Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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PUD Showcase

Meet James Robbins

Project Manager
Employee of the Month for January

Employee of the Month

What makes Work and Asset Management Project Manager James Robbins such a worthy Employee of the Month for January? Well, it all comes down to assets!

James developed a tool that has greatly improved the PUD’s ability to identify and manage assets such as poles, wire, and equipment during the work order close-out process. Prior to development of the aptly named Asset Tool, most designers and engineers had to pull a report of all materials issued for the work order, determine what was or wasn’t an asset, then manually calculate each asset’s associated costs. This time-consuming and manual process left plenty of room for error.

The Asset Tool allows work order assets to be reported more quickly and accurately. Work order materials are copied and pasted into the tool, which automatically recognizes and indicates assets. Every asset is assigned a baseline percentage of its contributing costs for each job and a Finance asset classification (retirement unit) number is populated. All of this information combined allows Accounting to report assets properly in SAP.

Payroll Accountant and former Area Operations Accounting Analyst (AOAA) Kirsten McCarthy and AOAA April Sullivan have seen the benefits of James’s efforts first-hand.

“Prior to the Asset Tool, some assets on work orders were not being properly reported because they weren’t being recognized. This tool has led to more accurate reporting of assets in the field,” Kirsten and April wrote on James’s nomination for EOM. “This is also helpful to the PUD’s credit rating because having projects sit in a work-in-process status for long periods makes it appear that the PUD starts projects it can’t finish.”

Along with his enthusiasm for process improvements, James is appreciated for his positive attitude and generous spirit when helping co-workers.

“He always reminds us to reach out when we’re struggling. James also offers training to everyone at the PUD who would like to learn more about the work-order process,” wrote April and Kirsten. “He’s always available in spite of his demanding workload.”

That workload includes future process improvements. James is working on an automation process that would involve uploading the Asset Tool directly into SAP work orders, allowing end-users to close out their own work orders. This would most likely further speed up the closing process and enhance accuracy as work orders would be closed as soon as a project was complete.

“Part of what makes James so special is these are not isolated stories,” said Tim Epp, Work and Asset Management Senior Manager. “James is always thinking of ways to make processes easier and more efficient. He doesn’t just think about them from one group’s perspective, he reaches out to other teams to ensure improvements work better for everyone. This benefits the PUD as a whole, and our customers too."

Recent Awards

  • Hydropower Award (2019)
    The National Hydropower Association (NHA) honored the PUD as one of its 2019 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters for Operational Excellence. The national award recognizes the PUD's recently completed Water Temperature Conditioning Project at Culmback Dam, designed to improve the habitat for salmon and other aquatic life in the Sultan River downstream of the Spada Lake Reservoir
  • Hydropower Award (2017)
    The National Hydropower Association honored the PUD with a 2017 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters award for its success in providing access to additional fish habitat in the Sultan River Basin, site of the PUD’s Jackson Hydroelectric Project. In late 2016, the PUD opened up six miles of additional fish habitat on the Sultan River by modifying a diversion dam on the upper reach of the river. Within weeks of the project’s completion, coho salmon were detected upstream – for the first time in nearly 100 years!

To see more awards, click here.