There is a wide range of field engineering software packages available for utilities, their vendors and consultants, but they aren't all created equal. Because most utility providers and their clients employee a number of individuals who serve different functions, it can be difficult to coordinate across different platforms effectively. When you're interested in a software solution, it's important to evaluate your company's needs and those of your engineers and other critical employees. Once you've determined what you need, do some research to find out which software companies provide the most reliable and flexible programs.
Key Elements That Make A Great Field Engineering Software Program
1. The Ability To Design And Document In The Field
Working in the field is always a challenge. If you don't truly have mobile capability that allows you to quickly, easily and accurately design, review or change extensions or repairs, you'll quickly realize that you aren't keeping up with repairs, extensions or other activities. Falling behind simply isn't an option in the utilities industry, so be sure your field engineers are using mobile solutions that give them plenty of latitude for work management regardless of their location.
2. Easy Integration With Other Company Platforms
No matter how great your field engineering software is, if it can't be easily integrated into your current system, it's useless. Be sure to talk to a representative about what you need and how well it will work with your current system. The best programs seamlessly tie together data such as utility maps and planning tools,including electronic sketching on specifications and drawings. Ask if the field engineering package can work with your accounting system or any other work-related systems back at the office. Keeping your engineers in the loop greatly enhances productivity.
3. Printable Reports
Whether you're holding a staff meeting, pitching your services to new clients, reviewing your inventory or invoicing clients, you should be able to print customizable reports that utilize the variety of information at your fingertips. Being able to view the "whole picture" instead of just bits and pieces of information will make everyone more efficient, which can improve your bottom line.
4. Systems Engineering And Analysis Capability
It's not enough to be able to see the information that's been input into your system. You have to be able to effectively analyze the information in order to determine the best course of action. Look for programs that let work crews not only view maps and sketches, but retrieve valuable information in order to engineer valid solutions. Systems engineering and analysis is the backbone of good field work, so be sure it is supported properly. The right engineering analysis software can save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours.
5. Customer Service And Support
Any time you install new software on your network, there could be glitches. The learning curve can be steep for some members of your organization, but with the right customer service and support, they will soon be performing flawlessly. Ask vendors about the level of after-purchase support you can expect. Will they help your employees properly configure their computers, notebooks and smart phones? Will they be available if you run into an unexpected problem?
When you're ready to graduate to the latest in engineering analysis software, take the time to ask the right questions so that you invest in a product that will work across multiple platforms and quickly help turn problems into solutions.