A good history can teach us a lot. And good record-keeping practices – including frameworks for collecting and organizing important pieces of information – are critical to the success of any organization. This is especially true for an organization like PWSA.
For starters, we’re responsible for something critical: the delivery of life-sustaining water services to our community. Secondly, there’s simply a lot of information and records to capture and store, going back more than 150 years, and long before the formal establishment of our Authority.
Just like many of our infrastructure assets, which are largely out of sight and mind, this work is too. But make no mistake, this is crucial work that benefits both PWSA and our customers. That’s why we’ve embarked on a project to overhaul our records management process to better store and organize that information in one centralized, digital location.
PWSA has in its possession a wealth of informational records. This includes historical images (see historic photo of the Highland Park II Reservoir above) to accounts of the infrastructure assets in our system to contemporary engineering schematics and recent construction work. It’s important that this information is identified, recorded, and organized properly so we as an organization have at our fingertips the data we need to best deliver water services to our customers.
In 2020, PWSA began this important record management overhaul, with the goal of digitizing and finding a way to organize all this information in a centralized way. To support this effort, we brought on two new document management professionals, Neil Manganaro (Document Management Specialist) and Alicia Britton (Document Management Associate), to help lead the charge. They were later supported by intern Ethan Ratz, who joined PWSA in the summer of 2022 and currently remains with us.
After vendor interviews, an enterprise document management software called DocuWare was selected, and work digitizing documents and identifying and implementing a viable way of organizing and indexing this information began.
To date, more than 140,000 important documents and records, primarily relating to our engineering and operations functions, have been digitized and set into our organizational indexing framework.
Practically speaking, PWSA employees needing access to these records – to help design a project, reference past work, or discern the location of an asset like a water main – can now quickly and easily find them in the searchable central record system as opposed to searching through the physical records room. This means a fuller and more holistic understanding of the work we’re embarking on and faster service to our customers.
Of course, this is only the beginning of this endeavor, and plenty of more work will continue to be done. Moving forward, PWSA will begin to digitize and organize other records and documents across our organization. Our document management team will also continue to work with PWSA employees using this system to identify ways to improve how they interact with it.