After 9/11, generating stations came under a lot of pressure from Homeland Security to shore up security at their entrances for the sake of the country’s electrical grid. Additionally, generating stations generally use a considerable amount of contractor labor. Maintaining something as simple as a visitor and contractor gate log became more important than ever.
While security was front and center, efficiency mattered also. Coordinating entry of visitors had always been a source of confusion, frustration, and inefficiency for the stations. Visitors or contractors would show up at the gate without prior approval or communication and then the security guards would have to call all over the station trying to locate the employee responsible for escorting the visitors.
I offered to build a custom list to streamline the process of communicating expected visitors and contractors and ensuring no time or effort would be wasted coordinating visits and escort personnel.
I built a custom list to exactly match the existing paper visitor log and then ensured the security guards could access and edit the list (they did not have access to the plant’s other SharePoint information). The list build was simple, but as is often the case, the most difficult and important part of rolling out the tool was communicating the process and expectations.
The new process involved expecting plant liaisons to enter a new item for each visit as soon as they knew it would take place. I built views for the security guards so they would see a clean list of who to expect on the current day, the following day, and nothing else. The (often computer-challenged) security guards would not be distracted by a busy and cluttered list of all visitors from all days.
With less than one hour of SharePoint development time, and about a week of planning and communicating roll-out of the process, the tool was successfully implemented. We did not calculate the time savings of the tool, but it was considerable for those employees involved in the visitor/contractor process.
The tool was so well received that it was rolled out to most generating stations in the fleet.
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