Sorting Through the Software

Nonprofit foundation reviews and grades major municipal asset maintenance and management systems.
Sorting Through the Software
Nonprofit foundation reviews and grades major municipal asset maintenance and management systems.

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As a public works professional, you know how valuable maintenance and asset management software is in your efforts to maintain and operate infrastructure cost-effectively.

Trouble is, you don’t always know which programs to use. There are many vendors, and a noisy marketplace of product claims to sort through.

To help you find optimum solutions, the nonprofit Water Finance Research Foundation (WFRF) has completed a comprehensive review of major computerized maintenance management and infrastructure asset management systems used by municipal governments and water and wastewater utilities in the United States and Canada. These systems were evaluated on the basis of such qualities as cost, vendor service and support, work orders, asset inventory and inventory control, Esri GIS integration and mapping, among others.

Software systems from 14 different suppliers were evaluated: Accela, Agile Assets, Azteca System’s Cityworks, Cartegraph, Cityview, EnerGov, IBM’s Maximo, Infor/Hansen, Lucity, Maintenance Connection, Novotx’s Elements, Oracle, Pubworks and Vueworks. The top scorers in each of four main categories are highlighted below.

1. Asset Management

The foundation ranked the Asset Management capabilities of the evaluated systems from 1-5 (5 being highest) in three categories: Condition Assessment Capabilities, Risk Management, and Asset Inventory and Hierarchy. Systems from five companies — Oracle, Accela, Cityworks, Maximo, and EnerGov — received perfect scores of 15 and achieved top ranking. Infor received 14 points in the evaluation.

Oracle’s Utilities Work and Asset Management software system was designed from the ground up specifically to be delivered over the Web. It is a fully integrated, highly scalable solution for managing asset life cycles. Key features include scalability, ease of use, fully integrated workflows, easy configuration, streamlined cost tracking and operational accounting, real-time enterprise-wide visibility and reliable guidelines for regulatory compliance.

Accela Asset Management allows the user to optimize the infrastructure and facilities that improve and enhance the quality of community life. It tracks and manages the life cycle of assets like water, wastewater, public works, streets, transportation, parks and recreation, storm-water, facilities and more. The system enables maximum utilization of available resources by analyzing combined information about staff, schedules, work orders and equipment to make informed decisions.

IBM Maximo Asset Management solutions provide single point of control over all types of assets — production, infrastructure, facilities, transportation and communications — by managing them all on a common platform which allows sharing and enforcement of best practices, inventory, resources and personnel. The software includes six management modules in an enhanced service-oriented architecture: asset management, work management, service management, contract management, inventory management and procurement management.

The Cityworks GIS-centric Asset Management Solution (AMS) is a critical part of the overall Enterprise Asset Management plan that can improve asset utilization, extending asset life and performance while reducing capital costs and asset-related operating costs. It helps decision makers balance risk and cost, providing out-of-the-box inspection and monitoring tools (e.g., maintenance history and routine inspections) that are appropriate to assess likelihood of failure for many assets.

EnerGov’s Asset Management suite was designed to automate the management of capital facilities and infrastructure. It can be configured to allow agencies to determine appropriate assets to track, as well as asset details like inventories, maintenance, costing and comprehensive work orders. Its architecture allows seamless integration with a full range of hardware and software resources such as GIS and SCADA systems.

2. Work Management

Two companies (Cityworks and Accela) received perfect scores of 15 — five points each for work orders/work flow, inventory, and licensing and permitting — in the category of Work Management. Five others (Infor/Hansen, Maximo, Lucity, Cartegraph, and Oracle) received the next highest score of 13 for the same features.

In Cityworks, the user can group assets by location, type, age or other parameters for maintenance planning, including preventive maintenance, work orders, and both scheduled and reactive work. Work orders can be set up to repeat following a given cycle, or only on a given date. Scheduled work is searchable, and can be listed and illustrated in the GIS map view.

Accela Work Crew allows agency staff and authorized contractors to access and update work orders from their smartphones or tablets. Integrated with Accela Automation, Accela Work Crew views locations of scheduled and completed work on a map, checks off work order/workflow tasks as they are completed, adds supporting information such as task completion, actual time spent on each task and actual material/parts/supplies used.

Infor Public Sector Asset Management tools use innovative technologies to improve work processes. Examples include tracking and reporting costs against assets and activities; planning, scheduling and executing maintenance programs creating detailed asset inventories and agency-specific asset inspections; recording and tracking requests for service; leveraging GIS technology to create more accurate inventories; and providing compliance support for current and future asset related regulations.

Maximo (IBM) Asset Management solutions manage all types of assets — production, infrastructure, facilities, transportation and communications — on a common platform. The platform allows optimization of asset performance and maximization of ROI through sharing and enforcement of best practices, inventory, resources and personnel. Users can manage both planned and unplanned work activities, from initial request through completion and recording of actuals.

In Lucity Work, users can develop a workflow and approval process for each phase of a work order, with automatic notifications for the next step in the process. Software schedules and tracks work tasks, personnel, equipment and material usage; defines estimated budget and asset maintenance tasks; tracks actual costs versus budget for up-to-date expenditure analysis; and manages and easily modifies scheduled tasks.

Cartegraph is a cloud-based Operations Management System designed to communicate with other enterprise systems and to be easy to use. Created with best practices in mind, it intakes requests from any open 311 system and associates those requests with individual assets and locations, immediately creating the work that needs to be done.

