Technical Assistance Facilitation - Matching Experts with Needs Across a Large Organization

The Situation

After the 2012 merger, and with a workforce of more than 5,000 employees in just the fossil-hydro generation section, the fossil-hydro organization was struggling to match those with technical needs and issues with the people responsible for high-level technical decisions and consultation. These “experts” were officially named “Designated Technical Authorities,” but since there were 64 of them spread out across five states, there were two distinct issues that had been identified.

First, local management and engineering did not know who to contact about their local technical issues. There was an Excel spreadsheet on a shared drive somewhere that listed them, but most did not know where that sheet was kept.

Secondly, once new issues were identified and communicated, there was no method for tracking items through to completion.

The Task

I was asked to build a SharePoint site to facilitate the process and to automate it as much as possible. All local generating station technical employees had to have a means to quickly contact the correct Designated Technical Authority (DTA), and then each issue had to be tracked through to completion.

The Action

I built the “Technical Authority” SharePoint site and built three lists; one for the roster of DTAs and what equipment they were assigned, an out-of-the-box task list, and a list for requests. The home page of the SharePoint site was designed to ensure the process was as intuitive as possible to the local technical people seeking assistance.

I then enlisted the help of a tech-savvy mechanical engineer to build a workflow that automated the following steps:

  1. Cross-reference each new request with the DTA roster list.
  2. Assign an action item to the correct DTA containing all pertinent information from the request.
  3. Send an email notification to the assigned DTA with links to the action item and the original request.
  4. Send an email notification to the requester containing the name of the DTA with a link to the action item.

The Results

Local technical employees with issues or in need of high-level technical authority decision making were now able to acquire assistance from distant experts within minutes, even if they did not know who those experts were in the beginning. The SharePoint form they completed was designed to acquire all necessary information to begin the assistance immediately.

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