Frequently Asked Questions

Software Usage

What are Varasset’s software components, and how do they work?

Varasset has two license levels:  Varasset XAM and Varasset for Joint Use.  XAM includes Varasset’s full work and asset management functionality, with the ability to add unlimited new asset types and workflows.  (Jeff to add detail)  Varasset for Joint Use includes a subset of the XAM functionality, allowing you to manage the full lifecycle of pole and underground asset joint use / joint ownership.

In addition to the two major licenses, Varasset has optional add-ons:

Communication Manager (CM) – Varasset’s externally-facing web portal component.  Designed to be installed on a secure web server to comply with your organization’s IT security policies, CM is intended for third-parties, such as construction contractors, joint use attachers or equipment colocators.  CM can be integrated with Esri or Google Maps to display a controlled subset of your asset data.  Third parties can select assets from the map and initiate permitting workflows, or communicate with your team about work activities.  Because CM uses your assets and your workflows, you no longer waste time trying to reconcile third-party asset records or manually re-entering data.  CM’s configurable workflows and automated notifications are securely integrated with Varasset’s core.

Integration Manager (IM) – Integration Manager is Varasset’s fully-featured REST API, which allows you to interface Varasset with other software platforms. 

How does Varasset manage work?

XAM supports the management of any type of work through configuration and deployment of parent-child relationships, workflows, and templates that exploit several key product features:

  • Hierarchical data architecture
  • Tickets (analogous to work requests in this context)
  • Work orders
  • Tasks
  • Status
  • Materials/labor/tools/equipment
  • Vendor and overhead costs
  • Estimates

All of these can be uniquely and specifically modified for each type of work, organizational unit, or other work breakdown characteristic. Configuration options can be focused by work type, work group, and secured to those specific definitions.

To support the complex work breakdown structure (WBS) needs of our customers, the Work Order, location, and asset records in XAM are hierarchical. It can support any number of levels within the structure to capture the detail necessary for large projects.

The Work Order structure can be associated to the Financial Project record which is typically interfaced to the customer’s enterprise financial system.

Tasks represent the detailed activities that need to be performed within the WBS.

Management critical attributes are configured to allow senior managers the insight needed to control cost, time, and distribute resources as demanded. Work can be broken down and controlled by budget function (capital, expense, etc.), total cost, labor pool (vendor, internal), work type (construction, repair, emergency, maintenance, etc.), priority, and nearly any category deemed important by management.

Document attachments, photos, and files of nearly any type can be attached and searched as part of the official record of the work order. Full text search of the entire application, automatic change logging for any data element, robust notification and queuing, all contribute to the supervisor/manager’s ability to quickly gain insight to the work being performed under his/her authority.

As-built quantities, labor hours, vendor costs, material costs (stock and vendor), consumables, tool/equipment costs/hours/cycles, task performance, permits, approvals, and all related work order data can be captured and stored directly in XAM—either through direct entry or by integration to third-party satellite systems used enterprise wide.

Dashboards, focused and secured to the need of the end-user can show status by priority, date, work-type, or nearly any other management attribute desired.

XAM can be configured such that nearly any data element is visible (or invisible) to the end-user, with changes able to be deployed to the appropriated user-groups immediately (without complication or lengthy deployment effort). Form modification, security, and deployment is simple, and fully able to be performed by the customer. This allows changes to be made quickly that allow each work group to respond to changing business requirements that often flow from legislative bodies or senior management initiatives.

How does Varasset help us access necessary file attachments?

XAM allows an unlimited number of file attachments to records of almost every type, including designs, photos, videos, work orders, tasks, assets, contracts, projects and inspection results. Our customers frequently compile a collection of designs and project coordination documents into a work packet, which is included with the work order as a group of attached files.

If the file is imported into XAM, the file contents are indexed, and become searchable via XAM’s built-in search tools.

XAM has an administrative function that will allow the administrator to set the maximum size for an attached file.

XAM can accommodate file attachments of any type. Via WebDAV, the attached files can be launched, edited and saved directly from the XAM attached file, by the third-party software application.

How does Varasset facilitate communication with third parties and contractors? Does it have messaging, and notifications?

XAM has a built-in graphical workflow designer, which is easily configured to send notifications based on an array of conditions. Conditions can include measurements/readings, durations, thresholds, milestones or other business characteristics, as defined by our customers.

One customer, operating in 30 US states, processed almost 5 million notifications in 2018.

