City of Loveland

Project Completed

INDUSTRY: Electric Water and Wastewater

Utility Needs Assessment: Optimizing Cityworks at Loveland Water & Power

SSP Innovations is pleased to collaborate with Sterling Overturf on this Energy Advisor post.  Sterling has been a member of the Utility Application Services team at the City of Loveland’s Water & Power utility since 2018. His duties include administrating and supporting various enterprise applications in use at the utility including work order management, information systems and report development. Sterling is currently managing two new software implementations involving departmental workflow management and advanced metering infrastructure at the utility. His background is in geographic information systems (GIS), which has provided him opportunities in the utility, pipeline, software and engineering industries.

1. Project Overview

Loveland Water and Power in Loveland, Colorado has been an active Cityworks user for many years.  Earlier this year, they collaborated with SSP Innovations to assess their current usage of the Cityworks application and its role in larger, utility business processes in the context of 4 key goals:

  • To assemble a comprehensive set of maintenance and asset management requirements
  • To develop a phased implementation approach to configure Cityworks to meet the defined set of maintenance and asset management requirements
  • To assess internal business processes and data usage in the office setting
  • To provide recommendations for possible integrations to increase workflow efficiency

SSP Innovations worked collaboratively with the key business groups within the utility whose work depends on the Cityworks application to gather requirements and workflows encompassing how existing users worked in the application.  These conversations also identified areas for improvement in configuration or by deploying new capabilities.  Possible integrations points to other critical business systems to improve data transfers or make processes more efficient were also discussed.  The outcome of the workshops was a recommendations document highlighting both near term and long-term improvements that SSP recommended should be made at the utility.

2. Organizational Drivers for the Project

The City of Loveland, Colorado has used Cityworks as a work order management system across all city departments for more than 10 years. With over 120 users citywide and over 7,000 Work Orders generated annually, Cityworks is a critical part of day-to-day operations. At the City’s utility, Loveland Water & Power (LWP), the use of Cityworks has primarily been to track maintenance needs and manage the work details associated with those services. LWP historically has relied heavily on paper forms with handwritten details to track various types of requests for services. The implementation of Cityworks originally allowed for a single digital storage location to save these details into, mainly through the development of strategic Work Order Templates. When forms documenting various work, activities were returned from the field, support staff transferred the handwritten details into Work Orders, mostly for documentation purposes. Day to day activities continued in this manner, with work activities passed along in paper form and limited reporting capabilities to extract and consolidate the newly entered data. Because lifecycle gaps such as those existed within numerous processes, the City recognized that a strategy to optimize the use of the Cityworks application was due. Loveland contracted with SSP Innovations to undertake this effort of optimizing Cityworks with the intention of identifying process or functionality gaps and developing recommended solutions to these gaps. With new staff on board to support and implement the findings, the timing was right to conduct the project.

3. SSP Innovations Requirements Gathering and Recommendations

Understanding the challenges from their existing implementation along with the utilities goals for the future, LWP partnered with SSP Innovations to evaluate their current workflows and business processes as they related to the utility’s Cityworks implementation. The key component of this process was workshops and detailed discussions with a number of user groups throughout the utility including:

  • Electric Design, Engineering & Operations
  • Water/Wastewater Engineering & Operations
  • Customer Relations & Customer Service
  • Water Metering
  • Water Quality Lab & Water Treatment
  • Water & Power Leadership
  • Water/Wastewater Treatment Plants
  • Accounting
  • Field Crews & Locators
  • Dispatch

These interviews and workshops involved in-depth conversations around utility business processes, data inputs and outputs to these processes, along with when and how Cityworks functionality fits into each process.  The core functionality of the Cityworks application was also reviewed, with the intent of documenting any gaps or future enhancements identified by Water & Power staff.  As a result of these conversations, SSP Innovations provided a detailed recommendations document which recorded a consolidated set of improvements to processes and systems, based on the combined feedback from each user group. Below are some examples:

