A Damage Prevention View of the Infrastructure Bill: How strong are your processes?

The Infrastructure Bill, which will gradually allocate approximately $550 billion in federal investments to America’s infrastructure over a five-year period, is already impacting the damage prevention space. How will the industry manage a 50-75% increase in ticket volume? Is your organization equipped to handle the additive load? What processes do you have in place to ensure you don’t fall behind? Let’s dive into some of the things utilities, municipalities, contract locators, and stakeholders should consider. 

How efficient are you?

Asset protection isn’t easy. Many locators are overworked, sometimes sinking upwards of 80+ hours per week to ensure both infrastructure and excavators are safe from harm. What tools do you have in place to help streamline your dispatching and locating processes? Consider the following: 

  • Do you screen tickets, and if so, how? Do you have designated ticket screeners in the office, or are locators appointed to this task? Is there consistency in screening methods from one individual to the next? What percentage of tickets are filtered before they are sent to the field? What do the numbers tell you? 
  • Do you use ticket management software, and are you taking full advantage of its capabilities? Many solutions include options to automate workflows, such as auto-dispatching tickets to locators, tagging tickets to advise on obvious clear situations, automatic workflow adjustments for high profile areas, offline apps to improve efficiency in poor coverage areas, and so much more. How are you leveraging these feature sets? Talk to your ticket management vendor and explore options to address pain points and create operational efficiencies. If you do not currently leverage a ticket management system, consider how doing so might enhance your team’s ability to maximize productivity. 

Are you retaining your employees, particularly your locators?

It is no secret that locating underground assets is stressful and demanding, so employee retention efforts should be a priority. Ask yourself these two questions: 

  • Do you promote a positive work environment? It is essential that your staff feel safe and valued by their leaders. Value and appreciation increase morale, and those with high morale produce results. Consider ways to reward those who put forth the effort and are deserving, while finding ways to motivate, train, and encourage those who are not performing as well.  
  • Do you promote from within the organization? People want to experience professional success, and there’s no better way to experience professional success than through growth. Provide your staff with regular opportunities to develop their skill sets and be cognizant of those with potential. 

How effective are your training programs?

Effective training programs pay for themselves by helping ensure those responsible for identifying and marking facilities are equipped with the know-how to do so. Proper training promotes confidence. Confidence increases morale. High morale increases performance and retention. Think about this: 

  • Are your education programs current? 
  • Do you encourage refresher training courses to establish consistency from your novice staff all the way up to your most senior employees? 
  • Does your environment foster teamwork where your junior staff have a mentor, or access to more experienced resources to ask questions and seek guidance? 

What tools do you leverage in the field?

Possessing the necessary tools is critical to your success. Are you using what you have available to you? 

  • Mobile applications can help streamline processes by eliminating paperwork and allowing field personnel to work offline, while still providing most, if not all, functionality available when the user is online. 
  • Locating devices are paramount. Is everyone equipped with the proper tools to enable peak effectiveness? Are they properly trained on the tools they have? 
  • Do you have a simple solution for taking, uploading, and storing photos? Good photos that are preserved with lat/long data and date/time stamps can go a long way in proving you are not at fault in damage scenarios. 

We encourage you to consider how each of these processes might change with a significant increase in ticket volume. What are the top three areas in your operation that might encounter challenges? The substantial increase in ticket flow is fast approaching, and now is the time to ensure you are prepared. 

About the authors: Matt Hill, Customer Success Manager, has been with KorTerra for 11 years. He is focused on partnering with clients to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and comprehensive utilization of KorTerra products. Erik Chamberlain, Manager of Implementation and Training, has been with KorTerra for 20 years. He leads KorTerra’s customer onboarding and implementation efforts.

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