The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is responsible for managing the creation and maintenance of transportation infrastructure within Utah. This is a monumental task, and UDOT leverages contractors (and subcontractors) to delegate work and expertise. The legacy software application Project Explorer for contractor management is outdated, difficult to maintain, not mobile-friendly, lacking workflows, and the ability to run reporting/analytics.
UDOT seeks to address these limitations by refining their core processes of contractor and project management by implementing a modern web application to optimize these processes.
Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is partnering with SpringML to define the foundational architecture of their Google Cloud environment. As part of their overall cloud strategy, UDOT is seeking professional services to identify key security requirements, to increase confidence levels when designing and operating sensitive workloads for Google Cloud, and to gain an understanding of how Google Professional Services can help implement specific requirements.
In the context of this engagement, Google will provide UDOT with a Google Cloud Platform environment to start the deployment of the Contractor Zone application. This application will enable UDOT to publish road/infrastructure construction projects and to allow further project management including interaction with contractors, contractor bidding, and contract signing.
A major concern of the current systems revolves around usability. Contractors spend a large amount of time navigating the fragmented applications that compose the project lifecycle. UDOT currently provides day-long training sessions to educate contractors on how to use the system. Much of the training is on how to get the systems to communicate with each other and ultimately is centered around inefficiencies with the current system. Often the construction projects are complex and cannot be completed by just a single contractor. An example is prime (top-level) contractors need methods of identifying and contracting with appropriate subcontractors (sub) that report to the prime or sub above them.
Additionally, subcontractors may not want to manage the whole project, but rather only provide services in their area of expertise. Also, subcontractors may want to further subcontract to complete the work. This tree-like structure means the prime is not a sub, and a sub has only one contractor above them, but a sub can have 0 or more subs that report to them. Manually structuring this hierarchy is tedious and time consuming. Payment for services flows down this tree structure. Each contractor (whether prime or sub) has 30 days to pay their subcontractors. Once that payment is received, another 30-day deadline is started to pay further subs and so on.
Currently, there is little visibility into where payments are in this cascading process which leads to frustration by subs and increased communication and administrative tasks for UDOT.
SpringML will build an online portal for the contractors (including prime and subcontractors) to browse/search available projects, bid on a project, be accepted or rejected, sign a contract, and submit payments for services rendered. Contractors will be able to sign-up on the online portal. The authentication system will be backed by the Utah ID system and support MFA (multi-factor authentication). Contractors must then provide information regarding their company and the owner(s). Additionally, contractors can mark if they are a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE). UDOT will later review DBE documentation. Once the contractor’s necessary information is provided, their application will be sent to a queue for approval by UDOT Admins. Admins will post projects and relevant information and documents to the online portal. Admins will have the ability to build dynamic forms that contain validation, document upload, and e-signature(integration with Adobe Sign) capabilities. Admins can clone and modify existing projects to decrease the time to create a new project. UDOT admins will also be able to set key project dates such as project listing date, bidding deadline, dates of informational meetings, etc.
Behind the scenes
The contractor web portal will host the list of available projects and their associated data. Contractors will be able to browse, search, and filter these listings to identify jobs relevant to them (e.g. area of expertise, location, scale, pay, etc). When a project is selected, a drill down detailed view will be shown and contractors will have the opportunity to indicate their intention to bid and whether they would be prime or a sub. Contractors that express interest in a project will be added to pre-project informational meetings (via Google Meet). Contractors will also be able to subscribe to jobs alerts; this can either be by new jobs that match a set of search criteria or by updates to a specific project. The portal will also facilitate the matching of prime and subcontractors. Contractors that are looking for subs will be able to see those that have expressed interest as well as those that match filters related to the project type.
After UDOT has reviewed all bid submissions and is ready to award a prime contractor, they will leverage the existing Masterworks system. An award and contract will be generated and sent for signatures. During the project’s execution, contractors will be able to log in to the portal to see the project status, upload documentation verifying their work, and submit for payments. Contractors will see summary information about the project’s status, their payments, and any upcoming events. Contractors will be able to add additional subs at any time during the contract.
As usability is a key motive for this rewrite, the application will be instrumented with Google Analytics. This will allow insight into user behavior and where usability issues exist. Several conversion funnels will be set up tracking key user journeys.
These optimized processes aim to yield the following benefits:
- A more accessible, mobile-friendly interface for both UDOT administrators and for project contractors
- This will be verified through the instrumentation and measurement with Google Analytics on the site
- High-availability of the application leveraging multi-zonal App Engine and Cloud SQL deployment models
- Powerful and flexible analytics with full access to the application data and Google Analytics data in BigQuery and through Data Studio
- Reduced infrastructure administration costs and time
- Improved visibility for contractors on project status, which will result in less time by UDOT administrators answering questions
SpringML has developed a close partnership with UDOT and has expanded this one-phase project into a multiple-phase platform that will become the new hub for all UDOT-related workflows.
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