  • A formalized Asset Management Strategy
  • Comprehensive GIS and Cityworks Training
  • Expansion of Cityworks Mobile usage within the organization
  • Cityworks Inbox standardization throughout the organization
  • Expanding the GIS data model to more accurately support treatment plant assets
  • Deployment of integrations between Cityworks and other critical business systems

The comprehensive recommendations document for Loveland Water & Power outlined both short term and long-term improvements to support future user needs at the utility, along with considerations for mobile technology usage.  Recommendations were also broken out by utility functional group, so that readers could easily identify specific recommendations relevant to their department.

4. Loveland Water& Power Implements Recommendations

Groups of staff representing a comprehensive list of Cityworks users were assembled by department and their involvement in the facilitated workshops turned out to be extremely beneficial. Each meeting provided an open door to learn with other employees about business processes and how the Cityworks application was being used throughout the utility.  These workshops provided a valuable perspective into how each department used the Work Order system and what business processes they relied on Cityworks to assist them with. Far more business processes exist than one could ever discover without conversations like these to enable that dialog. Once compiled, common themes emerged across the different groups. An added bonus was that when individual groups met collectively to provide feedback, this started a lot of dialog about how Cityworks could best be used or if it was even the right tool to solve a particular problem.

At the end of the project, SSP provided a detailed document, covering all the initial workshop’s findings. The layout of the report was thoughtful and easy to understand. Findings were categorized as they related to the entire Utility or to various Departments. The conclusions detailed in the report summary were easy to understand and listed items that would bring direct improvements or benefits to each group interviewed. Larger, long-term items are allowing us to bench mark our progress through the recommendations and have something to work towards.

Recommendations emerging from the project covered new software configurations, expanded functionality through software product recommendations and integrations to other business systems to improve workflows and data integrity. Of the findings recommended from the project, several have been fully implemented at W&P while others are actively in progress. Several smaller scale recommendations identified from the multitude of feedback have been implemented at the utility. Simple configuration items such as standardized inboxes for different groups provided users consistent ways to view information and has simplified new employee onboarding. Incorporating common inspections performed at the utility into Cityworks Inspection Templates with reoccurring Work Orders have further enhanced the use and usability of the Cityworks platform. Larger, program-based items such as water valve exercising or fire hydrant flushing programs were also recommended and have since been put into operation since they are great opportunities to leverage Cityworks functionality and its GIS asset integration capabilities.

A Standardized Cityworks Inbox for LWP Administrators

Several of the utility-wide recommendations were large in scope and have required further discussion prior to a program being developed to begin their implementation. Examples of these included:

  • Risk Based Asset Management – Using Cityworks and GIS to store detailed and accurate asset condition data to use in a risk-based asset management program. This recommendation highlighted the potential for Cityworks Operational insights to be leveraged. However, storing probabilities and consequences of failure values on individual assets will be a time-consuming project, but could very well benefit from the implementation of an asset condition inspection developed in Cityworks.
  • Expanded Training and User Outreach – There were several comments around business analysis opportunities that employees believed could potentially be solved by using the Cityworks system, if only they were more familiar with the application. Feedback like this prompted a recommendation for more in-depth education and training sessions (i.e: a ‘brown bag’) to be formalized into regular events by the application services team.
  • Cityworks Mobile – The Cityworks Mobile application was being piloted with Power Operations during a portion of the project. During each workshop, attendees received overviews of the Mobile solution’s capabilities and how they could interact with the system using the mobile app. Whether it was viewing and editing Work Orders, adding Inspection findings or just viewing GIS information on a web map, the Cityworks mobile application provided capabilities desired by many groups within the utility. That pilot has since transitioned into a licensed deployment of Cityworks Mobile and various operation crews throughout the organization continue to be trained on the system. The mobile app is now being leveraged for multiple inspection types including substations, switchgear, transformers and regulators in the Power Division and for inspections of backflow devices, storage tanks, and pressure reducing valves (PRV) in the Water Division. A future project for wooden pole inspections as well as an evening streetlight patrol inspection are currently being planned for development in Cityworks.
State Regulations on Water Storage Tanks Inspections provided guidance for an Inspection Template

