Spreadsheet Stress And Resource Strain
KAMO Power serves 17 member distribution cooperatives in northeast Oklahoma and southwest Missouri by providing safe, reliable, and low-cost electric power. In 2013, KAMO’s annual sales to its members exceeded 5 million megawatt hours, representing nearly 300,000 member owners. Project manager Tim Bagwell and his team had the daunting responsibility of keeping the power and telecommunications grid up and running. Allocating resources properly as customer issues flowed in, however, was proving to be a daunting challenge. Between these battles and his normal duties, Tim often found his time exahusted.
Yet despite these intense work management needs, KAMO’s tools for tracking projects and managing workflow were outdated and insufficient. Employees tracked their own individual jobs on Excel spreadsheets, with no centralized function for coordinating projects across teams or tasks, causing important details to slip through the cracks. The process was overly time- consuming as well, absorbing up to 12 hours a week with contacting people for information, entering data, and making project updates. Despite these efforts because of gaps in data and communication,, employees would often end up driving hours out of their way within their large territories to take care of last-minute jobs.
In an effort to share their data with the rest of the company, Tim and his team had to hold frequent meetings—sometimes as often as three times a week—to rehash and reevaluate priorities. This process created unnecessary stress, strained their available resources, and ultimately led to problems with employee retention. Clearly, a more effective work management system was desperately needed, and Tim set to work finding one.