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Benefits of Work Management Software

By Blog

Person standing by a meter and taking advantage of the benefits of work order management softwarePiles of spreadsheets and making updates to rosters by phone call and fax are a hassle. In the modern era, work can be managed electronically. Field workers can update a centralized system instantly, so the back office has full visibility into operations. This allows for real-time status updates, swift adjustments as needed, comprehensive and accurate tracking and reporting, and a convenient path to submit feedback. Taken altogether, a well-designed work order management system is easy to use and brings all the data you need into one place.

ARCOS is one such system, with our suite of solutions for all your work order management needs. Our Callout solution lets you build rosters and get employees assigned to jobs quickly. Crew Manager gives you a full view of everything happening at any given time in a configurable dashboard, which you can break down into as many views as you may want or need. Resource Assist adds contractors into the system right alongside your internal employees, which creates a seamless combination of the two. Mobile Workbench brings work management functionality into the field, with those on assignments able to keep the back office always appraised of their progress.

Benefits of a Work Order Management System

We all know that quick, efficient restoration is what customers seek to keep them happy. To do that, work needs to run smoothly. Hundreds of maintenance and repair requests may come in at any given time and you need a way to respond to them systematically and rapidly. Each situation is unique, but there are commonalities and patterns you’ve identified and built-for over the years.

ARCOS’ work order management software helps you take those legacy processes and modernize them to be more efficient and automated. This includes finding the right employee or contractor for the given job, managing the resources they need, and having the data to analyze and plan for the next occurrence. We can work with you to transfer what you’re already doing into a digitized system and automate many of your regular tasks.

All of this decreases costs because it guarantees the right resources, including experienced personnel, are sent the first time. Automating recurring tasks also saves money because they can be initiated fast, with just a couple of clicks. The efficiency gained leads to better performance. With strong tracking, preventive maintenance can also easily be added into the process, preventing the need for costly repairs and downtime.

How ARCOS Does It, Configurable to Your Processes

Our Resource Assist module allows you to connect to thousands of contractors. If those you’re used to working with aren’t already in the system, it only takes a few minutes to set them up; you can then load them into Crew Manager with just a few clicks.

Once in Crew Manager, you can set crews, assign them work, and allocate equipment, lodging, and more. Our timeline functionality lets you see what’s happening right now, what’s scheduled for the future, or what was happening at any given point in the past. This makes reporting for process analysis or invoicing a breeze. You can sort by just about any criteria you can think of, allowing quick glances at service areas, work orders, and more. Also, your staff can keep you informed of progress through Mobile Workbench.

In the field, Mobile Workbench gives workers everything they need to know for the task at hand, right on the phone they use every day. They can see problem areas, equipment, stock, and notes. They can make their own additions and alterations, which are communicated instantly to you. You can even reroute them or give them a heads up on their next assignment. And, if they run into problems, it’s simple to reassign any unfinished work to another team based on the same criteria.

Work Order Management software improves accuracy and efficiency, reducing human error and redundancy. It’s a single source of truth for all of your operations, constantly refreshed with real-time updates.

To learn more about ARCOS’ suite of solutions, and how they can apply to your existing operations, contact us today.

The Real Eye of the Hurricane Part 1: Restoration & Resource Management

By Blog

Crews clean up a residential street during hurricane seasonAlthough it seems like we just got through hurricane season, 2022’s season will be upon us soon. ARCOS wants to help every utility be prepared. In this three-part blog series, we’ll address:

  • Solutions needed to make operations more efficient before and after a large event
  • How to reduce restoration costs through real-time reporting and flexibility
  • Ways to streamline FEMA and regulator reporting for a larger reimbursement

Welcome to our first installment, where we’ll cover the challenges surrounding Restoration and Resource Management.

Step One: Be Prepared

The real beginning to a project of this magnitude starts with pre-planning. Having a dynamic restoration outline in place, based on past events, is essential to organizing a rapid response.