How does Varasset handle the variety of utility billing needs?

Varasset records information needed for invoicing, and it can handle simple or complex billing requirements related to construction and maintenance. From simple time and materials to complex capital projects, Varasset records all the relevant information, and then transmits it to the financial/billing system, via a simple “push” or an interface, in the format that the financial system requires.

Please note, Varasset is not designed to be a financial software platform, nor a utility customer billing application.

Technology & Security

Security is a hot topic for our IT department. How does Varasset keep us secure?

Varasset has an ongoing initiative to continually improve both the security of our software product and our internal security protocols.  Our utility customers require us to comply with their stringent, evolving security and certification requirements.

Please contact us to ask about our ability to comply with your specific requirements.

Is Varasset hosted on the cloud? Can we install it on our own servers?

Varasset most often installed on our customers’ servers, inside your firewall. We work with your IT department to ensure full compliance with all your security protocols.

Some customers have chosen to implement Varasset on cloud-hosted servers, such as AWS and Azure, or in a colocation facility. Varasset supports this configuration. Our company does not offer cloud hosting services.

How do users access Varasset?

XAM is typically installed on the utility’s servers. The user interface is HTML5, compatible with any modern browser. (You could choose to implement this in your own cloud environment.)

In its base configuration, XAM users log into a browser window, but our customers have used several methods to implement single sign-on, including LDAP and SAML. XAM’s REST API is designed for secure integration with other databases.

XAM has configurable, role-based security, enforced at the row level. System administrators can create user accounts, assign permissions to roles, and change or deactivate accounts as needed.

Is Varasset a mobile work management tool?

Varasset is built on an HTML5 platform, allowing it to operate on any browser on any device when connected, including tablets and phones.

Varasset also offers an “integrate with your own mobile” philosophy, allowing our customers to utilize whichever mobile software and devices work best for their company (e.g., Esri Collector, Survey123, IkeGPS, Fulcrum, etc.). Our API was specifically designed to allow us to integrate with many different mobile platforms, as specified by our diverse array of customers.

Does Varasset interface with other systems?

Yes!

Varasset is specifically designed to integrate with other systems, and the Varasset team is very experienced in configuring interfaces. We offer a modern, public, REST API. We are an Esri partner and have interfaced with a wide variety of enterprise, GIS, and financial systems.

What are the reporting capabilities of Varasset?

XAM includes a variety of reporting, query, and search capabilities and features:

  • Configurable dashboards based on key performance indicators by role. Everyone sees the information most important to them, presented in visual format, which can include dynamic lists, charts, graphs, etc.
  • XAM includes “canned” reports. We teach your team how to build their own queries and reports within XAM, without IT assistance. If those reports are to be used repeatedly, it is very simple to save & share them within your organization.
  • XAM has a built-in reporting engine in which both templates & outputs can be in multiple formats, such as Word, Excel, HTML, and PDF.
  • XAM includes Excel-like filter/sort capabilities, as well as an import/export tool to both find and utilize your data.
  • XAM features “full text search” which allows you to search the entire database for keywords, including the contents of attached files of common file types.
  • “Filters” allow users to dynamically build queries on ANY field within the database with our easy to use interface. These Filters can be saved for re-use, shared with other users, and pinned to the user’s dashboard.

Services

How much does Varasset cost?

Varasset is typically sold as an enterprise site license.  The license and labor costs are determined by the size of your organization, your intended use, required interfaces, data migration and other factors that impact the effort needed to implement Varasset for your specific needs. Varasset offers more powerful toolsets, at a much lower price-point than the large, old-school enterprise software platforms.

Please contact us to discuss your needs and to learn more about our software.

Does Varasset offer field inspection crews or design/construction services?

No. Varasset is entirely focused on developing, implementing, integrating and improving our software. We don’t provide field or engineering services.  As a result, we have good working relationships with many field inspection, design, engineering and construction contractors, through our mutual clients.

Is your support 24x7x365?

Our standard support hours are 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific Time, but we have processes and notification tools to quickly respond after hours and on weekends to critical customer issues.

Do you offer training?

Yes. Our core training is focused primarily on Varasset user functionality and system administration. Additional scenario/process-based training can be provided based on the use cases produced in the analysis phase, and the test scripts. We typically encourage a train-the-trainer approach, to build Varasset training expertise inside the utility. In our experience, classroom training is more effective when co-presented by one of our trainers with one of yours. We bring the system expertise, and your designee brings the business process and policy knowledge.