SPS has successfully designed and developed a web and mobile-based digitized vegetation management system for a large-scale vegetation management company. The system calculates and monitors on-ground crew performance in real-time and creates reports to track employee work status.
Asplundh Tree Expert LLC is an American company which specializes in tree pruning and vegetation management for utilities and government agencies. The company also performs utility line construction and maintenance, electrical systems testing, traffic signal and highway lighting construction and maintenance, automated metering infrastructure and home energy management program implementation.
For the last 30 years, Asplundh Tree Expert LLC had been using paper-based maps to assign and track vegetation management activities carried by its on-ground crews. With over 34,000 employees spread across 4 countries (US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), this paper-based mechanism made it difficult for Asplundh to employ a transparent and fool-proof solution for giving work assignments to its employees and update and track the crews. Similarly, there was no way for crew members on-ground to log their work status and report to their supervisors on daily basis.
The objective of VPA was to create a digitized vegetation management system allowing Asplundh administrators, bidders and surveyors to measure crew productivity, manage creation, submission and modification of bids, create surveys using computer vision, assign crews to surveys, make work assignments and generate reports on the progress of work and crew performances.
It was a tedious job to automate large paper-based maps into digital form. The team divided the system into two parts namely estimation and approximation and applied the divide and conquer strategy to manage the complexity of the system for best quality product delivery.
Given the very fresh concept of the project, a high level of uncertainty concerning the product features and the large scope of the project, there was no strict set of base-line requirements for the project for startup guidelines, which made it increasingly difficult to manage. The team managed to pull off an effective development strategy which resulted in positive work progress adopting the principles of agile software methodology.
Another challenge faced by the development team was the maintenance and handling of the complex graphical data which was to be used in the web (Google Maps) and mobile (Map box) apps. The team ultimately decided to use SQL server for backend and employed geometrical formulas to calculate various metrics within the system.
The technical team at SPS carefully iterated through the development of the project in an agile manner progressing through various stages of the system lifecycle starting with requirements specification, requirements analysis, system UI/UX design, development, testing, deployment and post-deployment maintenance. The team continuously re-iterates through this lifecycle to maintain system operation. The development is done adopting core principles of agile development including sprint planning meetings, daily stand up meetings and sprint review meetings some involving all project stakeholders while others involving the development team for discussions only.
The solution consists of two mobile apps and a web application and is divided into 3 modules,
Asplundh required a system that would store bid plans and work plans, track performance against the work plans, and allow the analysis of the financial and work performance on specific contracts. The estimation part consisted of the bid plan and the survey app whereas the production part consisted of the work plans and daily log apps. The reports module is a separate module that generates progress and crew productivity reports.
SPS is working with Asplundh continuously to maintain the system, which has been deployed and being used by the employees at Asplundh. Regular improvements are being made on the basis of customer feedback and quality assurance mechanisms to ensure maximum performance, efficiency and reliability of the system.