Utilities who use ARCOS have a solid footing for crew and resource management from the get-go, using a historical record of every event that has come before. They can prepare various scenarios and workgroups ahead of time, ready in moments to ramp up or ramp down operations, making response times quicker. They know how many resources they have at their disposal, how crews were previously distributed, and what previous event time frames look like.

Secure in that historical knowledge, utilities can move on to making their pre-event plans wider in range and scope. They can expand and cover more operational tasks, like inventory procurement and increased health and safety measures. A utility no longer must construct crews on the fly during an emergency. They can be prepared ahead of time and simply adjusted, if needed, when implemented.

Proven Results: Ready Before the Storm

In the case of Hurricane Ida last year, utilities knew the storm was coming. They started using ARCOS Crew Manager days ahead of time to track and manage their teams. They seamlessly folded more than 27,000 mutual assistance and contractor crews from thirty-six states and the District of Columbia into the same system. Through ARCOS, they managed and tracked all the associated equipment and specialty tools needed to restore power, as well as every crew member’s hotel and lodging logistical data.

They were ready once Hurricane Ida made landfall and started on its destructive path. The head start created by Crew Manager, due to rosters and teams already being uploaded into the software, significantly shortened the time crews took to arrive on the scene. Pre-placed, crews were ready at staging areas spread across the hurricane ravaged area.

After initial damage assessment was completed, operators using Crew Manager sent out teams to the work that was defined as needed accomplished first. This included dispatching wire-down safety personnel, equipment, repair crews, and stage site management groups. By providing the latest data from the field and sharing it with every invested stakeholder, ARCOS Crew Manager made sure crews could safely, quickly, and efficiently re-wire and replace damaged transmission equipment. Power was restored quickly to thousands of customers.

ARCOS Service: Here for you When it Matters Most

Working with Ida-affected utility IT and Operations departments, ARCOS Support, Customer Success, Development, QA, and Product Management teams stayed online with the utility’s teams throughout the duration of the event to ensure that they had what they needed in their time of crisis. ARCOS was a part of their critical operations systems, such as OMS, WMS, GIS, SCADA, and CIS. The ARCOS teams helped support restoration processes to get power back to customers quicker.

2021 saw 17 tropical storms, seven hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. It’s impossible to know just how many will come in 2022, but we do know that destructive storms are continuing to become more severe. To respond, restore and report to the increasing frequency of devastating weather events, ARCOS Crew Manager is a must-have technology.

In our next blog, we’ll look at how ARCOS Solutions can provide the necessary reporting for storm cost reimbursement. Join us for the “The Real Eye of the Hurricane Part 2.”

Contact ARCOS to learn more about bolstering your storm response, and check out this whitepaper on how ARCOS can help increase your storm cost recovery reimbursement.

Speeding Up Restoration by Digitally Linking to Contractors

By Blog

Two linemen working on a poleWith so many things being instantly available in modern society, it can be a challenge to satisfy eager customers when services go down. They likely don’t know just how much happens behind the scenes to bring their utility service to them and are looking for an immediate fix.

When it comes to restoration, a big challenge for many companies is lining up contractors to assist. Bringing in additional crews can be a timely process, with back-and-forth communications to outside companies and roster spreadsheets that need multiple updates. This impacts the overall speed of the repair greatly.

Once the fixes are in-process, some utilities have turned to text messages and online portals to communicate repair status with their customers. This gives some insight into the process and sets expectations for when services may be running again. But isn’t it even better if the fix itself can be quicker?

Automating the Process

A large part of the time involved in restoration is spent communicating with employees and assigning them specific work. This includes both internal staff and outside contractors, the latter of which often requires a separate process. Add to that the slowdowns that happen along the way, from errors in data entry, to making changes on the fly once the full extent of the damage is known. Sometimes, workers or contractors without the correct skillset are sent to the wrong place. Then there’s the closing -out of the event, which often requires reconciling money spent on work done and reporting on all activities,; including data that you may have to wait to get from contracting partners.

