June 17, 2019

Clean Water: How Mobile Apps Help Manage the Flow in the Field

Sebastian Csaszar

Clean Water: How Mobile Apps Help Manage the Flow in the Field

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #6 is to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all.  However, a World Health Organization/UNICEF report in 2017 found that 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services.  

Impact Water

In Uganda, for example, an estimated 61% of the population lacks access to safe drinking water and many of the country’s estimated 26,000 schools lack safe water for their students, according to Impact Water. The organization is helping address this problem by delivering cost-effective, safe drinking water to schools through the installation and maintenance of water purification systems that use UV and chlorine treatment.  

A user of TaroWorks’ field service mobile app, we recently visited Impact Water’s operations in Kampala, Uganda — as they prepare to launch a TaroWorks pilot with their Uganda field technicians.  We were able to see first-hand how the Impact Water management team is deploying TaroWorks and the Salesforce.com CRM and cloud database to help evaluate installation, maintenance and repair processes. The ultimate goal is to standardize those procedures across their three country offices – Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria.

Scaling Clean Water Operations

Impact Water has been ramping up purification unit installations (totaling 15,000 across Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria)  and securing partnerships like a recent agreement with National Bank in Kenya.  As Impact Water continues to scale clean water operations, the need for cleaner data and standardization of field processes, such as the installation of the water systems and the logging of maintenance and repair follow-up visits, is gaining greater importance.  

TaroWorks
Image: TaroWorks mobile field service app being used by Impact Water team to collect data. Source: TaroWorks.

Uganda Country Director, Julie Brown, says that “introducing a mobile app when you don’t have processes standardized across three offices makes things more challenging”.  However, Katrina Kalcic, Country Office Advisor for Impact Water said that working with TaroWorks from the outset “…provided the organization good introspection and a chance to think and reflect:  How should these field processes be built to accommodate the varying needs in each of the three countries we work in?”.  

Katrina mentioned going into the design of the field processes in TaroWorks with a top-down approach; however, she and the management team realized that a bottom-up approach incorporating the feedback of the actual users was the best way forward.

TaroWorks Helps Guide Installation and Maintenance

Julie and Katrina took me, Brent Chism, CEO of TaroWorks and Julie Strand, Senior Field Executive for Salesforce.org to see how they configured the TaroWorks mobile application to help their field technicians give step-by-step guides for proper installation of the clean water purification systems and make subsequent maintenance visits to the schools they serve in Uganda.  

We were able to see how John Baptist, a field technician for Impact Water, would engage a headmaster or the appropriate school administrator to unlock the Impact Water control panel next to the purification and pumping system. He’d then begin the maintenance check process using the TaroWorks mobile app and Salesforce cloud database and CRM.

Clean Water
Image: John Baptist of Impact Water discussing maintenance check-up with the administrator of Early Years Nursery and Daycare Centre in Kampala, Uganda. Source: TaroWorks

The questions in the TaroWorks data capture form help guide Baptist through the step-by-step maintenance process while capturing key information like logging a photograph of a slight drip from the tap. That observation will be marked as needing attention from the Impact Water team.   Baptist said using TaroWorks, “… has been easy…and makes my work more appetizing.”

Baptist went on to mention that TaroWorks makes him comfortable and gives him confidence because he is able to have the school administrator witness the work that he has done. He can even hand the tablet over to the administrator to acknowledge the visit with a notation in the TaroWorks app.

All of the data that Baptist collects with TaroWorks is directly synced to the Salesforce cloud database. This allows Uganda Country Director Julie Brown and her team to get better visibility into the status of the schools they serve. In cases where there is no connectivity, Baptist can still collect and store the data on his mobile device and then upload it to Salesforce when he’s within range of the Internet or a mobile data signal.  

Impact of Clean Water on Children

In addition to tracking clean water installations and maintenance as well as repair visits, Brown would eventually like to see her team using TaroWorks to standardize sales materials. There are plans to have sales agents use TaroWorks to show different promotional videos about the clean water systems to better engage prospective schools. Impact Water is also considering applying barcodes to the water purification systems and then using TaroWorks to scan the barcodes and display the relevant details surrounding each particular clean water setup.  

Clean Water
Image: Students at Tara Nursery and Primary school take turns getting clean drinking water from the Impact Water purification system. Source: TaroWorks

But for now, as they continue to make improvements and understand how best to meet the needs of each country office, the impact of clean water on the children in each school is the number one priority – a sentiment best summed up by Baptist:  



“When I do an installation, it’s like I am saving the people of Uganda…because they say children are the future leaders.  So when you give them good water now, they will have that brightness in class and they will be good people in the future”

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About the author...

Sebastian Csaszar

Sebastian Csaszar

Sebastian is responsible for driving expansion across Africa. Sebastian has over 7 years of business development experience ranging from corporate sports sales to real estate development sales. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Georgia. Sebastian also speaks both Hungarian and Spanish. Sebastian is based in Nairobi

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