We’re entering a new era — and for contractors, managing 811 tickets effectively has never been more important.
It’s shaping up to be a banner year for contractors. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has jump-started a trillion-dollar national excavation project that will spur the creation of tens of thousands of miles of new roads, bridges, cables, and pipelines, plus the undergrounding of thousands of miles of power lines.
But the flood of shovel-ready projects also brings big challenges — and nowhere is that more apparent than in America’s creaking 811 ticketing system. According to a survey by the Associated General Contractors (AGC):
- 73% of excavators see the 811 process as badly flawed
- 78% cite inaccurate locating by utilities as the weakest link
- 52% identify utility response times as a key problem.
For contractors, these failings bring project delays and cost overruns, and increase the risk of accidents. Unfortunately, it’s easier for utilities to blame excavators than to fix their processes. In fact, the Common Ground Alliance, an industry group funded by utilities, reports that the “vast majority of damages” can be blamed on excavator error.
Clearly, if the 811 system buckles in coming months, it will be excavators who get blamed for any resulting accidents or delays. That might be unfair, but it’s a reminder that when it comes to managing 811 tickets, excavators have no margin for error. Read on to learn five key ways that contractors can prepare for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law era, and lay the groundwork for safety and success in 2023.
Recommended Actions For Contractors
⚙️1. Put clear processes in place. With ticket volumes soaring, excavators can’t leave 811 processes in the hands of a single in-house expert. Instead, codify processes that enable efficient coordination between office staff and on-site workers. Clear workflows make it easier to train new arrivals — and to avoid issues if key team-members take vacation time, fall ill, or leave the company.
🤖2. Turn tech into a force multiplier. A construction boom sounds like good news — and it is! — but you need to give workers the tools to cope when 811 ticket volumes jump 50% or 100%. People don’t scale easily, and hiring has never been harder, so look for worksite-friendly digital solutions that help your team to stay on top of surging ticket volumes and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
🎫3. Use tickets to ensure accountability. Digital workflows offer visibility into what’s working and what isn’t, making it easier to elevate performance and identify potential failure points. The right ticketing infrastructure also surfaces issues with utilities and third parties, helping to ensure their shortcomings don’t lead to costly delays — and that their errors aren’t blamed on your team.
📋4. Stay on top of regulatory demands. With 811 processes varying by state and even by municipality, increased project volume makes it essential to stay on top of local rules and regulations. Make sure you know how dig laws vary by state, and look for a ticket management system that offers clear, localized guidance on what’s required for every single project you undertake.
📃5. Document your processes. Managing tickets responsibly isn’t enough — you also need to be able to prove that you did things right. If mistakes happen, you’ll need a clear digital trail (including photos) recording ticket requests, logging your team’s activities, and verifying that you provided prompt notifications of any damages.
The Bottom Line
While contractors aren’t to blame for the shortcomings of the 811 system, they can’t afford any slip-ups. They’re underserved by utilities and 811 center operators, and they’re also the easiest scapegoats when things go wrong.
That’s why it’s essential for excavators to lay the foundation for efficient 811 ticketing management today, so they can be ready for whatever tomorrow brings. At 811spotter, we’re building the robust digital ticket management solutions today’s excavators need — so get in touch, and let’s talk about how we can help you to stay ahead of the pack.