The ARCOS Resource Management platform can improve much of that process by automating assignments and reporting. Rosters can be automatically built by skillset and availability, calling out just who is needed. Crews can be assigned and monitored in Crew Manager. Contractors and mutual assistance employees can be easily integrated into your existing system with Resource Assist, making them part of your workflow rather than an exception.

Real-World Success

One of our utility partners, FirstEnergy, is one of America’s largest investor-owned utilities. Their storm response team includes nearly 100 contractor companies, as well as their own staff. Since adding Resource Assist to their workflow, FirstEnergy has filled tens of thousands of requests for crews, expediting restoration, eliminating errors, and speeding up reconciliation.

They’ve gone from a largely manual process to using our automated portal, making changes quickly and efficiently. Instead of taking hours to build crews, FirstEnergy now begins assigning work within ten minutes of receiving responses.

Another utility partner, Pacific Gas and Electric, uses ARCOS Resource Management daily for clear sky operations, as well as storm support. They’ve eliminated inconsistencies, standardized their crew building process, and now track their work digitally. They can see a snapshot of which crews and equipment are available from their teams and contractors well in advance, or in real-time. This allows them to plan for exactly the number of additional resources and employees needed at any moment.

Once PG&E helped their contractor partners get registered in Resource Assist, the time required to request and manage those crews was reduced by 80%. They no longer have any mistakes when assembling rosters. They know every day just how many contractors are on their property, where they are, and what they’re doing.

Quick and Efficient

All our processes are configurable, and we will work with you to design a solution that fits your existing workflows. We can minimize the manual parts of your processes, saving you administrative time and money, and digitally connect you to your contracting partners to secure resources in minutes. Best of all, you’ll be able to get services back to your customers as quickly as possible – making them, and you, happy.

To learn more about saving time and speeding up your restoration with the ARCOS Resource Management platform, read our latest case study or contact ARCOS now.

How Digitization Can Improve Efficiency and Help Attract New Talent

By Blog

Woman working at a computerFrom an aging work force to the difficulties of attracting new employees in a tight job market, the utility industry is facing plenty of challenges. When you are struggling to deal with the day-to-day challenges, plus any emergencies that come up, it’s hard to think about making improvements. It’s even more difficult when a company’s culture, as many are, is resistant to change. Digitization can help improve efficiency and help attract new talent.

If done correctly, the shift from manual to digital processes can help your business combat inefficiency in a variety of ways. This doesn’t mean just installing limited digital projects, siloed as their own initiatives, without making changes to anything else. Instead, the solution involves embracing the agile, ever-changing digital world we live in.

This process evolution will appeal to younger hires who don’t want to deal with inefficient legacy systems and help position your organization to be more competitive in the modern job market. ARCOS can help with a suite of resource management solutions to manage all your resources, often building upon your existing framework and integrating with your other digital systems.

Getting More Done with Less

In this job environment, finding enough new employees to fill the ranks is tough. What’s more, somewhere between a quarter and a third of the utility workforce is approaching retirement age and will soon be taking their experience and knowledge out the door with them. Companies are faced with trying to get more done than ever with fewer resources than they’re used to having. As a result, legacy processes need a refresh.

Digitization can improve your efficiency, allowing you to get more work done with a smaller staff. By using technology to map resources, you can direct the closest resources to both planned and unplanned work. This allows you to be agile and adjust staff while they are still in the field – no need to bring them back in or make a bunch of phone calls. This allows for jobs to be completed quicker will fewer miles driven. That in turn saves time and money.

Visibility In the Field

Speaking of being in the field, workers can make use of digital apps on mobile devices to keep the back office updated at all times. This allows greater visibility for management, meaning they can catch mistakes before they happen, and reroute crews as priorities change. This is beneficial in blue skies but even more so in grey where the situation on the ground can change quickly.

