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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.

Implementation

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.

Embracing Mobile and Boosting Data: How this Electric Utility Achieved Goals with Automation

By Blog

Like many utilities, the City of Ocala’s Electric Utility in Florida struggled with the time-consuming and manual processes surrounding callout for their field employees. Union rules made the order of employees called complicated, and their existing solution could not phone more than two workers at once. Even more challenging, the system was not able to provide reports on the callout results. Meaning they weren’t tracking when employees declined or failed to answer, or even when an employee was skipped.

ARCOS understands callout complexity and has an automated solution. Our software is configurable to automatically apply the rules and needs of any business, accounting for the agreements already in place. It provides real-time reporting, is flexible and agile, and can be scaled up or down for any size organization.

Ocala Seeks a Solution

The City Council of Ocala had a strategic goal of operational excellence. Their software was not meeting the organization’s needs for emergency calls. Besides only being able to run two calls at once, it did not take into account union rules, employee skills, or rest time. Employees reported being skipped or not being able to accept a call, but Ocala couldn’t verify these claims.

Marvin Ayala, director of Ocala Electric Utility, brought ARCOS as a solution before the City Council. He was certain that “The ARCOS callout system will improve system reliability, customer satisfaction, and transparency for both field employees and supervisors.” The City Council agreed, unanimously approving building a partnership with ARCOS.

Moving into the Future with ARCOS

The ARCOS Callout and Scheduling solution was a perfect fit for all of Ocala’s needs. Rather than being limited to two calls at a time, ARCOS can call all needed employees at once, avoiding bottlenecks and speeding up response time. Real-time reporting means that all those call attempts are tracked with specificity. Any call can be looked back on, and reports can be run on the whole callout or on series of callouts.

Using advanced algorithms, ARCOS can mirror exactly any number of workplace agreements that utilities have made with their employees. Seniority, availability, and skill are all considered when determining call order. This eliminates grievances almost entirely. ARCOS’s reporting means it’s easy for supervisors to check records if there are questions, providing transparency and forensic capability for all.

Going Mobile

The final cherry on top is ARCOS’s mobile app. With it, employees can see where they are in the roster order and their callout acceptance rate. They can accept a callout in the app or by text, as well as by answering their phones. Supervisors can see and adjust schedules and roster order through the app, too. At any time, they can check what resources are available. With the mobile solution, ARCOS gives visibility into operations from anywhere.

OEU found ARCOS to be the right solution for their 54,000 customers. With flexibility and configurability, ARCOS can be the right solution for any utility. Learn more about ARCOS resource management software by contacting us today.

ARCOS MOBILE WORKBENCH for Mobile Work Management: One Source of Truth for Multiple Challenges

By Blog

Work management is a challenge for everyone, no matter the industry. You’re often using multiple systems that don’t talk to one another as you try to effectively coordinate workers, equipment, and jobs. Or maybe you’re using a paper process, which can result in a backlog of days or weeks to get updates entered into the system of record. With an increase in storms and generational turnover, this can get even more complicated to manage.

An automated system can make this whole process easier. It can serve as a single source of truth for all activities at once. It replaces paper with a portal every worker can log into and check at any given moment from any location, improving coordination and eliminating delayed updates. Assignments can go out to multiple individuals and crews at once, offering a standardized process for everyone.

The Flexibility of an All-in-One Solution

ARCOS Mobile Workbench combines all the work assignments, updates, and reports into one easy-to-use system, eliminating tedious manual work and seamlessly integrating your existing legacy systems.  Or you can run everything completely through ARCOS – whatever works best for your process.

If you already use ARCOS, Mobile Workbench is just another tab in your interface, right alongside Callout and Crew Manager, and can easily share data with those features. You’ll be able to see every project, every work order, every crew, and filter on them. You can review expected hours and any adjustments as they come, giving early warning before crews run over time and budget. You can export comprehensive reports back to your chosen system or download them in spreadsheets, and can even approve changes on the ground in real-time without needing to pick up the phone.

ARCOS has been integrating with various software solutions for about twenty years, so we have lots of experience integrating right into your existing system. This allows you to assign jobs in ARCOS or in the programs you already use. Similarly, ARCOS has a built-in unit library, or you can connect your own, so the rights parts can be selected for a work order and the associated details are automatically added. Basically, we work with you and your existing processes, whatever those may be.

