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Guest Blog from City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Recently our Building Maintenance Department informed us of the upcoming license renewal for their internal work order system for the City of Pittsfield. This system was used to report a building issue to the Building Maintenance department, and also housed all of their preventive maintenance calls. Upon further investigation, we learned the cost for renewing the license and bringing the application up to date would be a staggering $42,000.

Accela to the rescue

A search was conducted to find a less expensive suitable replacement. During the search process, I realized we had a product in our arsenal which could do the job. I approached the Director of Building Maintenance and told him I was pretty sure I could adapt the Accela Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) solution to fit his department’s needs.

I met with his staff and examined their request submission, workflow and preventative maintenance process, and started with the question, “what do you need to get out of the system?” Once that question was answered, I began a process of reverse engineering what they were currently doing and adapting it to Accela.

Modularity and granularity

The key was the degree to which Accela components could be assembled to meet the needs of the Building Department. After several broad stroke request types were designed, then it was time to get to the granular data they required. Their requests and preventative maintenance calls needed a very fine degree of detail. Plus, the old system had a log in for every person who used it to submit a request.

We solved that by creating six individual email addresses and accounts in Accela. Each location would now have a separate login; however multiple people might be submitting a request from that one location. To that end, we added an individual email field to each request type so when the Building Maintenance office received the request, they knew exactly who the individual was so they could email them back.

Managing specific request types

The specific request types they had were daunting to say the least with the amount of data in each. With Accela, were able to customize each request type using custom fields and meet each criteria the department required.

The department wanted the request types to be able to pinpoint exact information, which we were able to do with Accela. Request types were built in and then tested by the department personnel who used them daily. While they were testing them, I began the process of creating the preventative maintenance request types which were used totally internally by Building Maintenance personnel to keep track of reoccurring maintenance in all city buildings. This process took quite some time but again Accela proved to be the right format.

Rolling live

After testing was completed by the Building Maintenance staff, it was time to roll it out live to select locations. We put together detailed instructions on how to log into Accela and use the system to complete a request type. Each location was rolled out separately giving a day or two in between to address any issues. All in all, the rollout was a huge success.

Accela CRM is truly is a robust solution benefiting citizens and municipalities. By thinking outside the box and utilizing a product we already had inhouse, we were able to realize a savings of $42,000. As I wrote when we first rolled Accela out earlier this year, “The solutions Accela provides are limited only by the creativity and needs of the municipality using the program. From my perspective, Accela CRM is a highly recommended, customizable, flexible and state-of-the-art platform for municipalities of all sizes.”


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