With this kind of transparency, gone are mistakes that may happen with miscommunications across departments. Employees won’t be assigned to duplicate jobs. Workloads can be rebalanced as needed. Contractors can be added right into your own system, alongside internal employees, so they can be managed in the same ways and with the same oversight.

Additionally, you can build the digital forms that field workers use, standardizing reports to get the same information, the same way, every time.

Easy Reporting

Lots of time is often spent digging through paper reports, rooting through file cabinets, and compiling relevant information. Digitizing can eliminate much of that time and effort by providing comprehensive data, configurable for a variety of situations. Much of the tracking in digital systems is done automatically, eliminating manual data entry and filing processes, and ensuring accuracy. Because the information is stored electronically in standardized formats, it can be pulled, sorted, and filtered quickly and easily in a variety of views.

You can use this data to quickly identify inefficiencies, areas for growth, and other patterns. All of this is done with a few clicks, rather than having to manually compile and examine reports. Changes can be made to the displayed information in a couple of keystrokes.

ARCOS’ Resource Management Platform operates this way. Our digital, cloud-based systems are accessible anywhere with a large range of configurable reporting. We can help you modernize your existing processes, getting more mileage and money out of your legacy systems. This adds efficiency and savings to your processes that are working, while attracting talent to help take you to the next level with new technology.

To discuss how you can move your existing work management process into the digital realm, reach out to us today.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Homegrown and Legacy Systems

By Blog

Change can be hard, and our basic instincts often guard against making changes. You remember the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, this perfectly normal urge can allow us to grow complacent. This applies not only to our personal lives but also our work lives. The systems we use, which have been honed and refined over decades of experience, can sometimes go without review and enhancement for years. Also, even the most refined processes have room for improvement. The needs and requirements of the world keep changing and so must we to stay relevant and competitive.

The challenge is to identify what shouldn’t be touched and what can be improved upon. ARCOS understands this and has a variety of configurable options for all your business needs. We can often incorporate your legacy processes into your personalized configuration in the various ARCOS solutions. This allows you to get more mileage and leverage out of what you worked so hard to build, without disrupting your business.

Replacing Manual Processes with Automated Solutions

One way to make use of ARCOS is by updating your current technology without changing your operational processes. We can help you move things you managed on paper online without modifying the steps you take to do them in. In this way, we’re not tossing out anything, we’re just upgrading the interface you use.

For instance, you likely already have many rules when deciding which employees to call for a job based on your business needs and workforce agreements. We can configure those rules into our software and automate the calls. You no longer need to take all the agreement rules into account on the fly and this helps to eliminate mistakes. We can also call multiple employees at once, making the callout process quicker and more efficient. By replacing a cumbersome task with a few clicks of the mouse, you can still do what you do, but your time is freed up to focus on what’s really important.

If you keep employee schedules in the ARCOS system, you will always know who is truly available, not just who is supposed to be available. This means there isn’t time wasted calling those on PTO or who are already out on another call. Even without the full schedules, each callout will take into account the unreleased callouts that came before.

Reporting Made Effortless

Reporting is another place where ARCOS comes in handy. In the scenario described above, the team making the manual calls needed to keep meticulous records in case a grievance was filed, or an employee questioned the order of those called. Besides essentially eliminating grievances because the system follows the configured rules every time, in ARCOS everything is tracked automatically so you can look back at what was done at any time.

The automated reporting capabilities are not just limited to callouts. Everything you do in ARCOS, from assigning schedules and rosters to managing crews and incidents, is captured and recorded. We have a variety of always available, built-in reports and can build custom reports as needed. This takes a lot of burden off the staff and saves countless administrative hours collecting and inputting data and updates manually.

With ARCOS’s robust reporting, it’s easier to identify weaknesses or areas of improvement. Managers will have more time to look over data and see the trends, as well as analyze performances. In this way, you’ll be able to figure out what truly does need to be changed and what’s already working with a minimal amount of manual effort.