Mobile Solutions to Common Challenges

A large challenge is keeping the back office and field personnel (including contractors and mutual assistance workers from other companies) on the same page. ARCOS Mobile Workbench connects them with live updates. Tickets can be assigned in the office or in the field, and workers get those assignments on their phone or tablet instantly, including all the details and information they need to complete the job. They can then make updates that are seen in real-time by the office staff.

The correct forms pop right up when employees access a job assigned to them, and you can customize ARCOS Mobile Workbench to include any forms you need. Workers can add their notes, photos, and red line edits – anything they would do in a paper or manual system – right into the app, or even scan in QR Codes. Locations are tracked ONLY when the app is running, and can automatically figure drive time, as well as provide navigation instructions in the employee’s favorite map system without needing a street address.

ARCOS Mobile Workbench is completely secure, with only those granted access by the server able to see the information. Data is encrypted both at rest and in transit, so you control who accesses it.

You can sync with ARCOS Schedule data, and your field supervisors can adjust hours as needed. You can easily track all your expenses, time, and equipment. There’s also a built-in GIS viewer. ARCOS licenses this by site, so you won’t have to use individual licenses for any employees, contractors, or anyone else who accesses it.

The Importance of Offline Capability

ARCOS Mobile Workbench is compatible with any mobile device, and even useable offline, with work orders and all associated data downloaded in small packets on your phone so it doesn’t take up memory. This is ideal for storm situations when signals may not be readily available. And as soon as you get even a tiny bit of connection back, the system will automatically instantly update without employees needing to manually submit anything.

If ARCOS Mobile Workbench sounds like a solution for your company, contact ARCOS now to get started. Or check out this on-demand demo at your leisure. (We promise, it will only take a few minutes.)

How Automating and Digitizing Your Processes Can Support Your Green Initiatives

By Blog

Companies across the world are setting green initiatives to prepare for a more sustainable and efficient future. Whether your utility is focused on combatting climate change, meeting new government and regulatory standards, or just becoming more efficient and paperless, automation and digitization will continue to play a key role in the industry going forward.

Any time new technology disrupts an industry, it can be a challenge to adapt. Thankfully, smart, well-considered software, like ARCOS’ Resource Management platform, is here to not only assist you in meeting your goals, but help your business thrive. Automation and digitization don’t have to be scary; they can make you more efficient, productive, and dynamic, and increase happiness for your staff and customers.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits to be gained through these advancements.

Ditching the paper.

One of the most basic things you can do is eliminate paper consumption and waste in your workplace. It takes about 390 gallons of oil to produce one ton of paper. That’s a huge amount of resources used, and if you’re like most utilities, you’ve historically used a lot of paper for everything from reports to memos to tracking.

By replacing paper with digital records, you not only help the environment, but also have a more reliable source of truth for your business that can be accessed anywhere at any time. You’re not going to misplace a digital record and can control who accesses it. Logs can show any changes made, creating an easy-to-use record of real-time and historical data. Not to mention, the costs saved by not having to constantly buy more paper for your operations and space saved by not having to store physical records.

This more convenient way to access information can also be extended to customers. A multichannel platform is a must for those who utilize your services to login, see their data, and pay bills. You can capitalize on this interface by helping shape and deepen customer relationships. You can give them the information they need for sustainable and energy-saving best practices in their own home and let them take a more active role in their utility usage.

Standardizing your data.

One of the benefits of moving from a paperless system to a digital one is instituting common interfaces and practices. If all data is input and tracked the same way, there is standardization across departments and locations. Mistakes can be almost completely eliminated, and you won’t have to worry about differing management or training affecting your records.

With this kind of consistency, it’s easier to make decisions in the office instead of on-site, standardizing your processes and choices, as well. Best practices can be identified and applied across the company rapidly. You can communicate to all crews, wherever they may be, and give them instruction based on real-time and complete information.

Automate your tasks.

Basic administrative tasks eat up time your team could be using for strategic planning. , an organization with 5,000 employees can spend up to four million hours per year on unnecessary tasks and inefficient processes. That’s a lot of wasted minutes.

Think about which tasks in your office can be automated. Do you do any tracking through manual processes? ARCOS automatically records everything done on our platform so you don’t have to, and delivers thorough reporting in real-time. Human error is taken out of the equation when software automatically tracks, making it easier to resolve errors and inquiries.

We’re not just talking about administrative work, either. Remote sensors and smart meters can keep your back office informed about what is happening in the field at all times. Smart grid technology can diagnose issues on the fly and help analyze whatever is happening. This way, you can be more responsive to a problem when it arises, or even before it occurs.

More robust reporting.

