REAL-TIME DECISION SUPPORT
The relevant new feature of the GIS software lies within its capabilities. Geo-spatial data typically live in separate environments within Internet Map Servers, like ArcIMS® or integraph GeoMedia® or other compliant systems. Another type of map server is Google® or Bing® Maps, which is used with the proper licensing. All of these map servers have common interface specifications to retrieve and use this data. Engineering data can also be added to enable a real-time ability for tracking important changes in the planning phase.
When all the data is linked to the project database, a visual, thematic analysis ability becomes available. Thematic mapping is a process of connecting common data elements (the theme) within geographic data (the map). Thematic maps are generated in real-time once the first databases are configured. Themes are typically preconfigured and available to the user from a drop-down menu.
With a little training, the user can also add new spatial queries. These are built and executed in much the same way as asking important project management questions like, which properties have a survey in progress? Which have a finished survey? Where can we best use the available survey crew in southern Oklahoma? Do we need another title researcher in Arkansas to help us get caught up? What properties are in the process of closing? Which properties were acquired today? Are we paying more on properties in Creek County than in Lincoln County?
One key benefit of the GIS software is that the queries generate a visual way to discuss questions and give management a quick way to make key decisions. By using a number of colors and hatching combinations, the results are communicated efficiently. They can also be used to give executive-level reporting functions.
While working with the GIS program, new issues that arise can be quickly addressed with a point and click. For example, if there appears to be a problem property, a user can simply click on the parcel using the information tool, and the data associated with that property is instantly available. The ability to review documents, photographs, and even project journals is just a mouse-click away.
LONG-TERM COST SAVINGS
While the return on investment in technology can sometimes be difficult to measure, now you can save more than $4.2 million each year in right of way acquisition and management. This same customer can account for another $1.4 million in reduced training costs.
The time and resources involved with scanning and storing documents can create a significant burden on any project. Creating electronic documents and using digital signature ability is one way to decrease these costs. Better reporting can also improve project performance and decrease project timelines, translating to lower overall project cost. Standardized forms and processes can even cut legal and insurance costs.
Many benefits of the GIS software tool are directly clear, and there are others to consider, as well. With the graying of our industry, a significant amount of time and energy is spent on knowledge transfer. The time and costs associated with training new right of way people has been a longstanding challenge for the industry. Coupled with a shrinking workforce, the need to streamline and automate our processes has never been greater. Leveraging technology that will help capture the knowledge base of retiring people translates into reduced costs when it comes to training new staff.
Software solutions offer a significant long-term return on investment. Not only does the software streamline labor-intensive processes, it frees up staff time, reduces training costs offshore servers and generates ongoing efficiencies.
When you pay for servers dedicated specifically to your own business, it is almost like you are leasing an extension of your own computer network off-site. Your company has complete control of the entire software configuration of the server, from the operating system to the way the files are organized. Leasing a dedicated server requires a little more knowledge of how the servers work, but it is worth it if you want to be sure that all of the files on the server are yours.
Your Own Private Web Server
Once you purchase the servers dedicated to your business, you will have several decisions to make. You need to configure them to work with your operating system seamlessly. Usually the hosting company will allow you to link to your server remotely so that you can control all of the software from your desktop at your business site. Other software that you need to purchase and configure includes the operating system for the server, a control panel, and any e-commerce software that your company plans to use. Look for discounts on bundled software that may be available from some software companies.
You Control the Software Configuration
The software that runs your dedicated server is completely up to you and your IT department. Even if you purchase bundled software for the servers dedicated to running your website, you need to decide how the software should be put together. That is the main reason it is a good idea to have a software expert on your staff that can make the necessary configuration decisions so that your company's site is easy to operate. Look into all of the software that is supported by the dedicated web hosting company, and choose a system that fits into your business needs most easily.
The Managed Dedicated Server
If you plan to have a complex website that requires the flexibility of having servers dedicated solely to your files but you don't have any IT experts on your staff, you may want to use a managed dedicated server option. Managed dedicated servers offer all of the benefits of having the server to yourself, but they also offer assistance with the more complicated aspects of uploading and configuring a web server. Managed servers will cost more because you have to pay for the extra service from the hosting company, but the expense can be worth it for the control you will maintain of the server.
You Get What You Pay For
It is tempting to lease servers dedicated to your company's web files for the cheapest rate possible. There are many discount web hosts that offer unbelievable deals for their services. Be careful before you trust your valuable internet presence to a company that offers unusually low prices, though. The thing your company can't afford is for the site to be down all the time because the servers aren't reliable. An hour of down time can lose you hundreds of customers, and they will never visit your site again if it doesn't work the day they look at it the first time.