Uniting the Backoffice and Field

By keeping all processes and reporting in one place, you will have instant access to all your information wherever you are. ARCOS offers mobile solutions, too, so that your field workers can keep the entire staff apprised of everything being done outside of the office. ARCOS becomes a single, central source of truth for work done anywhere, removing delays in reports coming in and being entered into the system. You will finally get a real-time look at the entire operation, resources and personnel.

This serves multiple purposes that go beyond the data-centric. It 1) more fully connects your team, 2) makes communication easier while allowing for adjustments on the fly, and 3) lets you manage the flow of work in blue skies or grey, being nimble and responsive to the situation on the ground.

ARCOS doesn’t need to change your current process unless you want it changed. Instead, we help you update your technology and enable your systems to talk to one another while keeping everything that is already proven to be working well.

To learn how we can work with you to seamlessly blend your legacy operations with our technological upgrades, contact us today.

How to Reduce Grievances with an Easy-to-Implement, Comprehensive Callout Solution

By Blog

Kansas City Power & Light had a situation. Callouts were taking hours. Grievances were piling up. Every adjustment to the process caused another challenge. The system they were using wasn’t working and the implementation team, newly formed to handle the situation, was given a deadline to replace it by the end of the year. This was a tight timeframe and whatever solution they chose would need buy-in from multiple parties, including members from two separate unions.

Enter ARCOS. Our configurable callout solution can be implemented quickly and easily, decreasing manual callout processes from hours to minutes. It takes into account all your union and business rules to create fast and reliable calls. ARCOS also logs every action taken and call made to produce comprehensive reporting, providing all the records you need in the rare instance a grievance arises.

Vetting the Program and Exceeding the Test

KCP&L was familiar with ARCOS but they hadn’t used it. They’d heard good things from other utilities and looked into us further. They liked what they saw, but they were understandably hesitant to switch to something new – especially with the stakes involved and the fact that the last system they bought hadn’t worked out.

As a result, they hired the Edison Electric Institute to conduct a survey of companies to find out which automated callout systems they preferred. Respondents were asked what worked, what didn’t and why. This would allow KCP&L to not only know which system their peers considered the best, but what features they wanted and weak spots to avoid.

The results came in and the majority of those that used ARCOS were highly satisfied, which was in-line with the impression KCP&L already had of ARCOS. Buoyed by positive data, they decided to implement ARCOS.


KCP&L had specific guidelines they wanted ARCOS to abide by. First, they needed rapid implementation before the end of the year that wouldn’t impact their crews greatly or negatively. Moving to a new system often means an adjustment period but KCP&L didn’t have time. Everything needed to work right out of the box.

Part of minimizing worker resistance was needing fully transparent schedules and rosters that were easy for supervisors to maintain. This way the field workers could see what was expected of them. KCP&L needed 24-7-365 availability for any employee to access the system via the internet so the callout could be made from anywhere.

Lastly, the new solution needed to fully comply with all their business and union rules. If it didn’t there would be grievances, an occurrence that was a driving reason for the switch. It would make all their work to find a better system meaningless if this couldn’t be done.

ARCOS was able to satisfy all these points.

Real World Results

Tom Burke, Superintendent of Distribution System Operations for KCP&L, was pleased. Callouts that used to take hours were done in minutes or even seconds. And he wasn’t the only one who was happy. He reported widespread acceptance from workers in the field and the back office, all overwhelmingly positive.

Tony Laughlin, Superintendent of Field Operations, had a similar reaction. Grievances plummeted. The few that were reported were all traced to user error, not problems with the system. Their new ARCOS reporting backed that up and allowed for easy resolution and unerring transparency. With data instantly and always available, accountability had never been higher.

This left the team with such a positive impression that Burke said he was looking to other ways to use ARCOS in various parts of their operations. His experience left him with the confidence he could count on ARCOS and make use of it more widely.

What more can you ask for?

To read more about KCP&L’s experience, check out their story in our whitepaper. Then, if you’d like us to do the same for you, contact ARCOS today.


