December 12, 2012 by Greg Meckbach, Associate Editor
FirstOnSite Restoration announced Wednesday it has developed its own software designed to let project managers compile site reports of damaged properties and generate electronic records for claims adjusters, plus work orders for construction and repair crews.
The Mississauga, Ont.-based firm wrote its own program, which it calls mobileCT, using developer tools from Microsoft Corp., including Visual Studio, ASP.NET and .NET Framework.
The firm opted to develop its software in house rather than buy commercial off-the-shelf software.
“There are bits and pieces of solutions which you can put together, but we’re dealing with security and privacy issues,” FirstOnSite chief operating officer Bruce Derraugh said in an interview with Canadian Underwriter. “We’re not just going to be running it off someone’s laptop or an iPad.”
FirstOnSite, which cleans up and repairs properties after catastrophes, floods and fires, also does a variety of construction services, such as environmental and mold remediation. The firm has more than 1,100 employees in 45 Canadian branches, with more than 100 project managers assessing damage on insured properties.
In the past, Derraugh said, the process was manual, so when a project manager visited a damaged property, the initial report would be on paper.
“The photos would be done on a digital camera, the sketch probably was done on a piece of paper,” he said. “All of that information would be brought into the office and it would then be input into our system.”
After that, he said, FirstOnSite staff would then have to enter the data into XactAnalysis, a property claims analytical and reporting software product made by Orem, Utah-based XactAnalysis.
“The photos would have to be uploaded, the sketch would have to be created, and that would take a couple of days in order to provide that initial site report,” he said.
But now, with mobileCT, the project manager can generate both a report for the insurance carrier and a work order the same day.
“You’re on the site, you know that you’re going to need 20 pieces of equipment, and you’re going to need this, this and this,” he said. “That work order is automatically sent to the office, so the production crews that are coming to do the work, they know exactly what they need to do, they need to know what carpet, what floors what drywall needs to be removed, whatever those things are, that’s also done at the same time.”
The project manager can compile all of that information and create a file in portable document format (PDF), and then send it over a WiFi or third-generation (3G) cellular wireless network. Although the project manager needs to use a Windows device, the insurance claims adjuster receiving the report does not.
“The adjuster is just looking at that information based on a PDF, so they can look at it on any device that can read a PDF,” he said. “Without actually looking at the loss itself, [adjusters] are going to get a good view of the loss, the photos, everything is integrated into the package and that’s really the initiation of the claim.”
The first version of mobileCT is used at all of the firm’s branches and FirstOnSite staff are currently gathering information from clients to develop a second version.