SSP Lifecycle Work (formally WFM) has proven to be a valuable work management solution for utilities since it was first introduced in 2010. Recently, SSP Lifecycle Work joined a set of enterprise utility applications in a new product line offered to help transform how utilities manage work, assets, and now their GIS. It is within this new product suite that Lifecycle Work will manage all core ArcGIS Pro back office GIS editing and Utility Network management projects performed using the new SSP Productivity extension for ArcGIS Pro.
To describe this exciting, new landscape, we want to tell you how SSP Innovation’s solutions can play a role in your organization’s business processes:
As you know it today, WFM enables more efficient management of the following:
- Capital construction projects
- Service requests and service orders
- General operations and maintenance
So, what’s changing?
- WFM is joining forces with AssetLife to become SSP Lifecycle to provide complete management for fixed and cyclical assets, as well as asset maintenance. As stated in the SSP Rebranding Article: “We recognize that many utilities have either a work management system and/or an asset management system – and as such, SSP Lifecycle can be implemented in its component parts if only one is required (we’re referring to them as “SSP Lifecycle Work” and “SSP Lifecycle Assets”).”
- SSP Lifecycle will additionally manage GIS data maintenance projects as a part of SSP’s new extension for ArcGIS Pro, SSP Productivity in a module called “Work for Productivity.”
SSP Productivity for ArcGIS Pro.
SSP Productivity is a new extension for performing analysis and managing a utility GIS in ArcGIS Pro. This includes all aspects of the Utility Network.
Productivity is the primary tool for assisting in all back-office maintenance of the core Utility GIS, including: map corrections, construction as-built updates, mass updates, general GIS maintenance activities, core utility network maintenance, and short transactions generated from day to day utility maintenance and operations activities (i.e. unplanned work).
How are these GIS editing projects centrally managed in SSP Productivity?
Work for Productivity.
SSP Productivity has been designed to leverage SSP Lifecycle’s powerful workflow engine for managing GIS data maintenance and network management projects with a module called, Work for Productivity. To greatly simplify and provide centralized management and oversight of core GIS updates, Work for Productivity allows users to create GIS editing projects and move the project from initial edits to final posting within the published enterprise GIS. Work for Productivity handles necessary but complex GIS components, such as versioning, so your users don’t have to be enterprise GIS experts, and can focus on what matters, your data. Whether adjusting a large capital design to record what was constructed in the field (as-built) or making map corrections to continuously improve the accuracy of your GIS, SSP Productivity and SSP Lifecycle Work seamlessly guide your users through each step of the process.
Graphic Work Design (GWD) and As Built Redlining.
SSP Innovations is working with our friends and partners in the industry, such as Epoch Solutions Group and TC Technology to provide a lightweight Graphic Work Design solution for simple Esri-based graphic designing in the field and the back office. SSP Lifecycle Work (formally WFM and referred to here as ‘Work’ within this blog post) is provided alongside these solutions as a means for managing capital projects or integrating to an existing work management system. Work manages the larger construction project. When ready, it drives the initiation of graphic designs performed in a GWD tool and receives completed designs in the form of Work estimates for costing and approval. When Work releases the project for construction, a GIS map-based redlining tool allows construction personnel to view and graphically redline the approved design in the field. As it’s completed, that information is sent back to Work, which then starts the reconciliation process by making the project available for the final asset updates in Work and SSP Productivity.
Utility Work Management Deep Dive.
How exactly does all of these solution manage utility business processes?
SSP provides a complete set of solutions for managing work and assets at your organization for all types of work. It is important to note that the example workflow below is provided for general reference purposes only because they relate to common utility business processes. Since these projects are managed by the powerful SSP Lifecycle workflow engine, they are entirely flexible and can be updated to match your organization’s specific processes.
Capital Construction Projects.
SSP Lifecycle work requests are initiated directly within SSP Lifecycle Work (referred to as ‘Work’ within this blog post) or created in Work through the Web API from an alternative system (such as a CIS or CRM). For example, the engineering department may want to use Work to establish their system improvement projects. Or customer requests can be initiated from the organization’s CIS to then create work requests in Work.
The primary utility personnel in this phase of a capital construction project is the engineer. An engineer is assigned to the project in Work when a work request is created to compile an estimate and likely build a detailed graphic design. SSP Lifecycle has a powerful estimating tool, which leverages Compatible Units, or groups of individual costed resource: material, equipment, and labor, to efficiently perform one or more cost estimates as needed. If a graphic design is needed, the graphic design tool of the engineering department’s choice can be used to sketch the design and create a printable work sketch file that can be attached to the work request. For a variety of benefits, SSP Innovations recommends choosing an Esri-aligned and Utility Network-based graphic work design tool. This enables engineers to create designs in the same Esri platform that provides your organization’s facility maps thus allowing designs to be viewed and even imported directly within the same system. When an Esri-aligned graphic design tool is being leveraged, Work makes the work request available to the GWD tool, which then accesses the work request and allows the engineer to sketch the design or designs required for the project. Once completed, the designs created in the GWD tool, are sent to Work to create estimates through the Work Create Estimate Web API. Work is used for costing and reporting and to eventually submit the project for approval.