Making the Most of Smart Grid Efficiency with Automated Resource Management

By Blog

The Smart Grid is more than just intelligent meters or an opportunity to promote green energy. It’s a whole new cost-saving way of looking at how a utility does business from top to bottom, and how utilities will continue to evolve in the future. In its simplest form, the Smart Grid is a network of self-sufficient systems that support the integration of power generation sources. It aims to reduce workforce while cost-effectively supplying reliable and sustainable electricity to customers, businesses, and organizations. It safely and securely ensures low losses and improved reliability while integrating more renewable energy into an existing network.

ARCOS understands the need for Smart Grid operational systems to integrate with fast restoration, callout, crew, and work management applications. We provide the energy industry with a high return on investment in a SaaS resource management platform that seamlessly integrates with your existing processes for blue skies or grey. Providing comprehensive and real-time reporting, ARCOS gives you one source of truth for the entire integrated resource and mobile work management system.

ARCOS Callout and ARCOS Mobile App’s speed and efficiency has saved one company more than $6.6 million due to the reduction of time needed to administer schedules, ensure statuses, eliminate manual calls, and make sure all union rules were followed.

By permitting direct data communication between a utility and its customers, the Smart Grids allow for:

  • Instant monitoring of electricity, including outages.
  • Quicker restoration.
  • Reduced operation and management costs.
  • Savings passed on to consumers.

So, how can an automated resource management platform make your Smart Grid strategy even better?

Including ARCOS in your Smart Grid Plan
One of the most essential ways ARCOS assists with key metrics is by improving callout and mobile processes across your organization. Without an automated system, a manual callout can take hours and stall the restoration process by removing operators off-line. With an integrated resource management platform, all outage data is instantly available and can be used to automate callout and get the right people to the job quicker. The ARCOS Mobile App then allows workers in the field to keep the back office in the loop of every detail as the situation progresses.

Utilities can save even more time and money while increasing efficiency by adding ARCOS Resource Management solutions to their Smart Grid strategy. For example, Pacific Gas & Electric implemented ARCOS to help with its 20,000 employees and 16 million customers. They wanted to increase their productivity and consistency while upgrading their existing methods. ARCOS made it easier to communicate and coordinate across the organization and provided situational awareness for daily operations and emergencies.

To learn more about how our utility partners are eliminating manual processes, enhancing their existing technology, and increasing employee engagement, check out our PG&E case study.

How Coops and Municipalities can Embrace Integration and Solve Work Management Challenges

By Blog

Grant County Public Utility District had to solve a common dilemma: managing a limited number of people and an infinite amount of work. In their case, it was covering 4,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines across Washington State with only 15 field engineers. They also had a non-supported, rudimentary ticketing system and a time-consuming manual process of procuring paper maps, plans, and job packets. Communicating job statuses was tedious and inefficient.

A typical Work Management System can cost more than $10M dollars, and many utilities have already spent more than that on a variety of other legacy systems that won’t talk to one another. Thankfully, ARCOS solves challenges with cost-saving solutions that offer a high ROI for our partners, while supporting remote work. Grant County PUD required more wrench time, agile job creation and crew deployment, and a way to track and complete work faster – preferably all in one robust system. We had a solution.

A Seamless Integration
ARCOS met those challenges head-on with ARCOS Mobile Workbench. Mobile Workbench connects the back-office staff to the field in real-time, providing information back and forth instantly. It helps track employees, assignments, and equipment with ease, while empowering field workers with all the information they need to get the job done quickly and report the job status.

Mobile Workbench was able to be integrated with Grant County PUD’s existing GIS and customer service/billing system. This meant they weren’t starting over, but instead streamlining their current process and legacy systems. That made the adaptation of the new software quick and easy, and eliminated manual data entry, paper packets, making multiple trips back and forth to jobs, and lessened the need for face-to-face communication during a dynamic global pandemic.

