As employees of a mechanical/electrical engineering firm that specializes in designing solutions for the healthcare industry, Fitzemeyer & Tocci staff often visit hospitals and medical facilities as a regular part of a project lifecycle. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic — and in some cases because of it — our staff still need to make in-person visits to support our clients and partners.
Knowing that this virus can spread rapidly and undetected, our first concern was for the health and safety of our staff, clients, and partners. Prior to the state issuing a stay at home advisory, F&T had already begun to:
Eliminate all non-essential site visits
Recommend videoconferencing whenever possible
Require all site visits be approved by a principal and by the client
Source PPE to have available for staff making required site visits
Survey staff to understand who would be comfortable going to healthcare and non-healthcare facilities when necessary
Create a way to track all site visit activity.
Using Technology to Track Site Visits
In addition to making masks, gloves, safety glasses, and hand sanitizer available to staff, we also turned to our software for protection of a different kind. Thanks to our technology-forward leadership, we have been using Microsoft Office 365 to its fullest capacity for quite a while. One of the tools we use on a daily basis to track project deliverables and progress is Microsoft Planner. Using the same thinking, it was simple for us to adapt and create a planner board to track site visits.
Reasons for a site visit planner board:
With all staff working remotely, clear and consistent communication is more important than ever. The new Site Visit Planner board is a centralized communication hub. F&T leadership are easily aware of all visits being planned and they determine whether a trip is essential at that time or if it should be pushed out a week or two. Staff can see that the visit has been approved internally and by our client. The ability to add notes and link to other files made it easy to provide a hyperlink to a centralized list of protocols, restrictions, and PPE requirements that a facility has in place. And by keeping the cards even after visits have taken place, F&T has a record of who was at specific locations and when. In the event a positive test was to be reported from any facility, we can quickly determine if any of our staff were on site in the same timeframe.
How it works:
Each of our groups (Client Services, Technical Services, Commissioning, Construction Administration) has a “bucket” for any given week.
Every project has its own “card”
Site visits are written in as a line item task
When the visit is complete that task is checked off the list; the card either moves to the next on-site date or is moved to a “holding area”
All visits remain on the card so there is a record that is easily searchable
Each card also has a hyperlink to a SharePoint file that identifies all known client protocols, restrictions, and PPE requirements.
Information tracked on a card:
Project Name and Number
Date of meeting/visit
Purpose of the visit
F&T staff attending
Approval (internal and external)
F&T was able to shift seamlessly from workers primarily being in the office to 100% of staff working remotely thanks to our early adoption of Teams, SharePoint, Planner, and other O365 tools. The Site Visit Planner has increased our efficiency and effectiveness in communicating and establish a process to help maintain business continuity.
Tricia O Soulard