Completing over 700 projects a year, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) needed a more efficient and reliable means of completing and storing the extensive paperwork accompanying each project.
ODOT leveraged GoFormz to digitize and simplify their documentation, allowing field teams to complete forms from their preferred devices while working offline from any location. Now completed forms are easily routed to key contacts, and SharePoint records are automatically updated.
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The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) supports the highway system and transportation initiatives across the twelve regions of Ohio via maintenance, construction, and snow and ice operations. “ODOT's regional district offices and Central Office divisions work together to fulfill the department's mission of providing safe and easy movement of people and goods from place to place.”
Responsible for over 700 contracts a year, the Ohio Department of Transportation needed a more efficient means of completing, storing, and accessing the extensive paperwork accompanying each project. “We had no place to oversee these electronically,” explained Janet Treadway, ODOT’s Project Business Administrator & Electronic Delivery Lead. “So everything was done in a vacuum, per project, and those paper documents were managed in bankers’ boxes.” These documents would then need to be stored and maintained for a minimum of seven years, requiring staff members to either manually store or scan an immense collection of documents. “It could be 30 years, 50 years, that we have to maintain all of those documents.”
Adding to these frustrations, documentation was often completed differently based on the agency or worker, making it difficult to standardize documentation and data capture.
“I mean, that was the biggest thing, figuring out how we were going to ... capture the information out in the field,” Janet explained. “We wanted to be able to take photos, we needed to be able to work offline, and we needed to be agnostic so that we could work with any type of device because we have a lot of different users with different technology comfort levels and knowledge.”
ODOT began testing digital solutions to alleviate their documentation demands, prioritizing device-agnostic solutions that would allow their teams to leverage their preferred device. “It was an effort to get our workforce used to technology,” Janet explained. “We had to stay agnostic because we had users that were comfortable with iOS and we didn’t necessarily want to hand them an Android - and vice versa.”
ODOT’s initial testing found several solutions lacked the features and capabilities their team needed. “We originally started looking at another solution but it didn’t provide offline functionality and it wasn’t as dynamic as what we needed it to be,” Janet explained. “We had a highway technician who drafted up a couple of our inspection forms in GoFormz and sent them to me to test out – I was like, this actually works!”
When relying on paper documents to complete inspections, ODOT teams were tasked with an extensive amount of work before documentation could be filed. “When it was paper documentation they could have been completing up to 20 worksheets a day and then organizing them, filling out the header on each, ensuring that the engineer received the proper documentation, and then it would be scanned and held onto.”
After piloting GoFormz for several months, across a variety of projects and teams, ODOT digitized over 200 inspection forms, equipping them with formulas and dynamic functionalities to guide data capture. These forms were eventually consolidated into a universal Template that would dynamically adjust to display only the data points users needed to complete. “Now they can drill down more intuitively to see exactly what they need to respond to and not look through pages of noise,” Janet explained. “Now that it’s drilled down more succinctly, they are able to answer three to nine fields compared to those 30-60 before. And it’s better data.”
The dynamic nature of ODOT’s digital inspection form allows users to quickly identify the data points they need to complete, expediting form completion and improving data quality. “Once we were able to fine-tune those attributes our workers were more apt to answer them, rather than overlook them.”
This Template also allows ODOT teams to capture new types of information, like timestamps and images. “Inspection photos are now directly embedded in the form, so there is no chance of them getting lost,” Janet explained. “They know where that photo is, they know where it’s going to be two years from now, and they know that they can mark it up and have it addressed by someone else in the office.”
Further elevating ODOT’s field-to-office workflow, teams can use GoFormz offline in remote locations. “They can still complete their work offline and once they are within connectivity they can complete and sync their work as if they had connectivity the entire day.”
Record-keeping and administrative demands resulting from overwhelming paperwork was another pain point ODOT addressed with the GoFormz platform. “We worked with GoFormz Professional Services to create an API that would reference our construction administration system and populate the form’s header information,” Janet explained. “It would also assign the username of the person who created the form, the date of the form… a lot of the data that they originally had to repeat form by form, is now automatically prepopulated for them.” Further streamlining ODOT’s processes, the API automatically files completed forms to the appropriate SharePoint site. “Now that we have the API to[automate the file transfer process to SharePoint], we’ve definitely seen the timeframe reduced for several workers which is very good.”
These documents were originally shared via email, requiring staff members to sort through their inboxes and file forms accordingly. “Now, if they complete a form, within a few minutes the project engineer can actually see it and address it,” Janet explained. “That’s been very beneficial.”
This has been especially impactful within compliance processes. “Now that we utilize GoFormz we’ve had a lot of our workers comment that workflows have helped them ensure that they have their documentation right where they need it and helps our contract compliance officers in not having to go through a box or file folder of papers to see if they have everything – they have it right there in their SharePoint site.”
With over 1,600 users leveraging GoFormz across a variety of agencies and regions, ODOT has achieved transformative time and cost savings. “We are no longer worried about printing paper inspections and distributing them out to all of our inspectors. We have over a thousand [inspectors], so we’re not creating that paper in the first place which is a major savings.”
The ease of onboarding new users onto the GoFormz platform also resulted in significant time savings and fewer demands on ODOT management. “I can hand a tablet to someone and tell them to go complete an inspection, and they would already have what they need without me having to stand there and guide them,” Janet detailed. “It’s been easy and intuitive to learn and utilize, so we haven’t had to hold trainings over and over again.”
Additional considerable time and budget savings have been achieved via simplified, automated form storage. “You are not spending all of that time on storage,” Janet emphasized. “Our interns aren’t having to stand there for hours and scan. Those individuals can be used on other projects that are more satisfying and time-efficient than scanning and scanning and scanning.”
“We are in the process of building a nightly transfer to a data warehouse so that we can query that information on a more ad-hoc basis.”