September 15, 2022

FAQs: The Potential and Power of Work Items 

Data drives value. The more processes you have digitized – the more data you have easily accessible to enhance your damage prevention and risk management programs. If all your data is still in paper format, extracting its value is a manual process – and much more difficult. We chatted with Shane Mattix, Irth Solutions’ technical sales leader, about how industry leaders use work items to digitize their field processes and how powerful this can be for their damage prevention and risk management efforts.

What’s the power of work items?

Work items do for field processes what SurveyMonkey, the online survey platform with 30 million users worldwide, did for surveys. Before SurveyMonkey, if you wanted to create a survey with the bells and whistles that are possible on its platform today, a software engineer would need to be involved in coding it in HTML and designing, organizing and deploying it. SurveyMonkey’s platform makes that a simple process that doesn’t require special skills like knowing HTML.

Our App Designer serves a similar role to the SurveyMonkey platform because it allows anyone without technical expertise to create a work item to digitize a field process. Our customers create work items for a variety of use cases, including inspections, damage investigations, patrols, audits, crossings and more.

Using the App Designer, our customers can digitize any process that is currently on paper or migrate away from a legacy system. In addition, it uses business logic to automatically communicate and send data to the right people for each action.

How does the App Designer eliminate manual processes?

Our customers who use the App Designer to create work items digitize field processes. The more work items they create and use, the fewer manual processes there are. More importantly, it’s easier for that data to be shared across multiple systems to leverage automated workflows. The combination of work items + business intelligence + automation makes work items so powerful when you digitize your processes. Not only do you have the data collected and centralized into one system, but UtiliSphere™ can automate the next best action.

What are the limits to what types of work items businesses can create?

While templates are available to get you up and running fast with work items, they can be configured for each business’ needs. For example, our customers often use different vernaculars to describe similar processes such as watch and protect or monitoring, and our App Designer offers the flexibility to name the work items in a way that makes sense for your organization, add or eliminate fields, and more.

If no template is created yet, you can build your own work item. Either way, it’s a streamlined way to digitize your field processes.

What is an example of a work item?

Let’s talk about a monitoring work item.

An important part of damage prevention efforts is monitoring excavators while on the job to verify they follow safe excavation practices to prevent damage and protect assets. Some of our customers refer to monitoring visits as watch and protect, standby site visits, watch dog or meet, but it’s all the same process and you can digitize it into a work item.

A work item helps companies with critical network infrastructure track how many times excavators have been monitored. This data trail translates into risk management. For example, if an excavator digs 150 times around monitored assets and half of those times expose the pipelines, a conclusion can be made that they are reckless and therefore more likely to cause damage.

Since there are no safe excavator tests like driving tests, observing their excavation is the only way to confirm if an excavator uses safe practices. The monitoring work item gives our customers an excavator quality index.

Another work item with a similar objective is the locate audit. The locate audit app tracks the performance of the locator, including how many damages they are responsible for and to understand best locate practices at each facility. A locate audit work item helps inform a locator quality index in the same way monitoring informs an excavator quality index.

Is there a work item for after a damage?

Unfortunately, not all damages can be prevented and that’s why there is a damage investigation work item. When an asset is damaged, the damage investigation work item allows our customers to collect data about the incident, document the at-fault party and collect reimbursement for the damages.

What are some of the most popular work items customers use today?

We currently have more than 300 work items in use today. Our customers can create work items for any use case, but these are the most prevalent areas supported today:

  • Inspections
  • Damages
  • Field Meets
  • Patrols
  • Audits
  • Risk
  • Crossings
  • Ticket Management
Is it possible to create a work item for pigging?

Absolutely! There are already customers using pigging work items today; it’s just not one of our more well-known work items. If you have any questions at all, please contact us to learn more about our App Designer and work items, and get your questions answered.

Irth's market-leading SaaS platform improves resilience and reduces risk in the sustainable delivery of essential services that millions of people and businesses rely on every day. Energy, utility, and telecom companies across the U.S. and Canada trust Irth for damage prevention, training, asset inspections, and land management solutions. Powered by business intelligence, analytics, and geospatial data, our platform helps deliver the 360-degree situational awareness needed to proactively mitigate and manage risk of critical network infrastructure in a changing environment. Irth has been the top provider for 811 (one call) ticket management and utility locating software since 1995.

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