While many LGA’s extoll the virtues of community involvement and the need to ensure that LGA revenues are spent within the boundaries of the LGA, the procurement processes they are bound to follow typically lead to outcomes that are as far from those ideals as its possible to get. The problem is that in the pursuit of better pricing, contract terms tend to be longer (to allow for the depreciation of expensive plant), works packages tend to be bundled and as a result, few “local” providers have the scale necessary to bid successfully for the contracts individually or the management capability to be able to form a cooperative capable of presenting a cohesive bid. That leaves multinationals and a small number of large national operators left to bid. While this approach may work in supressing costs (although we aren’t convinced) it can lead to poor performance, where a long-term contractor only focuses on performance when contracts are coming up for renewal.
It can also lead to Data-loss, where contractors are using their own solutions for servicing assets and are more focused on the scheduling or works than they are on the collection of data on the assets. This typically leads to poor or outdated data on assets being held by the LGA themselves, especially when an incumbent provider is changed and data handover is poorly managed. On the LGA-side there is also typically a history of multiple, ageing applications being used to manage and store asset and geospatial information. This combination typically makes it hard to have any real-time, reliable information into the state of the civic asset pool and the level of servicing it is receiving, except through the application of significant effort to extract, cleanse and combine data from different sources in order to report.
Because of the number and variety of assets under management in a contract, the different services that need to be carried out on each asset type and the skills and plant required to carry out these services, it is unsurprising that people have, in the past, taken a very broad approach in scheduling works. Rather than focusing on outcomes, taking into account seasonal differences, usage frequency and environmental factors, something which would be beyond a human beings’ capabilities to keep on-top of, simple scheduling has been used to deal with the complexity. A typical example of this might be “all bins in the park need to be emptied every day” or “recreation fields need to be mowed once every two weeks”. What, you may ask, is the problem with this? – well it may result in un-necessary servicing (turning up to empty bins that are empty or mow fields that haven’t grown” or inadequate servicing (overflowing bins and grass that is too high to cut without whipper-snipping first) and neither of these scenarios is desirable.
Finally there is another component that can exacerbate the issue with scheduling. When multiple providers, or volunteer groups are working to provide different services to different aspects of the same areas, coordination and communication can be a serious problem. Turning up to mow a recreation field, only to find that the car-park and only access point is being re-surfaced just results in a lost trip, delay in servicing and frustration that could have been avoided.
Reporting from multiple service providers typically also results in information being delivered to LGA’s in a multitude of formats, with a range of delays that makes it very hard to have a point-in-time view of who is servicing what, and what the status of ongoing works actually is.
A way forward
So how can these issues be addressed. Enter the GODOIT platform using Gruntify that becomes the digital servicing twin for the LGA.
- It acts as a register for all assets in the LGA, integrating with all LGA Asset Management Systems (or acting as one if the LGA doesn’t have one) and registers all potential service providers, along with their staffing, skills and plant.
- The system has template Job definitions for all potential services, specifying equipment, qualifications, pre-start checks & instructions and post-work checks to ensure servicing is carried out consistently, regardless of provider.
- The system is geospatially aware. It not only knows about the assets and their locations, but by using the application, it knows where the service providers and their staff are as well.
- The system uses the combination of scheduled works, requests generated by workers, surveillance officers, reports from the public and council workers to manage prioritised works that need to be carried out.
- The system allows Jobs to be allocated manually to specific Teams.
- The system uses the location, priority and skill/plant requirements of Jobs to filter what service providers and volunteers can see. They can only see a list of the closest located, highest priority Jobs that they are capable of servicing – and each team can only select one of those Jobs to work on.
- The system helps the workers/volunteers navigate to the Job, shows them the history of the asset (all Jobs ever carried out), provides instructions on how to do the Job once on-site, and ensures adequate data is collected at the culmination by the workers/volunteers.
- The system provides Supervisors with a real-time view of new Requests coming in, the progress of Jobs in the field and the location of teams.
- The system presents real-time dashboards monitoring all aspects of servicing.
- The system logs the amount of time each Job takes.
- The system maintains a continuous, incorruptible record of all activities.
- The system has an Open-API for integration and uses OData to allow any reporting solution to report on Data within the system.
- In the near future, the system will take BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) forecasts and present Supervisors with a list of Jobs that may be impacted by weather.
- In the near future, the system will make use of an events calendar, allowing the LGA to register when areas (and therefore the assets within them) are unavailable for servicing – allowing the system to present Supervisors with a list of Jobs that may be affected.
- In the near future, the system will be able to ingest IoT sensor information, triggering reactive Jobs (such as bin-emptying, grass mowing, drain clearing) and providing environmental feedback to limit other jobs (for example when air quality is poor or when assets are in use).
- Where the possibility exists, the system will provide DBYD (Dial Before You Dig) information associated with Jobs requiring excavation.
- In the future, the system will integrate with a number of ERP solutions (Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks) to auto-generate invoices for completed Jobs.
So what does all this functionality mean? and how does it resolve the identified issues?
Simply put, it allows the LGA to operate all services via a marketplace, where the marketplace has the necessary controls and features to let small local providers, volunteer groups and large specialist providers who are on-boarded service the Jobs that need to be done, in the same way, without having to make an investment in their own systems. This keeps the Data in the hands of the LGA, being continuously updated in the same way by all providers – and it allows the LGA to continually assess the performance of all providers, granting or revoking access dependent on their performance….so no long-term tie-ins and no drop-off in performance part way through the contract. Finally, the platform also means that servicing only happens when it needs to happen, and in financially difficult periods, the LGA can prioritise the activities that need to happen for public safety and delay those that don’t – providing a degree of flexibility unavailable under long-term broad service contracts.