Assuring data quality with comprehensive training
After taking the decision to upgrade a critical asset management system, Severn Trent Water asked Esri UK to train 30 employees in the use of this new GIS-based application. Esri UK delivered a bespoke, on-site course that boosted user competence and will help improve data accuracy.
Severn Trent Water is one of the largest utility companies in the UK, delivering fresh water and providing sewerage services. It serves over eight million customers from the Bristol Channel to the Humber and from mid-Wales to the East Midlands.
Employees learned how to use the new GIS to undertake their job functions and discovered improved, ‘best practice’ ways of working
The thorough training has minimised potential for human error and consequently deliver the highest quality asset records
Esri UK’s cost-effective and convenient training was delivered on-site for 30 employees
Severn Trent Water first deployed geographic information system (GIS) technology 12 years ago to help it manage its water mains and sewer records. Over time, it gradually extended its use of GIS throughout its organisation and used Esri’s ArcGIS software to create a corporate GIS platform, known internally as GIS in Severn Trent (GISST). Today, GISST delivers asset data, map views and geospatial analysis capabilities to over 4,500 employees and underpins almost all of the organisation’s core business processes. “We cannot operate without GIS now,” says Severn Trent Water’s GIS manager Steve Allen.
One of the organisation’s most important GIS applications is GISSTupdate. This pivotal solution is used by the business to create records of underground pipework and other assets, as well as update records whenever assets are replaced. The information captured and maintained using GISSTupdate flows throughout the entire organisation and is used by everyone from senior managers to field-based engineers. It is therefore absolutely essential for employees to be able to use GISSTupdate effectively to create highly accurate records.
In October 2011, new legislation came into effect requiring water companies to take over responsibility for private drains and sewers across the UK. Severn Trent Water anticipated that its network of assets could increase by a massive 68%, from 54,000 km to 91,000 km, as a direct result of this act of parliament. To help it capture data about all of these new assets, the organisation decided to upgrade its GISSTupdate application and migrate it to the latest version of Esri’s ArcGIS technology.
Given the criticality of the GISST update application to the business, Severn Trent Water wanted to make sure that its employees could use the new GIS confidently and proficiently. It therefore called upon Esri UK to deliver a bespoke programme of training for over thirty people.
We cannot operate without GIS now
Steve Allen – GIS Manager, Severn Trent Water
There was just a three-week window for the training to take place, so the course programme and schedule had to be meticulously planned. A certified trainer from Esri UK spent several days on site, assessing the current level of competency within the team, seeing how the legacy system was used and identifying skills gaps. He then devised a bespoke training programme, covering ArcGIS Desktop 10.0 and the ArcFM extension. The course materials were also tailored specifically for Severn Trent Water and included screen shots from both the legacy GISSTupdate application and the new one to aid understanding.
In total, over 30 employees received training in how to use the new solution. The courses were tailored to meet the needs of different people within the team, who ranged from new employees and temporary staff to highly experienced ‘power-users’. Some employees received two days of training, while others received up to four days of training, depending on their ability level and job requirements.
The training was delivered onsite, at Severn Trent Water’s offices, and incorporated lots of exercises, which gave users the opportunity to test their understanding and practice their skills. These exercises, as well as examples used in the training, were all based on Severn Trent Water’s own business data, which made them much more meaningful for the attendees.
The training has helped us to find and reinforce best practice ways of working
Steve Allen – GIS Manager, Severn Trent Water
Esri UK delivered the training on schedule, within the three week migration period stipulated by the business. When the new GISSTupdate application went live, all employees in the team were able to perform their tasks competently. “The training has helped us to find and reinforce best practice ways of working,” Allen says. “Esri UK helped employees to understand why they needed to do activities in a certain way and how the software works.”
The company’s investment in thorough training will help to minimise human errors and ensure that asset records are created and updated accurately. “Data quality is very important in our business,” explains Allen. “We need accurate records not just to show us where our assets are, but also to support all our business planning activities and investment decisions. Having accurate asset information helps us develop our business and deliver a reliable and good service for our customers.”
The training provided by Esri UK was very cost effective for Severn Trent Water, because it enabled the company to provide highly relevant, customised training for less than the cost of sending 30 employees on standard courses. The company also saved money by eliminating the need to reimburse employees’ travel and accommodation expenses.
Allen believes that Severn Trent Water gained added value for money from the high quality, bespoke GISSTupdate training materials developed by Esri UK. “We can use these resources ourselves in house, to train new employees in the future,” he says.