Municipal Services Divisions in Utah Capitol Get More than Anticipated from Mobile Business Solution
Field Force Manager helps Salt Lake City building and civil enforcement inspectors do ‘more work, more quickly’
Salt Lake City’s building services and civil enforcement divisions implemented a mobile business solution three years ago to help managers determine the locations of inspectors working in the field. But since then, the solution has grown into a valuable management tool for both divisions that helps improve employee efficiency and service to citizens.
The solution, Field Force Manager, is a mobile app that consists of a downloadable mobile phone app for near-real-time data collection and a secure, cloud-based web management application for monitoring and reporting. Loaded onto each inspector’s Motorola mobile phone, the Field Force Manager mobile app automatically collects location data and transmits it to the Field Force Manager web management application where managers can access it through any computer or device with a browser. Not only can managers see where inspectors are in near real time, they can produce reports showing where each inspector has stopped, for how long, at what time, and on which date.
The decision to purchase Field Force Manager was made by Orion Goff, Director of Building Services and Zoning Enforcement, who oversees both Building Services and Civil Enforcement; Craig Weinheimer, a Legal Investigator working for Goff; and Craig Spangenberg and Les Koch and, Managers of Civil Enforcement and Construction Inspection, respectively.
In the beginning, all four agreed that knowing the locations of inspectors working in the field was valuable information as a management tool. Weinheimer also was drawn to Field Force Manager because it is a cloud-based solution. “I liked that we could use Field Force Manager from the web, on any computer,” he says.
As for the team’s key requirement, Spangenberg says his primary interest in knowing the locations of his Civil Enforcement inspectors was to remind them to “stay focused on the task.”
Over in Construction Inspection, however, inspectors didn’t need prodding to keep their schedules full, says Koch. The group typically logs “100 or more stops” in any given day and instead, the problem was finding them quickly so they could be deployed to late-breaking assignments.
Before implementing Field Force Manager, to locate the building inspectors working for him, Koch would have to call their mobile phones. Most often, he would end up leaving a voicemail. “They might be in the middle of an inspection and unable to return my call for 10, 15 or even 20 minutes,” he says.
This was too long to wait to get an answer to whether a particular inspector was available and close enough to a location to make it practical for him to get there in a timely way. So Koch started using the Google Map feature in the Field Force Manager web management application, which allowed him to see in near real time exactly where inspectors are. Over time, Koch says he began to rely on the map to deploy inspectors to new assignments in ways that ended up reducing travel time and minimizing mileage.
Field Force Manager’s map capability has also proven especially valuable to Koch when a fire or building accident occurs. In those situations – “when minutes count” – Koch uses the Map to locate an inspector and re-direct him to the scene of an emergency as quickly as possible. He credits Field Force Manager with his division’s ability to dramatically accelerate response times.
In addition to locating and redeploying inspectors on the fly, the team also has evolved into using the Field Force Manager web management application’s historical reporting feature in new ways. Originally, Field Force Manager was to be used for internal accountability. Now, however, it also is used to get to the bottom of specific complaints from citizens.
According to Koch, sometimes people complain that an inspector failed to show up for an appointment. With Field Force Manager, this type of accusation can be “proved or disproved with 100% accuracy.” More often than not, says Koch, “We find out that a homeowner or contractor stepped away from the property and missed the building inspector, who’d been there and then had to go on to his next stop.”
Director Goff also has found historical reports are valuable because they allow him to demonstrate to the Salt Lake City Council – whose members authorize his annual budget – that employees are doing “more work, more quickly.”
Goff says, “When the Council has confidence in us and we are accountable to constituents on their behalf, it adds to our professionalism. Field Force Manager is quite well worth the price. We see it as a valuable management tool now and in the future.”
““Field Force Manager is quite well worth the price.”
Orion Goff, Director, Salt Lake City Building and Zoning Enforcement