Oracle’s Utilities Work and Asset Management provides full support for all asset types, including fixed, fleet, distribution and linear. It plans and schedules work orders with appropriate material and labor resources. Other features include integrated workflows across asset, work and supply chain management; detailed life cycle information, tracking, and control; and preventive and predictive work using multiple maintenance approaches.

3. Esri-GIS

“Investing in a complete GIS system with full functionality produces an overall reduction in operating and maintenance costs and can become the foundation of a lower cost asset management system,” according to the WFRF.

Category rankings were based on mapping, Esri integration, 311 systems, mobile devices and Esri-GIS return on investment.

Cityworks ranked the highest among the companies valuated, with 23 out of 25 points. Next were Accela, Infor and Oracle with 22 points. Energov and Maximo rounded out the top-ranked group with 21 points.

Cityworks offers a GIS-centric asset management approach that improves maintenance and daily operations, allowing agencies to organize, manage and maintain asset information within an intuitive map interface. Users can visualize scheduled work and ongoing activities as well as maintenance issues and historical information. The GIS is based on open technology and supports a  wide variety of applications, including inventory and SCADA. Cityworks is a Platinum level partner with Esri.

Accela lists the ability to start tasks directly from the map, as well as deploying spatial data anywhere in the Accela application as key benefits. Also, Accela GIS supports both the ArcGIS Server and Microsoft Bing maps. The system enables the user to automate complex and repetitive tasks, access multiple map layers, create custom query layers and visualize results on the map, among other features. Accela is a gold level Esri partner.

The Infor GIS integrates map and other spatial information into a local agency’s core business processes to enhance the efficiency of all internal processes. The major components are the interactive Infor Hansen Map Drawer’s Infor Hansen GIS Data Miner which performs real-time spatial queries against multiple GIS layers, checking for problems; and Infor Hansen GeoAdministrator, a powerful spatial centric data management tool. Infor is a member partner with Esri.

Oracle’s spatial database management platform includes support for all geospatial data types and models, including vector and raster data, and topology and network models. The open, native spatial support eliminates the cost of separate, proprietary systems, and is supported by all leading geospatial vendors.

The EnerGov 9 Enterprise framework was specifically designed with an advanced architecture that allows for seamless integration with a full range of hardware and software resources such as GIS and SCADA systems. This integration allows for invaluable resources to be integrated into the workflow in a simple and cost-effective manner. Enterprise GIS integration introduces a new dimension of visualization and analysis capabilities to the end users, executive stakeholders and GIS professionals alike. Energov is a Gold level partner with Esri.

IBM Maximo Spatial Asset Management provides users with the visibility to see complex GIS information, including a dynamic geospatial context of work, assets and relevant land-based features, which improves reliability, longevity and efficient work execution. The program improves work planning and analysis while eliminating the need for data duplication. It also allows organizations to take advantage of data not maintained in their GIS systems.

4. Company Services

The WFRF also ranked software suppliers on their ability to provide support services to their customers.

“The functionality of the core components of a software application is very important, however, the actual success and level of benefit gained is a direct result of the work and support around the planning, implementation, testing and training,” the WFRF explained. “The ability for the software vendor to provide enhanced support and training to ensure the successful implementation is critical.”

Category rankings were based on service and implementation, support and training, and specialization.

Four companies topped the list of rankings with perfect scores: Cityworks, Cartegraph, Maximo and Oracle. Infor and Lucity ranked next highest, followed by Accela and Energov.

Support for Cityworks implementations is provided by the Customer Support Representative in a particular geographical area. Support is also available by phone, email, interactive Web meetings and VPN connections. Additional support is available for perusing 24/7 at www.mycityworks.com. The Update and Support agreement provides subsequent upgrades, enhancements, and bug fixes for future releases of the licensed applications as long as the annual renewal is current.

Cartegraph employs User Groups and Regional Training Seminars to help customers learn more about system functionality, best practices and regional trends. User groups focus on applying technology to a user’s specific situations. Training sessions include tutorial demonstrations, and the latest tips and techniques. They include two technical tracks and 12 learning sessions.

Maximo users can receive assistance from IBM Software Services knowledgeable consultants who are prepared to implement solutions, maximize the value of the investment and address critical needs. A web-based program gives customers quick access to fixes, personalized product updates and training documents. Service request and guided support functions facilitate personalized, custom solutions.

Oracle Premier Support provides essential support services including 24/7 technical assistance, proactive support resources and product updates. My Oracle Support, an online technical support portal, enables customers to search knowledge, participate in communities, log/track service requests, sign up for alerts, view product health recommendations, download product updates/patches and take advantage of Oracle Maintenance and Upgrade Advisors.

Infor provides a single point of contact to oversee management of customers’ enterprise solutions —including customizations. The program helps users maximize OS and application performance, gain best of breed services, control costs and plan for future needs. Training is structured into role-based paths across three tiers: fundamental classes that provide product overviews, use classes which cover skills necessary to use the system, and implementation classes which accelerate implementation of the software.

Lucity maintains an online help desk that’s open 24/7 and a full-scale support staff during business hours. Customers can get answers swiftly from a collaborative support team of experienced staffers who “know our software forwards and backwards,” according to the company. For access to the latest knowledge and training, the company conducts webinars and reference documentation. A Client Portal announces regional user group meeting, new training guides, new product releases and a blog.

This story originally appeared as a four-part series at MSWmag.com.



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