The timeless cliché that says, “you cannot teach an old foreman new tricks,” simply does not apply to Dawson Road Maintenance (DRM).

For the first several decades of road maintenance operations in B.C., everything was done with pencil and paper. Technology took an astounding leap forward when the pencil was ditched for the modern pen.

Now, DRM is one of the leading companies in the province when it comes to electronically logging information by their employees, sending and receiving data, detailing repairs and trip inspections, all thanks to ProntoForms and a very skilled team.

“The B.C Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) came out with new requirements for the way data and reports are collected and distributed. We had to respond in order to keep up,” said Brian Eshpeter, Director, IT for Dawson Group.

The first program Dawson tried didn’t stick and the team had to find a new solution. Then, in July 2020, they switched to ProntoForms and never looked back.

“It has everything you’ll ever want or need. I love the thing,” said Don Cameron, driver trainer and a leading ProntoForms instructor.

ProntoForms is an app used on company iPads by more than 350 DRM employees. The app provides a customizable, easy way to tailor electronic forms to what the company needs with rules, logic and specific parameters. Operators use ProntoForms to manage their timecards, complete road and bridge inspections and recently, information about pre-and post-trip inspections.

Previously, stacks of paperwork kept track of timecard information, road inspection reports and trip inspections. The way they were entered and stored made it difficult to organize and recover specific documents particularly when required to produce them for an outside organization, such as the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement or MoTI.

Now, with a few taps on an iPad, all of that information is easily filled out, stored and readily accessible.

“There certainly was a little apprehension when we decided to make the change nearly two years ago; change can be difficult and we understood why,” said Eshpeter. “We have a great team in place to help acclimate our staff to the new program, and through their support, feedback for continuous improvement, and even some patience through a few system hiccups, things now flow quite smoothly.”

Like most technologies, the learning curve has hit its share of snags along the way. Luckily the IT team and instructors are adaptable and capable of ironing out any wrinkle that presents itself.

“My rule is that there are no stupid questions. Everyone we hire, I help them learn the program. Doesn’t matter if they’re in their 20s, or a 70-year-old who has never used computers – I teach them the program the same way and I’d say that 85 – 90 per cent of them feel comfortable with the technology afterwards,” said Cameron, who has been with Dawson for 17 years. “I soak in all the comments, good or bad, and try to find ways to make this an easy process for everyone to understand.”

Everyone from foremen, to supervisors and MO1s to MO5s has their hands on ProntoForms each day.

The iPads alone provide DRM a major advantage. Now operators can easily check the weather in certain areas, follow GPS coordinates, stay up to date with Drive BC road conditions, along with taking and sending photos while on location.

The ability to quickly analyze and use the data is another major plus with ProntoForms. Supervisors, management and office staff will soon have a new system to use for reporting that will give them the ability to easily access, review and analyze the data for the required business insights.

 With this new program, Dawson continues to strive to find new ways to complete their work as productive and as efficiently as possible.