Yarra Valley Water is the largest of Melbourne’s three water corporations, based in Melbourne’s east. They manage over $4 billion worth of infrastructure and assets and employ nearly 600 people. Every day, more than 1.9 million people and 50,000 businesses, rely on their water and sanitation services.
Yarra Valley Water’s large mobile workforce needed a mobile safety solution that staff could use out in the field to conduct timely, reliable and accurate safety audits and incident reports. They also needed access to up-to-date safety information and alerts to make quick decisions on the job.
Engage Squared used PowerApps to create and roll out a pilot app in two weeks. The success of the pilot led to the creation of a full solution, now featuring daily automation of safety tasks and the management and archiving of reports–all powered with SharePoint Online, Microsoft Flow and PowerApps.
Yarra Valley Water’s mobile workforce didn’t have the modern tools they needed to complete important safety activities onsite—they relied on paper forms and emailing or calling the head office. Paper binders filled with important safety procedures kept staff informed about the correct way to complete a safety activity, but the time it took to distribute and update documentation made it difficult to maintain safety compliance.
While Microsoft 365 was already being used for team collaboration with tools such as SharePoint Online and Skype for Business, existing business applications remained in on-premises environments such as SharePoint 2013. InfoPath forms were used to complete reports in the office and stored in SharePoint 2013 lists, however the gap in time between the incident and completing the InfoPath form report could be quite long.
The existing tools and processes led to human errors, double-handling of data, and wasted time. Fatigue assessments filled out on paper resulted in a poor experience for staff members, as well as inconsistent reporting for incidents and hazards from the field. It was also a challenge to quickly communicate important safety alerts to their workforce, as emails could be missed in staff inboxes.
These challenges created an opportunity for Yarra Valley Water to review and simplify existing safety processes. They knew they needed a platform to enable rapid mobile development and distribution to their workforce – not only for safety scenarios, but for other business cases. What they didn’t know is which platform would best support this. Prior to contacting Engage Squared, Yarra Valley Water had spent a year and a half scoping solutions but had yet to settle on a plan forward.
Yarra Valley Water sought to achieve two main objectives:
- Determine which platform would enable them to rapidly develop mobile solutions they could easily distribute to their workforce.
- Create a mobile safety app that provided a quality end-user experience, kept their workforce informed daily and provided reports over time
Engage Squared worked with Yarra Valley Water to conduct workshops introducing staff to the capabilities of PowerApps–from user interface design, reading and writing to data storage locations, to the lifecycle management of applications. Three safety activities were chosen to build into a pilot app: pre-work safety checks, access to safety procedure documentation and access to important safety alerts.
In two weeks the app was created, tested, and rolled-out to a pilot group. The positive feedback from the pilot group gave Yarra Valley Water the confidence PowerApps was the right platform for their needs, as they could quickly test and validate their requirements. Creation of the full solution commenced.
The PowerApp provides real-time alerts, automated fatigue assessment scoring that results in mandatory follow-up actions, hazard and incident reporting, an in-app safe work procedures library and a pre-work safety audit with dynamic instructions. Staff can use their phone to take photos as they fill out reports without having to write separate emails and hunt for attachments, while their GPS logs the location of any issues. This means the main office can instantly see the photos and where they were taken, without needing to send someone out to review the details later.
Microsoft Flow connects to activities within SharePoint. When a new safety report, hazard, or incident is created, Flow checks a SharePoint list and then sends an email to notify the correct team to act on the submission. If any photos were taken, they’re automatically attached to the email to ensure the team can see the information as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, all the data is stored in SharePoint Online lists, enabling the safety team to create reports in Excel and Power BI. The in-app safety alerts are easily created by the safety team in a list, reducing the time needed to push out a time-sensitive message and providing a consistent user interface in the app for users. This means the safety team can be anywhere while creating and analyse the data, without needing to use virtual desktops to access their on-premise SharePoint 2013 environment
The end result is a production mobile safety app that dramatically improves safety processes and compliance, as well as a strategic platform to deliver future business application solutions.
With the new app, safety procedures are completed faster and more consistently, compliance overhead is drastically reduced, the organization has gained improved compliance and safety index reporting, more consistent safety data, and deeper analytics around their safety procedures.