When submitted for approval, Work sends notifications to the assigned approvers which link to the work request waiting for approval. Approvers can open the work request directly from the email to see all necessary project information in Work, such as cost, alternate estimates, and the design sketch being submitted for approval. Approvers have the option of approving the project or rejecting it back to the engineer to update it as needed or cancel it.
Once the project is approved, the engineer is notified and Lifecycle sends the estimate to the accounting system to create the work order. Work is used to order or reserve materials against the work order by communicating the order to a materials management system or sending the order directly to the warehouse. Work also manages pre-construction activities via Lifecycle Job Requirements, such as receiving materials, obtaining permits and easements, and tracking customer payments.
When the project is ready to be released for construction, it’s made available to field construction personnel via a mobile redlining tool, which has access to the design. Field personnel can use the redlining tool to mark up the design on the map and indicate when a phase of the project is complete or if the entire project is complete. This notifies the owner of the work request in Work and SSP Productivity that the job is complete.
When construction -as-built information is returned from the field, the engineer or other utility operations personnel enter that information into the as bult module of the work request. In Work, these users are reconciling the materials from the original design that were installed or retired, so they can be communicated to materials management and the accounting system of choice to be properly unitized. When existing or new materials are recorded as-built in Work they can be established as ‘assets’ to be managed by SSP Lifecycle Assets by entering a unique identifier – commonly called an asset or facility ID. As the as built information is saved into SSP Lifecycle, it also makes the work request available in SSP Productivity. When a capital construction project work request is opened in Productivity, the design is commissioned (imported) into the company GIS and directly updates the Utility Network. As-Built redlines are used to correct the commissioned features via the editing tools in SSP Productivity. The result updates the status of the work request in Work and sends a notification back to the engineer to QA/QC the GIS update prior to posting it to the published GIS.
After the as-builts are complete, new assets are established and existing assets are updated in SSP Lifecycle Assets. Inspection work orders can be initiated for these assets as necessary and a record of the work is stored within SSP Lifecycle making it directly accessible within the GIS, so that all work performed on a given asset is accessible directly from the map. Assets can be associated to other assets to form a parent/child relationship and subsequent management activities.
As assets are updated in GIS or Lifecycle Assets, those edits are automatically kept in synch between the two systems.
Core GIS Data Management.
SSP Productivity is targeted primarily for those who maintain the core back-office GIS. GIS editors have a Work for Productivity project panel in ArcGIS Pro displaying all their current GIS map correction project as stored in Lifecycle. Editors can open an existing project directly from Productivity or create a new map correction project directly in ArcGIS Pro. When new map correction projects are created, Work for Productivity creates a job within SSP Lifecycle, and associates a new edit version and an ArcGIS Pro project to the job. Productivity’s editing tools assist in establishing integrity within the Utility Network and utility GIS in an efficient manner. Productivity keeps track of edited features also deemed to be ‘assets’ (those also tracked in SSP Lifecycle Assets) with a related job ID to maintain historical tracking for each asset. The GIS editor can then submit the job for QA/QC approval, which then allows the user to reassign the edit job to a new GIS approver, such as a supervisor or posting ‘gatekeeper.’ Once the editing project is approved, it can be submitted to the posting queue to be published by SSP Delta.
Service Orders and Operations and Maintenance.
It’s likely that many of these orders are initiated today from CIS or initiated by the results of your asset management lifecycle, such as asset inspections, and not necessarily initiated by the GIS department. Many of these jobs do not require a graphic design but may still necessitate an update to the GIS. When manged by Work, Lifecycle’s powerful integration framework accepts these types of requests so they can be created and queued up for GIS editors when necessary. And because SSP Productivity is deeply integrated with Lifecycle (in the Work for Productivity module), your editors won’t have to leave the cozy confines of ArcGIS Pro to do perform their work and communicate its status. As updates to your assets occur within the GIS, these work orders are also associated to your assets in SSP Lifecycle Assets. It should also be noted that alternatively, these jobs may be initiated directly in SSP Productivity. In this case, Work will still track the updates as they occur allowing Lifecycle to associate the work with your assets in GIS and to notify other systems of the work such as accounting and/or keeping OMS up to date.
Summary. These are exciting times because never have we been closer to enabling a deep and comprehensive utility work and asset approach to managing the GIS. Each of the solutions collectively work toward your goals of maintaining a healthy asset ecosystem that is spatially enabled on the most powerful utility network and GIS platform.