration as one of the key drivers in updating the framework. The report recommends that utilities devote more IT resources to implementing resources for the following technology and data needs:

  • Smart systems deployment 
  • Database integration and management  
  • Automated devices utilization in the field  
  • Employee training needs  
  • Job reclassifications needed as technology changes operating context and employee duties 
  • Cybersecurity management 
  • Automated Power Management 
  • SCADA with integrated Control Charting for incremental process improvements and/or predictive notice of specification exceedance/or failure  

Source: Taking the Next Step: Findings of the Effective Utility Management Review Steering Group

Affordable and effective water utility asset management software for small to mid-sized water utilities 

While large water utilities can dedicate manpower and budget resources to the recommendations above, these innovations might be ‘out-of-reach’ for the smaller, cash-strapped municipality. Luckily, recent innovations in cloud-based water utility asset management software offers access to these enterprise-class solutions.   

On-Premise vs. Cloud-Based Solutions

On-premise solutions are based on computers located within your physical work location. Centralized applications and loaded onto either a centralized server, while other applications are loaded onto individual desktop computers. Premise-based systems must be maintained and upgraded by IT.

Cloud-based applications are hosted by a remote server accessible through the internet. The application provider maintains the systems and users access the solution through an internet browser. Cloud-based applications require minimal IT support, helping minimize the operating cost.

Many cloud-based applications are offered as a service (aka Software as a Subscription or SaaS) so users can pay as they go. These subscriptions usually include support and upgrades so users always have the latest features. 

Cloud-based water utility asset management software can be accessed anywhere

Accessibility to applications and data is one of the biggest benefits of cloud-based water utility asset management software solutions. All users are able to access the application at the same time and share access to data, reports, and analytics.  

For instance, when you use water utility asset management software solutions, field workers are able to update work orders in real-time. Managers or supervisors can also access water utility asset management reports while in the field, which eliminates the ‘chained-to-the-desk’ atmosphere.  

Top 10 challenges solved with water utility asset management software  

10. Managing a mobile workforce

Keeping track of a field-based water utility asset workforce can be challenging, especially if your workers are spread out over a large geographical area. A lot of managers feel they need to be in the field to properly supervise their workers, which limits their ability to perform other duties. 

9. Managing a paper-based work process 

Paper-based work order systems can appear “cheap” to manage, but these systems have a lot of downsides. For instance, paper work orders can be misplaced or destroyed, while handwritten forms can be hard to read. Paper-based filing systems also take up a lot of room and work orders can be misfiled. Filling out and filing paper reports can waste time and be extremely labor intensive.

8. Having disconnected data or computers 

DPW and water department managers rely on data to monitor system performance and ensure their city or town has a well-maintained infrastructure. Water management systems that use spreadsheets or older database systems often struggle with sharing data and keeping track of revisions and updates. If the computers aren’t connected with your water utility asset management software, maintaining accurate records can be extremely challenging.  

7. Extensive data entry tasks

Manual data entry tasks can be risky business -- it’s a thankless task that leads to errors, work backlogs, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Water utility asset management software can help improve this process for everyone. 

6. Keeping track of infrastructure assets 

Wet Utility assets require some sort of tracking and mapping application. Paper-based systems are hard to maintain and access by the field workforce. These systems can also be hard to keep up-to-date as old assets are repaired and replaced. 

5. Prolonging the life of infrastructure assets

Maintaining your aging is made easier with water utility asset management software because they update in real-time so you obtain more accounts and capture more data in the field. 

4. Producing regulatory compliance reports

Because cloud-based systems are updated in real-time, it’s easy to produce regular compliance reports with data from your water utility asset management software.  

3. Managing chain-of-custody processes

Managing chain-of-custody can be difficult in a manual, paper-based system. Because cloud-based water utility asset management systems are updated from anywhere in the field, it’s easy to confirm all names, steps and processes on each job.

2. Lack of productivity

Keeping workers motivated and productive and procedures organized are ongoing challenges for the water utility asset manager. Worker productivity decreases when workers are spending too much time on meaningless tasks or feel like they can’t keep up with their workloads. Water utility asset management software solutions make their jobs much easier, which should improve productivity. 

1. Working with a limited or shrinking budget

The number one challenge that every water utility asset manager has is tied to their operating budget. There never seems to be enough money to buy new equipment, hire more staff, or to maintain the infrastructure. Long government budgeting and approval cycles add to the pain.   

How moving to a cloud-based water utility asset management software solution can boost productivity

Reduces manual, paper-based tasks 

Manual tasks like data entry, filing or chasing clients can take up a lot of time. 

There's a cloud-based water utility asset management software solution for almost every process or task in your business and, for the most part, they’re easy to use and designed with the user in mind. Not only that, but they give the power back to you so you can better value your resources and your time.  

Everyone has a shared responsibility

Since everyone on your team can access cloud-based software from anywhere, everyone has a shared responsibility, especially when it comes to online security. 

Cloud-based water utility asset management software is the new normal. In fact, 90% of all organizations have apps running in the cloud or have plans to do so. 

Effective water utility asset management ensures our citizens are provided with safe drinking water and proper sanitation management services. One of the biggest benefits of cloud-based water utility asset management software is the accessibility to applications and data – all users can access the software at the same time and share access to data, reports, and analytics, which improves your overall effectiveness. 

 

Sources 

https://softwarestrategiesblog.com/2016/12/03/analytics-data-storage-will-lead-cloud-adoption-in-2017/ 

https://softwarestrategiesblog.com/tag/2017-cloud-computing-adoption/ 

https://www.flexera.com/blog/cloud/2016/02/cloud-computing-trends-2016-state-of-the-cloud-survey/#awsleads

Topics: Water asset management

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