In the daunting aftermath of disasters, recovery is not just a matter of mending what's broken—it's a complex project that demands meticulous planning, robust coordination, and timely execution.
The very nature of disaster recovery involves navigating unpredictable scenarios while ensuring communities can rebuild and thrive. At the heart of this is the pressing challenge of seamlessly connecting the back office with teams on the ground. As distributed teams become an intricate tangle of modern organizations, keeping everyone aligned, regardless of their location, becomes essential.
This sentiment was echoed by Donnie Burke, Project Manager at LEMOINE, at Empower. LEMOINE established a Disaster Services group to help communities that experienced catastrophes rebuild. Projects of this magnitude and importance, with so many moving parts, require the right partner. One that allows LEMOINE to see, connect, and control every detail of their projects.
During his Empower panel, Donnie shared how the company employs Quickbase to successfully manage disaster recovery projects all over the United States, including Louisiana, North Carolina, and New Jersey.
The stages of disaster recovery
Disaster recovery is a complex endeavor that involves several stages. Donnie walks us through what these stages are, what they entail, and the role Quickbase plays in ensuring they’re completed without hiccups.
The first stage is search and rescue, followed by debris monitoring. “That usually happens one to five days after a storm,” says Donnie.
Stage three is immediate response. Here, Donnie highlights the importance of staying compliant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.) The agency will reimburse the clients for damages caused by a disaster, but with specific requirements. “We use reporting to track that damage and this will give the client the ballpark for their repair estimates.”
The next phase is going to be damage assessments, and here Quickbase reporting also shines. At this point, there might be a couple hundred assessors in the field to evaluate the damage on a home. “When you have a large team out in the field and you're reporting to the program or to that municipality on a weekly or biweekly basis, you need to be able to report on a high level,” says Donnie. “So if you have a thousand homes out there, you need to quickly be able to determine and report how many you've completed, how many you have scheduled and create a timeline based on that long term recovery.”
Repairs can be anything from roof damage all the way to building an entirely new home, involving tons of subcontractors and dozens of projects. “We really need to be able to report on the phase of construction that each home is in. Upper management really needs that reporting because this is also where a lot of milestones are involved. So we are able to forecast expenses based on those milestones that happen in the different phases of construction.”
Disaster recovery: Connecting the field and the office
The reality we face today is multifaceted. On one hand, in-office professionals carry over their consumer-world expectations—of instant information, tailored applications, and flawless integration—into their work lives.
On the other, those at the frontline of disaster recovery, the field workers, grapple with unique challenges. Their tasks, ranging from on-the-spot assessments to relaying critical safety inspections, demand real-time connectivity with the central hub. They require tools that allow them to share information swiftly, without the hurdles of manual data entry or protracted coordination, letting them refocus on their field duties.
This is where Quickbase delivered for LEMOINE.
Workforce management with Quickbase
Disaster relief projects require a large labor force, and massive work on large campuses to get them back in order. LEMOINE leans on Quickbase and its partner, Juiced Technologies, to simplify and streamline workforce management.
Quickbase and Juiced Technologies have been especially helpful in the clocking-in and out process for laborers. “I was able to bring this process down from an hour and ten minutes to about 15 minutes for every 100 laborers,” says Donnie.
“Using a handheld scanner and a tablet, or a computer, or a phone, we're able to quickly scan a full labor team within a matter of minutes so that they can move on with the day. And that time is money. That's an hour of lots of skilled labor wasted just waiting for these guys to be able to clock in and clock out.”
Donnie is particularly fond of the Quickbase app’s offline capabilities. “Right after that storm, there's not going to be power, no Wi-Fi. Even mobile data is flimsy. Despite that, once you finally do connect to Wi-Fi, the mobile app is going to sync all those records. And then from that point, you use a pipeline to send those records or copy those records wherever you like.”
Donnie’s team also wanted to keep things simple for the construction crews in the field if they moved around between jobs. “I created a master crew member app, and that master crew list has a pipeline that will copy each person to every job. And if there's a new guy that shows up to any job, the pipelines will also copy those crew members up to the master list. Then the master list will in turn copy them down to all the rest of the jobs.”
“Once all your labor hours are tracked, these guys just come in on a tablet, they click the sign off button, and using a stylus or their finger they can sign out of the job every day,” adds Donnie.
“That's also part of that FEMA compliance. Not only do we need to track which job these laborers are on, but within a job site. So they are going to have to clock in and clock out of, say, the gymnasium as they move on to the cafeteria. They can clock in and clock out at several locations per day. Quickbase made it really easy for us to track that and for our accounting department to bill and pay our laborers,” says Donnie.
In the landscape of disaster recovery, Quickbase emerges as a beacon of connectivity and efficiency. Through its innovative solutions, it bridges the gap between back offices and field teams, ensuring that even in the face of adversity, information flows smoothly and communities rebuild stronger.