GIS-Based Management Solutions: Your "Easy Button"Justin Gough, president, NovotX LLC, Clearfield, Utah

In a memorable episode of The Simpsons, Homer is hired to design the car of his dreams. He ends up with a "monstrosity"—while it has horns that play "La Cucaracha" and a cupholder big enough to fit a supersize Squishee, the vehicle is ugly, unwieldy, and loaded up with so many options that the "average Joe" it's geared toward could never afford the darned thing.

According to Gough, this is similar to the trap many PW departments looking for a GIS-based asset management system fall into—they load up with so many bells and whistles that it becomes a budget buster that's too complicated for employees to use, and doesn't deliver anything that meets the agency's needs.

"Less is more with an asset management package," says Gough.

Before you get started, you need to figure out how much data you really need to track (i.e. service requests, work orders, inventory management, calls, and billing/accounting) and what you need to do with that information. Knowing that much will point you in the right direction.

When choosing a management system, Gough says, there are advantages and disadvantages to both options—buying off-the-shelf software or building your own. Buying pre-made may be more quickly implemented but pricey. Constructing a system yourself can get you exactly what you want, but it's very labor intensive.

For more information, visit Gough's Web site at www.novotx.com, or view the APWA proceedings at www.apwa.net.