PWR provide a complete emergency response service to the mining and construction industry. They work at the busiest mining sites in Western Australia and are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all equipment, vehicles and personnel. They follow stringent legislative and regulatory requirements.
PWR contacted iSupport with a clear brief: We need to complete our Excel spreadsheets on portable devices. These spreadsheet are complex, they contain macros (a series of commands that can be run whenever you need to perform a certain task) and the collected data needs to be collated centrally on our server. We need to minimise loss of data and inaccuracies.
This brief was very revealing of a company steeped in traditional processes, PWR were quite rightly protective over their workflows and aware of the time which they had invested into setting up dozens of fairly complex Excel spreadsheets. But if working in education has taught me one thing, it’s that people can become overly dependant on established methods and ageing technologies.
As hardware and cloud solutions evolve, it is vital that big business keep abreast of modern tools, and move quickly to capitalise, resulting in an extremely efficient workforce; who are working smarter, not harder.
PWR had already trialled a number of tablet devices, and it appeared that the iPad was the last to be tested. The office spaces were filled with Microsoft desktops and laptops, but curiously enough iPhones were popular around the meeting table.
The initial benefits of the iPad were durability and portability of the device. The iPad was also simple to use and quick to master as many staff already had experience of using iOS with their iPhones. The iPad was very simple to manage remotely with the option of remote wipe and other security features. Other benefits include the long battery life and overall stability of the operating system, meaning that crashes and freezes are very few and far between.
Initial concerns were the integration with legacy components, which were infused in a Microsoft Office environment. These concerns were quick to be eliminated through demonstration, and in time it became clear that as the company evolved, dependancy on these tools became less and less.
As a result interfaces became more user friendly. Excel documents could still make up the foundation of company records, but the way staff interacted with the data changed drastically. By using carefully developed forms, all data could be collected on-site by a technician. The fields set up smartly, eliminating any margin for error and reducing the time invested in the activity. We could even collect signatures, voice memos and annotated photographs.
The data could be collected off-line and submitted once a network connection was made. But most importantly, the company saw the benefits of not having to handle the data 2 or 3 times. Right from submission on-site, all concerned were emailed and the admin spreadsheets were being populated. Meaning admin staff in head office could send reports to the correct client periodically and raise prompt and accurate invoices.
I presented a solution which closely followed the 9 Key Considerations plan promoted by APD specialists.
- We established meetings with all field technicians ensuring that their concerns were addressed and that suitable professional development was provided.
- We assessed costing for the iPads and established deployment strategies.
- We looked closely at the benefits of utilising iCloud accounts, this meant that all iPads could be located with GPS from head office, providing increased accountability.
- We assessed server and cloud storage options, and reviewed workflows.
- We assessed many apps and settled on a few which resulted in accurate collection and submission of data.
- We reviewed practices and tweaked workflows.
A transformation in business, resulting in higher efficiency and accuracy
I was very impressed at PWR’s receptiveness to change. The solutions were trialled in a responsible manner and some were rejected. But overall the process which we went through illustrated perfectly the top tiers of the SAMR ladder, resulting in a redefinition of practice at PWR.