The city has found that on-call Duty crews are the perfect use case for the mobile app. These crews operate day and night and are often charged with servicing a variety of issues they find or are reported from citizens. The use of Mobile has allowed them to document Work Orders needed right from their work truck, but also to receive new requests on the fly during the day without having to return to the Service Center for an updated list of items needing attention. They are able to document the ELM information and complete Work Order tasks directly on site. The ability to take pictures and seamlessly attach them to the Work Order has also been a highlight of Mobile. Even something as simple as displaying the location of a Work Order on the Mobile web map has facilitated efficiencies in routing their daily activities that did not exist prior.

The Map in Cityworks Mobile displays Work Order locations
  • Deploying a Reporting Portal – Another utility-wide recommendation was the need for a reporting portal with custom reports tailored to each business unit’s needs. Many times a group expressed they knew lots of great details were being entered into the system, but a need to get consolidated information back out was lacking. The City had at its disposal a reporting server as part of its SQL Enterprise – SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). Since Cityworks data is managed through a relational database, an SSRS reporting solution seemed like a viable option for extracting the details each group expressed needing. Since the project findings were posted, several SSRS reports have since been developed and it seems the sky is the limit to what can be reported on. Whether its day-to-day labor reporting, time-sensitive warranty inspections, summarized monthly reports on efficiency program activities or simple metrics on levels of service to showcase to the community, the reporting opportunities between Cityworks data and SSRS reporting capabilities seem to be endless and all at the touch of an internet connected finger. One customization opportunity that was identified was the automated generation of an electric design ‘Face Sheet’. These reports detail the material requirements for an electrical construction work order. Previously, design engineers built these by hand when drafting electric projects to be constructed. Now with the reporting capabilities of SSRS being leveraged regularly, LWP was able to design an automated report to directly retrieve the materials, unit counts and costs associated with those designs and export it to a tabular format for use by project managers.
SQL Server Reporting Services is used to report summarized details from Cityworks activities
  • Integrations to other business systems – Several larger integration projects were also identified. LWP has several robust software packages that act as a system of record to support electric design, outage management, finance, inventory, CIS and time keeping, but not many of these business systems are integrated fully to improve workflow lifecycles and data accuracy. Each of these systems had at least one major touchpoint with Cityworks that would improve in these areas. The utility is currently implementing one of the recommended integrations that will automate the full lifecycle of work and asset management within the utility for Electric Capital Projects and provide system of record values incorporated in the process for equipment, labor and material (ELM) reporting.

5. Conclusion/Next Steps

Going forward, Loveland Water & Power will continue to implement recommendations from the SSP Innovations project findings. An effort to begin closing gaps in Cityworks usage at the two municipal treatment plants is underway as well. After evaluating various GIS data model options to document building and plant process assets, the use of related tabular objects is being piloted in GIS and Cityworks for capturing maintenance on assets never before stored in the GIS. Closing the gaps on maintenance tracking at the treatment plants will further assist meeting goals of an asset management program. Lessons learned from this implementation will be applied to lift and pump station assets throughout the City’s collection and distribution systems.

LWP is also working to expand the Mobile application to all field operations crews. A training program that will include regularly scheduled feedback sessions is currently being developed to assist crews with their migration to the mobile solution. Once fully leveraged by field crews, the activities documented in Cityworks should add efficiencies to both back office processes as well as field operations. Labor and equipment reporting in the mobile application should also make automating portions of employee time keeping a possibility. As the technology begins to better support the processes at LWP, new integration opportunities such as these will begin to emerge between systems with the goals of creating operational efficiencies, enhanced reporting and improved asset lifecycle management at LWP.