INSET: Map feature of 311 system shows work orders that the Town of Troutman has received.
311 system helps town personnel track projects, improve efficiency
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman residents are increasingly utilizing the town’s new work order system to report problems and issues that need town staff's attention.
Residents can file work orders addressing all kinds of issues, including potholes, damaged street signs, streetlight problems, parking violations, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, traffic signal problems, sidewalk issues, overgrown lots, or code violations through the town’s website at https://troutman.mobile311.com/#/splash?returnUrl=...
The problem can be reported anonymously, but if no name and email are given, the town cannot follow up with a report when the situation has been addressed.
The work order system quickly alerts appropriate town employees about problems and allows them to prioritize them by seriousness as well as proximity to staff already working in the area to maximize efficiency.
The town spent $2,835 for the first five months of the service and one-time initial set up costs from February 1 through June 30. For the current fiscal year, the council allocated $3,780 to pay for the service.
Public Works Director Adam Lippard is a big fan of the new online reporting system.
“When it comes to operating the Public Works Division for the Town of Troutman, there are a lot of responsibilities that have been made easier by the implementation of the new work order system,” he said.
Lippard sees increased efficiency using the 311 work order system, which then leads to greater management effectiveness, cost savings and resource availability.
“The former way of creating, receiving and tracking tasks through simple emails was inefficient and unorganized. The new work order system has streamlined daily tasks for both scheduled and new requests,” continued Lippard.
One of the ways this system has benefited the Public Works Department includes improving operational effectiveness. “The work order system allows tracking of needed preventative maintenance for infrastructure systems in the field, which in turn ensures pieces of systems' equipment are working better and delivering good results longer,” said Lippard.
The 311 system also has the ability to track maintenance work processes, such as compliance data, schedules and monitoring.
Distribution of assignments to employees is also simplified. With the work order system, Lippard assigns various tasks embedded with clear instructions. Employees can access their assignments at any time through a mobile device, which in turn has increased communication effectiveness.
Town Manager Justin Longino said it’s hard to prove tangibly how the 311 system has helped the town staff accomplish more than last year since they didn’t count the emails sent last year regarding work orders. “But I can confidently say that the overall feeling of being more efficient and productive has increased with all the staff that use it,” he said.
The Public Works employees have an assignment list sent directly to them, which they then accomplish.
“This, of course, cuts down on any time previously spent delegating work. The two women in the front office have enjoyed it from a ‘status update’ perspective since it allows them to see what progress has been made on a particular work order and also to see if something being reported to them has already been submitted,” Longino explained.
From March 16 through July 11, non-Public Works town staff reported 421 issues in the 311 system. Some were reported by citizens while others were seen by staff inspecting the park and greenway areas or when traveling through the town.
The police department reported 23 issues they noted during patrols, while 33 citizens reported problems from April through July 11.
Of the 685 reports in the first five months of using the 311 system by all users, only 30 are not complete or in progress.
“We have several items that have been ‘open’ for an extended period. Most of those are projects that were waiting for the new budget year to take effect,” explained Longino.
The system has many capabilities that Longino and staff want to take advantage of.
“We have a training scheduled as a Q&A and a ‘refresher’ course later this month. I hope to have a specialist on the phone that can answer any questions about any difficulties that users might be having,” the town manager said.
“I also hope to have our new code enforcement officer and new public works employee involved in that meeting as well. We’re trying to make sure that everyone has a good handle on it and no one gets left behind,” he added.
Longino also meets with an account review specialist with provider Dude Solutions at least once a year (or as needed) to review the account usage and discus how the town can better utilize the system in the future.