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Dominion Energy

Field1st Case Study

Dominion Energy, a large East Coast energy company, needed help designing a new app for data management and reporting challenges in the field. The company partnered with RTS Labs and managed to create a real solution to the problems that they were facing. This app went on to become a comprehensive platform known as Field1st.

This case study explores the issues that Dominion Energy was facing, and how RTS Labs managed to help create the ideal solution through app technology.

About Dominion Energy

Dominion Energy is a big power company based in Virginia. They had partnered with RTS Labs previously to work on a number of different solutions that were developed. In 2018, Dominion Energy partnered up with RTS Labs once again to address the issues they were facing with their web portal.

Being a large-scale sophisticated company, Dominion Energy had plenty of in-house IT support. This had allowed them to create a web portal with the intention of shifting their operations from paper to digital. The portal allowed people to collect safety observations and pre-job brief data that were on paper and move them into a digital format.

While the company was well-equipped with the technical know-how and assets to make the portal a reality, its introduction was not as successful as hoped for. The end result was not an effective solution, and people still ended up relying on paper-based data.


Dominion Energy Web Portal Challenges

Although the company was able to produce a fully operational web portal, adjusting to this process was a major challenge. Data was still being stored on paper and people working for the company faced difficulties embracing the new system. These were some of the challenges that Dominion Energy’s solution was facing.

People Continued to Use Paper

When Dominion Energy digitized their system, they did it with a rather old school approach. This meant that people working out in the field would struggle to capture data and record it through the new web portal.

Not only were the technicians used to working with paper to record data, but there were many challenges that came with using their approach out in the field.

For example, they wouldn’t always have access to the internet and needed to capture live data. Each different job involves new live information that is constantly changing. This means that using a regular Toughbook or laptop while in the field was very difficult. So, the tools that the new portal needed just didn’t relate to the kind of information and routines that the workers were using for recording in the field.

Due to the difficulties in capturing data, people would continue to rely on paper. They found this approach to work a lot easier with the jobs they were doing.

Space For Additional Information

Those working out in the field also needed to take down notes or record additional information. The approach with the new web portal would not allow for this. People had certain things that needed to be said and recorded, but they had no means to do this with the new software.

Again, this resulted in going back to paper.

The Field1st Approach

The ultimate approach that was taken to develop the Field1st app was to uncover the various frustrations and challenges experienced by end-users. The goal was to find areas of the web portal that just weren’t working and create new solutions around these.

Understand The End-User

One of the most important aspects of the Field1st app was engaging with and actually understanding the needs of the end-user. During the Field1st design process, the team would meet with the people on the ground who use these products. This was to understand exactly why they resort to paper and the kind of challenges that the web portal presented.

Genuinely understanding the end-user is critical to creating a platform that they will successfully use. This is why the Field 1st approach involved spending hundreds of hours with the people on the ground to figure out ways that they would adopt this solution over the use of paper.

What really sets this product apart is that it took two thoughtful years of understanding the processes, challenges, and reality of working in the field. This helped create a product built alongside the end-user – not just something built by a remote tech team.

Plenty Of Testing

Once there was a genuine understanding of the needs of the product users, sufficient testing needed to be undertaken. Field1st actually came up with two different prototypes – both of which were tested out in the field by the end-user.

The final product that was chosen has been validated by the user, tested in real-life scenarios, and was found to provide the best experience. Running the app as a prototype before launching helped to create a product that was relevant and effective.

Solving The Challenges

The Field1st product was initially specifically designed around digitizing the pre-job briefing process. The intention being to reduce OSHA injuries and incidents as part of their process. However, the app also then went on to solve the safety observation process.

This was achieved by identifying job hazards and opening a conversation around safety in the field. The product ended up having multiple applications around safety in particular.

The entire process that the product covers includes safety conversations and planning going into a job, and assessing and collecting data on the job while it’s underway. These are the different use cases and ways that Field1st provided an all-in-one solution for Dominion Energy.

Better Data Management and OSHA Use Case

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) best-practice standards is a key area that this app works on. The product speeds up the process of sending data back to the office on what’s going on in the field. This allows for better insight into the understanding of common hazards, trends, and gaining insight into where to train and coach people.

Through developing this app, a realization was made that much of the paperwork that did come through just ended up in the filing cabinet. This means that some of it never makes it to the cloud resulting in the loss of important data.

The new app allows for instant access to data from the field, which allows for easier and more efficient data management. It provides 100% visibility for employees in the field as well as those in the office.

Safety First

The overriding umbrella principle of this app is safety. First and foremost, Field1st is a safety product. However, it is also a robust solution that does offer further opportunities.

Some other areas that the product can dive into include personal support and workflow efficiency. This is a product that can provide multiple solutions around safety and data for those working in the field and those in the office.

Micro Training

One of the core features of the app includes training and sharing knowledge. It is not just about gathering data and storing it in the cloud. The app actually has a way of serving content through a content management system that is completely set up based on certain tasks and queries.

For example, if someone is out in the field and they are about to perform a specific job, the content management system can direct them towards information on that. This can include certain procedural tasks, a checklist, or certain safety information.

So, the app is not just centered around safety and data management. You can use it for training, reinforcement, and policies and procedures.

Offline Capabilities

As mentioned, workers out in the field don’t always have access to the internet. Thus, the Field1st app also has offline capabilities.

This allows for data access and recording in remotes areas. Workers can still access safety information and any data they capture will be queued and uploaded as soon as they reconnect to the internet.

How The App Works

Ultimately, Field1st is a comprehensive safety and data collection app. By gathering data from the field and uploading it to a cloud, it provides a number of benefits.

It helps to increase safety for individuals and provides both IT and cost benefits through having centralized and instant data in a cloud. Then, of course, there is the benefit of having easy access to valuable data.

Better data management is a major theme amongst businesses, and Field1st is the answer. This is a flexible and robust solution designed for large enterprises, but the principles can still apply to smaller companies as well.
Field1st focuses on keeping teams safer. It is a great example of how technology when developed with the users, can really enhance their experience as well as that of management.

Field1st – A Flexible Solution

Dominion Energy faced an issue that many large companies have to deal with – data management. Although they had a large dedicated IT department, the solution just did not work with the actual end-users.

Through a partnership with RTS Labs, Field1st was created. This is a flexible and robust product that extends further than simply data management. The app covers safety, training, and maintaining OSHA compliance. The key is that the product was developed with the end-users to create something that really translates into a user-friendly workflow.