HOQUIAM–No one asked Zack Jones to build a system that would change the way we work. We didn’t even know it could be done. But thanks to our Rayonier culture, which encourages employees to challenge the status quo and seek new ways to solve problems, no one got in the way when he decided to try.
Zack, the Manager of Forestry Systems on our IT team, took the initiative to build a real-time reporting tool that’s become a game-changer for the forestry team. He saw the need within the organization for better reporting and visualization around the company’s mobile land management software system and he did something about it.
Zack Explains What Sparked The Inspiration For This New Tool
“We needed a good interface to give the employees on the ground their reports,” Zack explains. “I was working on the mobile load project, where we were updating from old handheld devices to iPads, and I realized the end-users had to go to the website, type in a query, and go to the bottom of the site to see how many loads they’d have to run for the day.
“The old handheld devices didn’t sync as often and the load data wasn’t updated in real-time, so they’d have to check back late in the day. So, they’d get the load count, destination and products, but it was cumbersome to use and hard to visualize—and that’s where the power of charts come in.”
Zack realized he could easily fix the issue by using visualization software to organize the data into a real-time, intuitive and user-friendly interface.
“We’re still using the exact same data the website had,” he says, “but this system allows you to filter it by products, mill, contractor, sale, mill quotas, date ranges for the day, week, month or year, etc. from your PC, smartphone or iPad and shows you the data in easy-to-read charts and graphs.”
Plus, It Lets Departments Set Custom Alerts
Zack explains: “For example, you can build an alert so members on your team can see when there’s a voided ticket or set notifications for quotas so everyone receives an email once that quota has been met.”
The app updates live and, since it’s cloud-based, it reduces the load on the servers.
“It’s very interactive and you don’t have to wait for results or wait until you get to the office to view the information.”
The main benefits:
● It saves tons of time by allowing users to access information in-the-field in real-time
● It helps the sales and marketing team on the mill side to better negotiate prices
● It gives a better understanding of where loggers are with current production
● And it’s incredibly affordable
Who Is Benefitting From The New Tool?
Since its inception, the app has gone from about 40 users to over 120. It has become a major efficiency tool for on-the-ground employees who manage contractors, loggers, mill negotiators and marketing and sales teams.
“I think this is a really good example of people being able to do what they do best,” says Pacific Resource Unit Leader Bill Monahan. “Here you have a situation where Zack, on his own initiative, went out and used this software to design a really cool tool the foresters really use. But what’s really cool is the compliance foresters and timber marketing managers can look at this data any time they want throughout the day, and I just think it's awesome.
Senior Accounting Manager Kevin Leep agrees: “It’s really impressive to see somebody like Zack, who had a passion for something, did some study, and the way people responded to it was very gratifying. He didn’t have to do that, but he still did, and it indicates the kind of people we have working at Rayonier.”
“I use it all day every day," says Senior Timber Marketing Manager Dan Stransky. “It’s such a powerful tool to be able to click on and see at-a-glance exactly what you need.”
“Zack is a person who’s always going out of his way to make things better, to help people do their jobs better and to anticipate things people may not even realize they need,” says IT Director Adam Brown.
How Zack Found Rayonier and What He Loves Most About His Career
As fate would have it, Zack grew up in Montesano, Washington, about 10 miles from Rayonier’s Hoquiam office. He attended the local community college, got his degree in GIS and started with Rayonier as a GIS technician.
Throughout the years, he moved up through managing data in the GIS group and moved into IT, where he now works as Manager of Forestry Systems.
When asked what he loves most about his job, he says: “They treat me really well and I enjoy what I do.I love being able to manage and work on the systems that help people and the business. It’s a flexible job that works well for my family. Plus, my wife and I are both from Washington state and enjoy the lifestyle here with our children.”
Recognition for a Job Well-Done
Zack was recognized with an award for fostering continuous learning, innovation and creativity.
“I was thrilled and surprised by how useful people feel it’s been to them,” Zack says. “It’s truly one of the fastest tools I’ve ever built! But it’s impressive what you can build to help fulfill a need, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. It’s a great tool.”