The pressures of the pandemic are forcing organizations to respond quickly and adapt to the seemingly ever-changing circumstances that are impacting our day-to-day lives.
At RS&H, these pressures represented an opportunity to push some creative boundaries in an attempt to safeguard the health of our associates and advance future opportunities for business growth.
Like countless companies across the country, RS&H opted to close all of its offices in the early days of the pandemic, transitioning associates to a work-from-home environment on March 17. It was a far-reaching decision that was necessary at the time, but as the U.S. has evolved throughout the pandemic, it’s been apparent that the degree of severity of COVID-19 outbreaks ebb and flow over time and vary from place to place.
“One of the things we started to give thought to is that the conditions are so different from one part of the country to another, and we realized we needed something else to aid our network of office leaders,” said RS&H Executive Vice President John Bottaro. “We needed a program to help us make some data-driven decisions on whether we should stay closed or re-open.”
Using Data as a Tool
Bottaro’s call to action led to an innovative development process that took on the pacing of a sprint, pulling together key individuals from RS&H’s IT teams, as well as representatives from our business services groups. In less than four days, this team had crafted a new internal dashboard that pulled data from various sources, yielding reliable information to better equip the company’s leadership in its decision-making process.
This re-integration dashboard is crafted to be a more precise tool in a broader toolkit that RS&H’s executive team and office leaders can use to closely monitor new case trends and test positivity rates. It allows them to hone in on individual locations and review up-to-date data from each office’s surrounding area, giving them an accurate depiction of COVID-19 activity in a particular portion of the company’s footprint.
As such, they can more effectively navigate the challenges associated with reopening offices in the face of the pandemic.
Tapping into New Capabilities
Built on the Power BI platform, the program rapidly processes thousands of pieces of data and converts them into easy-to-use interfaces at the dashboard. Office leaders are able to monitor case trends in specific regions, review charts to measure the outbreak spikes and see what offices are open or closed.
The dashboard is constantly evolving, updating metrics to meet the needs of leaders throughout the company.
“As time went on, we realized the metric for something like total cases became less meaningful,” Bottaro said. “Every day you’re getting more total cases, so really it’s the new cases that we’re most concerned about. We changed some of the metrics so we could go from total cases per 100,000 to new cases per 100,000 to give us a better perspective.”
In addition, the graphical representation of the data and table summaries provides a straightforward, easy to interpret format of information for associates when sharing in staff meetings or officewide re-integration updates.
“The dashboard and subsequent enhancements have allowed the concise status of case data associated with COVID-19,” said RS&H Vice President and Orlando Office Leader Edward Gonzalez, PE. “Using this information for discussion with the re-integration team has assisted us in planning as well as adjusting our approach to re-integration of the Orlando Office to limit risk and ensure the safety of associates.”
Unlocking New Doors to Growth
It also opens up new avenues of potential growth for RS&H. The premise behind the re-integration dashboard is simply taking several streams of available data and then converting them into easy-to-understand content and graphics for the end user. While this project focuses on COVID-19, future work could take other forms and provide inherent value for several clients.
“One of the things, prior to COVID-19, we realized as we worked through a deliberate strategic planning process is that data analytics is a huge piece of our business that right now is untapped, not just by us but by most of the industry,” said Bottaro. “There is so much data available out there that is kept in accessible, national databases, particularly for our governmental clients like DOTs and airport authorities that we could use to aid our clients.”
There are several ways to develop and deploy this type of service.
Airport terminals, for instance, are dealing with the ongoing economic crunch of lower passenger counts. A data-driven approach to measuring something like the daily energy consumption of a terminal would enable it to see its existing costs, compare those costs with airports of similar scope and size, and then identify practical solutions to lower those costs and save money.
“We all realized we created something here outside of our core business,” Bottaro said. “But you start thinking that if we have that kind of creativity and that kind of ability to bring this all together, just think about the potential with our project-related work. We can use this to take the next steps with our clients.”
Learn more ways your organization can stay resilient during COVID-19.