Derin Bluhm, chief technology officer for Grant PUD, says: “There are other field service solutions, but Workbench does exactly what we want without making things overly complicated.”

Quicker Job Completion
ARCOS provided the ability for dispatch and field engineers to acquire digital real-time location services, as well as customer information for daily jobs. Schedulers were freed from trying to determine assignments for jobs as Mobile Workbench created the notifications and sent them to all available crews. Supervisors in the field were able to review the work tickets and accept them based on the crews they had on hand. If they couldn’t accept, the job was still in everyone’s job list until another supervisor could undertake the project. This sped up the receipt and completion of jobs considerably.

Once a job was marked as complete, supervisors were also able to enter timesheet information for everyone on the crew. They ensured that hours worked were captured quickly and tracked accurately. They had instant, reliable reporting for every aspect of the jobs worked.

This information was used for future benchmarking that helped define factors such as travel and response time, average time to complete certain job types, and inventory used. The data was essential in reducing costs and allowing Grant County PUD to run leaner while delivering faster day-to-day and emergency restoration services.

ARCOS Mobile Workbench is a proven asset for resource and work management. Find out the ROI and mobile work management capabilities this all-in-one solution can deliver by checking out our quick 15-minute on-demand demo.

The 5 Steps of Emergency Planning and Incident Management Best Practices 

By Blog

Now that we have gotten through another Atlantic hurricane season, it’s a good time to take stock of emergency responses and how incidents were managed. This was the third-most active season on record, providing twenty-one named storms and four major hurricanes. More than $70 billion in damage was done to the United States alone.

Hurricane Ida was a big reminder of the importance of emergency and incident planning and management. FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell called Ida, “One of the most catastrophic hurricanes to make landfall,” and she was right. Overall, over one million customers in Louisiana were without power (including the whole city of New Orleans due to catastrophic transmission damage), and even more customers were without power in Mississippi and Arkansas. One hundred-fifty miles per hour damaging winds and heavy rainfall caused flash flooding and building collapses as the storm ripped through the United States’ southern coast.

Events like this can bring incredible focus to opportunities to strengthen your operational efficiency and response. A robust, managed call to action is needed when storms strike. So, what are the best practices for emergency response? What can be used to measure the strength of incident management?

A good place to start is with the following five steps of emergency planning:

  • Assess Needs
    Strengths and weaknesses must be identified. What in your plan helps or hinders an emergency response?A simple SWOT analysis of resources, equipment, employee skillsets, and historical emergency events can go a long way in developing strategic initiatives and calls to action. It can define gaps that may exist in a critical infrastructure organization’s emergency preparedness and engagement.
  • Create a Policy
    A good policy outlines the intent and purpose of a company’s emergency response, as well as providing the contract to hold all company emergency stakeholders accountable. It starts with designating the individuals called to maintain its scope and hierarchy. It takes into account all the needs outlined in step one. It should name the Incident Command System (ICS) teams that are called up when disaster strikes.
  • Define the Emergency Response Team (ERT)
    This builds upon the first two steps above by fleshing out the ICS policy as defined by the needs. It assigns emergency roles to team members who have the best experience and knowledge of emergency response and an organization’s resources.During this stage, software like ARCOS’s Incident Manager can bring efficiency and organization to a company’s planning. Incident Manager allows a pre-labeling and identification of titles necessary for emergency response tasks and assigning names to those roles. When the incident occurs, it can activate the created teams with an alert sent through an automated callout subroutine. It’s also a scalable solution that can grow to add more team members and divisions as an event escalates or shrink as it loses steam.
  • Train, Educate, and Drill
    Those tapped for emergency response roles should always be prepped with the latest training, education, and solution outlines. Educational expenses pale in comparison to what a hurricane or wildfire can inflict on an unprepared company. Drills should occur as often as possible in the downtime between historically proven weather and devastating event seasons. All participants should be aware of their individual ICS outlines and what title they have on their ERT.
  • Perform Audits
    Reporting and reviewing is key to understanding what went right, what went wrong, and where emergency management gaps could exist in a current policy structure. It informs future planning for teams, emergency equipment inventory, logistics, and even storm cost recovery and FEMA reimbursements.Be sure there is a process in place for this type of auditing and use software that keeps one true historical record of everything like the ARCOS Resource Management platform. You need the most accurate data possible to hone and evolve plans because there will always be a next time.