Automating allows for better and more accurate reporting, while allowing you to identify trends and areas for improvement more easily. Then, you can use that data to improve your operations and the company bottom line, becoming more efficient in terms of time or resources saved. It also allows you to perform predictive maintenance, analyzing where repairs and replacements will be needed next and being proactive in keeping your customers satisfied.

In ARCOS, there are a variety of standard reports built into the system for all of the most common data points you need. We can also build custom reports to track whatever your business most wants to see for their operations.

Connected in the field.

With automation and digitization, it’s much easier to send the optimal employee or crew to the locations that need served. Technology can help you find who’s closest to the trouble, who is most qualified to deal with the problem, and what resources are needed. This can increase workforce availability, reduce travel time, and eliminate repeat trips for a single issue. It can optimize your work schedule by making sure travel and shift fills are efficient, using technology to help you make informed, quick decisions.

With an app like ARCOS Mobile Workbench, crews can be dynamically and instantly redirected as needed. They don’t need to report to a central hub because they can get their instructions wherever they are. They can also communicate back, providing updates electronically. This gives the back office real-time insight into everything that is happening and allows easy adjustments on the fly. It keeps all your employees connected and your company cohesive.

To fully implement digital and automation services effectively requires an investment of time and money. Not only are there costs in setting up the systems, but employees need to be trained to use it and incentivized to do so consistently until it becomes the way things are done.

But as you can see from above, there are a lot of benefits to making this investment, and returns can add up quickly only implemented. Rolled out with a plan and specific goals for the staff to hit, you can soon transition to a more futuristic, modern organization, benefiting both your employees and your customers.

If you’re ready to make the leap, or are interested in hearing more about what a system like ARCOS can do for your utility and your green initiatives, contact us today.

One Source of Truth to Track Them All

By Blog

With major storms becoming more frequent, it’s important to have a system in place to keep track of the work you do. You’ll want to be able to review decisions, go through a playback of your organization’s activities, and add up the costs quickly, accurately, and with verification. You want to be able to use that knowledge not just now, but to plan for future events. And you’ll want to do it without having to spend weeks or months entering data into spreadsheets.

One Source of Truth

Thankfully, with today’s technology, data doesn’t have to be captured on paper that may get lost in the shuffle. Instead, there are electronic solutions that give you one source of truth for all your restoration activities and save you time searching for data for reporting in multiple places.

For instance, data collection for a Category 2 hurricane might take six months to compile without an electronic solution to log hours, crews, and resources. Typically, there will be interviews with employees, collecting pictures and notes, finding GPS coordinates for each repair, adding up meal costs, and reviewing documentation of every task.

The ARCOS Resource Management platform can help by pulling everything you need together in one place with real-time reporting, saving you weeks and months of compiling data during the recovery process. One of our utility partners said switching from a manual process to ARCOS cut their time spent for storm recovery in half.

Crew Manager Tracks It All

ARCOS Crew Manager can help you capture everything you need for reporting, such as the number and make-up of crews, as well as how long they worked. Our software logs employees, resources (such as lodging, food, and fuel), and equipment on a minute-by-minute basis. You can watch activities in real-time, and run comprehensive reports after the fact.

With ARCOS Damage Assessment, employees in the field can see where they’re going and what they’re doing instantly. Gone are the obstacles of communication and information lost in the handoffs of paper packets. Everyone can see what needs to be done clearly, in electronic form. Field workers can even add pictures to support the reports and any additional notes, everything they would have included on a paper log.

Contractors in the Same System

ARCOS Resource Assist adds contractors into your own system just as seamlessly. With a few keystrokes, you can request and confirm exactly the type of workers you need. Contractors can respond via their own portal within Resource Assist, even pre-building crews before the storm and swapping personnel as needed. You can see all updates instantly, fully integrated with your own staff in Crew Manager.

Storm Reporting Made Simple

Recovering the costs of storm restoration can be a challenge. It’s time-consuming, and much of the data you need may be with outside contractors. During restoration efforts, the focus is on getting service restored to customers, not sweating the details. But FEMA, regulators, and private carriers require adequate documentation in order to return the spending to you.

By using ARCOS, you can eliminate the guesswork, with an immediate and accurate gathering of the numbers you need. We streamline the process and put in place one source of truth for you to figure out what was spent and how it was distributed. There’s no digging through paperwork or comparing conflicting notes – if they were even kept and organized correctly. Everything you need is all in one place, and reports can be configured to your needs.

If you’d like to learn more, contact ARCOS now and review our Storm Cost Recovery Whitepaper. We’d love to provide a solution for you.