From paper trails to digital experiences – how automated forms drive best practice in safety

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It’s very rewarding working with organisations that can attribute not only process efficiencies and costs savings to a new digital transformation solution, but also improved safety.  It’s even better when I can see the project happen quickly and easily.

Any business that has been established for several years will at some stage be faced with the challenge of upgrading legacy systems and processes.

At Wannon Water, their reliance on paper-based forms and manual workflow overtime became at odds their emphasis on safety, compliance and efficiency. It provided a clear opportunity for improving how they collect data – particularly out in the field, where employees needed to complete a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) prior to starting any manual activity, such as digging roads or fixing pipes.

Depending on the job, each of the 300 or so JSAs completed each month could incorporate multiple forms, each extending to several pages long. As one might imagine, this convoluted process combined with the cumbersome nature of paper-based data capture, led to several issues. Forms were submitted in an incomplete state,  at times forms were left in vehicles and never made it to records management; and there were often discrepancies with version control.

“Capturing data with Intelledox next-generation forms delivers business benefits that extend far past efficiencies”, says Wannon Water GIS & Digital Workplace Manager Chris Crossland.

An automated digital solution

Wannon Water sought a digital solution that made data collection easier, improved data analytics and upheld their commitment to safety and compliance. The partnership between Intelledox, and Intelledox partner FYB (who conducted business analysis and established the digital processes) allowed them to do just that. In a period of 6 months, they automated forms end-to-end, from data capture to workflow to delivery.

Post implementation, we asked them how digitising their forms impacted their business. And the benefits were many.

First was the efficiency benefits. Their people find automated forms faster and easier to complete, and they can now do this using their tablet or smartphone. Completion is now automated, so an algorithm prompts them to fill out required sections depending on their relevant scenarios, so employees no longer need to dig out additional forms. The digitisation effort has also reduced the JSA process from eleven possible paper forms to just one digital form, and changes made throughout a job are live and up to date – improving their overall reporting and compliance.

Second, smart workflows direct the forms immediately to the right people and removed manual scanning requirements and the risk of lost forms. Wannon were able to save 1.5 FTE’s by eliminating manual form collection and redeploy them to new, higher value tasks.

But more than that, automated forms have provided valuable opportunities for Wannon Water to leverage data analytics more effectively. For example, when previously completing paper based forms, employees could use several alternative words to describe a fall – perhaps trip, stumble or slip. Introducing standard words through a drop-down list or a ‘pick-list’ has made it easier for data to be analysed and applied to improve operational effectiveness.

Perhaps an unintended benefit was that Wannon Water were able to identify employees who fill out forms really well and use them to help set company-wide quality standards. They’ve also been able to identify common safety hazards and areas for improvement, which has informed the frequency and style of their internal training programs.

What’s next?

While the JSA was the original catalyst for change, Wannon Water have since expanded their automated forms to include several others, including expense claims, corporate ordering and vehicle checklists. This truly has been a fantastic example of digital transformation best practice – starting with one or two problem areas and implementing a solution that can later be scaled to other parts of the business with the lessons learnt from the first project.

I’ve had the privilege over the past 10 years to work with organisations globally on their transformation projects, large and small – and while change is hard, and transformation is never easy or straightforward, the combination of expected and unexpected benefits at the end have always made the journey worth it.

Introducing Intelledox’s automated forms has supported a positive cultural shift and provided Wannon with immediate access to the data for the first time. This has not only delivered tangible benefits, but allowed Wannon to re-define ‘best practice’ in safety, compliance and efficiency.