West Tree, a 75-year-old tree removal company, works primarily with utility companies to ensure that power lines remain safe and unfettered. Much of its back-office operations involve employee certifications, safety audits, training videos, fleet management, project management, time sheets, and field communications--all of which were time-consuming, manual processes. West Tree wanted to streamline and automate its back-office processes, so it decided to build a Crew Management System (CMS).
West Tree’s challenge was to ensure that employees were maintaining their certifications. The company proactively sent email reminders to staff when certifications were nearing expiration. This functionality ensures that West Tree meets contract requirements and its work schedule doesn’t get interrupted.
Another challenge that the CMS helped West Tree solve was maintaining safety records. The company built a module that manages safety audit and observation records to help achieve a safer work environment. It also provides feedback to management about the effectiveness of the training provided. A Training Video module works in tandem with Safety Audits to provide field employees with online training. This has proven to be a boost to productivity because there’s no work time spent traveling to a training facility.
Finally, a Fleet Management module was needed to leverage GPS to show the current location of vehicles. The module also maintains vehicle repair status and daily statistics to provide better management of the fleet, which improves productivity in the field. Additional benefits include protecting against vehicle theft and increasing employee accountability and safety.
I can’t see us using anything other than APEX. Responsive design is a timesaver—you just program once and don’t worry about it.
Director of IT, West Tree Service
West Tree chose Oracle Cloud Database and Oracle APEX due to their robust scalability and ease of use. The Crew Management System was an early success with its first module, Certifications, which freed internal employees to focus on higher-value projects and empowered field crews with timely information. Over two years, West Tree continued to streamline other parts of its back-office operations by extending CMS with additional modules.
West Tree’s development of the Crew Management System has been a continual process with enhancement modules added regularly. West Tree began with a need to ensure that employee certifications were stored and easily accessible. This functionality was delivered in the first 30 days because of Oracle’s easy-to-use Cloud Database and APEX platform. However, this was the first of many modules that improved business productivity.
Some of the most recent enhancements to the CMS help operations to track the daily progress of jobs and ensure adherence to the work schedule. Performing this function online reduces labor required to collect the data and offers quicker analysis and operational reporting. The CMS has also been extended to record timesheet data and integrate with the company’s accounting software to produce weekly payrolls.
In the near future, West Tree will enable timesheet management directly to foremen in the field and eliminate redundant data entry. This functionality will complement its most recent addition of a field communications module, which allows management to send urgent safety messages and other important communications in a timely manner.