Offline Data Capture
Since 1939, Holy Cross Energy has focused on providing safe, reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy and services that improve the quality of life of members. The electric utility company is a cooperative corporation with 158 employees serving more than 55,000 members across Northwest Colorado.
With nearly 50 linemen working in the field on everything from installing meters to ensuring the safety of transformers, streamlined communication and data collection is a must for this busy utility company.
In 2017, Holy Cross decided it was time to eliminate outdated and inefficient paper processes for their linemen. After some extensive research by software and systems specialist Lori Welch, they turned to Formstack to improve communication, speed, data collection, and efficiency of their daily projects.
Linemen at Holy Cross perform an array of different jobs, from installing power lines to fixing transformers. Worksites are spread across commercial and residential facilities, and many don’t provide a stable internet connection. Oftentimes, the linemen are working from a basement or concrete bunker where there’s no internet at all.
Performing large projects across five counties without internet created massive challenges for Holy Cross. They were using paper forms to collect and share data, which complicated already stressful jobs, like installing upwards of 100 meters at a time.
For these types of projects, the linemen would have to find or create a form that fit exactly the amount of meters they were installing, by columns and rows. They would then take the paper form to the site, hand write in all the meter codes, and bring the paper form to the office. Employees would then have to manually enter all the data into their system and route it to the GIS department.
This process wasted time, created barriers to communication, and caused errors in Holy Cross’s data. There also wasn't an easy way to include photos of the newly installed meters for auditing purposes. When it came time to share reports, it was difficult for them to produce clean, organized documents for employees and customers. Welch knew there had to be a better way for the linemen to complete this incredibly important process.
Holy Cross needed a data collection solution that worked offline. Because the linemen work in the field across multiple work sites in various counties, their data collection solution also needed to be mobile, flexible, and user-friendly. Welch wanted her linemen to be able to focus on their work, not on creating, managing, and submitting complicated forms and workflows.
Welch decided to use Formstack because it was easy to use and offers an offline data collection solution through the Formstack Go app. Linemen at Holy Cross were able to learn how to use the technology quickly, which was exactly what Welch was looking for.
“Formstack is a great interface for the non-computer-savvy person,” Welch said. “The Formstack Go app has eased functionality for everybody so much. It was easy for the linemen to use and start developing.”
Holy Cross provided all of their linemen with iPads to make on-site data collection faster, easier, and more precise. When paired with the Formstack Go app, linemen were able to utilize their forms from anywhere, at anytime, without worrying about an internet connection.
“Formstack was able to work on all mobile devices and scale. It works flawlessly,” Welch stated.
Linemen now use Formstack Go to complete around 20 processes, from replacing power lines to fixing switchboards. They eliminated their dependence on paper, which improved data and communication across departments.
“Formstack, overall, has been a successful product. It helps us communicate better and breaks down the silos at Holy Cross because departments work together to collaborate,” Welch shared.
Major meter installments are no longer complicated or manual processes. With an iPad and Formstack Go, linemen can collect all the data they need without worrying about internet access. The meter installment form uses Conditional Logic to specify the number of rows and columns of meters, then each field is filled with meter data using a barcode scanner. Photos of the meters are uploaded, and the GIS department is automatically notified once the form is submitted.
With this process in place, manual work has been eliminated, and data is transferred across departments much quicker and smoother.
“Formstack has really aided and improved communication between the linemen and our office. It’s helped everyone all around,” Welch said.
Formstack is now crucial to data management across departments at Holy Cross. They utilize nearly 200 forms, streamlining key processes like customer rebate forms, contractor requests, and work orders. Many of their forms are paired with WebMerge, a Formstack company that produces beautifully designed documents from form data. From creating PDF project reports for long-term data storage to providing welcome letters to new customers, WebMerge has been a great pairing with Formstack for Holy Cross.
Overall, Holy Cross has found immense value in Formstack’s robust platform.
“Formstack has fit all of our needs, and I haven’t found a problem I couldn’t solve using it,” shared Welch.