For Metropolitan Utilities District, nothing is more important than the safe and reliable delivery of gas and water. Service excellence has been the company’s focus for more than 100 years, and it continues to look for innovative ways to improve cost-efficiency and provide the best value to customers across Omaha, Nebraska, and its surrounding communities.
Ron Schell, director of enterprise applications at Metropolitan Utilities District, said, “As a utility, we need to specialize in many different domains, including finance, construction and engineering. Our deep institutional knowledge is crucial to keep the water running and gas flowing. So, we must provide our field service personnel with rapid access to schematics and plans to ensure safe and uninterrupted operation of our gas and water networks.”
To accelerate its response to emergency repair calls for pumps, valves and other assets, Metropolitan Utilities District aimed to find a faster and more effective way to provide field teams and back-office personnel with access to records—from 100-year-old paper documents to data from its mission-critical SAP business systems.
“The faster we can carry out repairs, the more we can reduce the waste of important resources such as water,” said Schell. “Sustainability and efficiency are both important strategic objectives for Metropolitan Utilities District, and we knew that improving information-sharing could help us further those goals.”
By working with OpenText, we can make better decisions, backed by data, helping us to deliver excellent services to all our stakeholders.
With Extended ECM for SAP Solutions, Metropolitan Utilities District gains document archiving and management, imaging, collaboration and records management capabilities from a single point of control. Tightly integrated with the company’s SAP business systems, the solution connects to operational data from the company’s geographic information system (GIS), ArcGIS.“One of the main reasons we chose OpenText was its ability to integrate with our core systems,” explained Schell. “We can now effectively manage information from the three most important platforms for our business: our OpenText content management solution, our SAP ERP applications and ArcGIS.”
As a first step, Metropolitan Utilities District worked with a scanning partner to digitize almost one million records, including engineering design documents and gas and water service cards. Today, each record is stored in the OpenText solution, and linked to geographic data in ArcGIS.Schell recalled, “We scanned some documents that were so old that they were barely legible. After carefully scanning these and modern paper records, we now have maintenance histories for some assets that reach all the way back to the 1920s—a rich source of insight for our field teams.”
Metropolitan Utilities District now provides field teams with tablets running ArcGIS software. Employees can tap on assets, such as gas valves or water hydrants, and immediately see all the information the company has on that asset via the OpenText solution.
“All important information concerning our day-to-day network operations and maintenance is available 24/7,” said Schell. “Thanks to OpenText Extended ECM for SAP Solutions, our engineers can look up anything they need quickly, wherever they are.”
Thanks to OpenText Extended ECM for SAP Solutions, our engineers can look up anything they need quickly, wherever they are.
Thanks to the OpenText solutions, employees at Metropolitan Utilities District can now make faster, better-informed decisions.
“Helping our engineers to accurately locate assets is really important, especially when assets are obscured by snow or the ground is frozen,” said Schell. “Today, our teams get exact GPS coordinates to help them find the components they need to work on with pinpoint precision.”
Field service personnel can access technical drawings remotely using their tablets or smartphones, saving a significant amount of time.
“In the past, engineers in the field would call one of our offices, where a member of the back-office team would track down the schematic and go back and forth with the engineer on the phone to help them locate the asset and get an overview of its maintenance history. These conversations would often take an hour, but now, all that information is available at the touch of a screen.”
By eliminating the need to store large amounts of paper records, Metropolitan Utilities District reduces the operational costs associated with maintaining a physical document archive and reclaims significant office floorspace.
“Since decommissioning our paper archives, we are saving a total of $300,000 a year,” said Schell. “Moreover, space that used to be occupied by files can now be used more productively as workspace for our employees.”
Metropolitan Utilities District regularly meets with OpenText to discuss opportunities to further improve its processes. For example, the company plans to harness data from its ECM, GIS and ERP solutions to enable seamless digital workflows for finance processes.
“Every time we perform work in the field, back-office teams such as finance and supply chain need to understand what was done—for example, which products we used in a repair, how much time was spent on the work and who we charged,” Schell commented. “In the future, we plan to build workflows to allow this data to flow more quickly and smoothly across the business.”
He added, “We are also excited to work with OpenText to enhance our customer-facing services. We’re currently exploring ways we can deliver more personalized and relevant communications to our 225,000 customer accounts based on data from SAP ERP.”
By building on its partnership with OpenText, Metropolitan Utilities District is in a strong position to drive continuous improvements to its services.
“Our mission statement begins with the words ‘safe and reliable’, and the unifying concept behind those words is trust,” concluded Schell. “To me, trust implies safe, reliable and cost-effective services. By working with OpenText, we can make better decisions, backed by data, helping us to deliver excellent services to all our stakeholders.”