ARCOS has put together an “Automating the Foundations of Incident Management” video series that expands on these concepts and provides proven actions on how to improve any organization’s emergency response.

Final Questions
As we prepare for another storm season, ask yourself:

  • Is your organization ready to quickly respond with an ICS plan and automated resource management system already in place?
  • Can your current systems help you efficiently ramp-up from blue skies to a large event?
  • What are the steps your organization is taking to ensure that emergency and incident management practices are updated and implemented?

We would love to discuss the challenges your team is currently facing, and how our ARCOS emergency planning and incident management solutions can help support you. Contact us, and let’s be ready for anything together. 

How to Speed Up Restoration by Digitizing Crew Management

By Blog

See if this process sounds familiar to you: When an event occurs, you review a spreadsheet and notate crew assignments on magnetic boards. You copy that data into a spreadsheet on the computer. Then you email or call supervisors to communicate and update those crews. As the storm increases, you open storm centers and those centers communicate with local offices, passing info back and forth as needed, and releasing personnel when you think things may be passed.

That was the process used by one of our utility partners, ComEd (Commonwealth Edison), before they switched to the ARCOS Resource Management platform. It involved 11 steps and was used to manage as many as 800 crews at a time.

It worked, but it wasn’t efficient. Often, it took hours to figure out what areas were hardest hit. Company leaders initially didn’t know how many crews were active or how many contractors to send out. Updates were not made in real-time, and not always communicated with everyone who needed to know them.

The ARCOS Solution: ARCOS Crew Manager

With ARCOS, ComEd moved from an 11-step process to a four-step one and shaved hours off their response times. They eliminated much of the manual work by using an online portal that everyone in the company who had access to could see, allowing for instant coordination. Adding additional complexities or criteria into crews is easy, as ARCOS can configure how your interface works to fit your needs, both in the initial setup, and if anything changes down the road.

ARCOS Crew Manager helps you pair crews with work and equipment to speed up restoration. You can instantly see who is available and ARCOS can automatically assign them. You can make informed adjustments on the fly and push them immediately to the field and get full situational awareness in real-time. And you can even pre-plan so your crews can get out faster.

This solution can be used on an everyday basis as well as in emergencies, making the switch between blue or grey skies seamless. You can always see where each crew and resource is at any given moment, or at any point in time as you anticipate your needs. Users can also easily integrate your contractor crews into the same system with Resource Assist, while identifying and plugging any gaps in minutes, not hours, as an event progresses.

Customize With Ease: Viewing Data and Reporting

You control the views in your Crew Manager, and can make perspectives for any situation. Set up different screens to review blue sky and storm events. Choose which resources and crews you want to see with a few clicks. Manage your department, get an overview of the entire company’s response, or switch back and forth as needed.

Your ARCOS Crew Manager solution can be configured and color-coded so you can see employee classes at a glance, all shift times, accommodation needs, and contact information. ARCOS tracks how much time each employee, crew, and staff as a whole works. All of the data is available in exportable reports in real-time, and in the future as you review your response.

Real, Verifiable Results

When you use ARCOS Crew Manager, you have one source of truth for all of your information. You’ll have high confidence in the data because you can play back the entire event before, during, and after restoration. Furthermore, detailed reporting, automatically logged in the system, allows for easy invoice verification. This will help you increase cost recovery through transparency and access to a complete, accurate history.

Could the ARCOS Resource Management platform save you from tedious manual processes around managing crews? Contact ARCOS now to start partnering with us to improve your workflow, and view our Crew Manager case study to learn more.