The University of Wolverhampton is spread across three main campuses in the West Midlands, Shropshire and Staffordshire. The University delivers over 500 undergraduate and postgraduate courses to around 20,000 students by 18 schools and institutes at locations in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Telford.
With diverse range of teams spread across its three main campuses, the University’s central facilities function faced a host of challenges in terms of administration and management. Furthermore, ongoing cost pressures and budget constraints meant it was necessary to maximise the performance of available resources at all times to achieve the highest levels of productivity possible.
Operational issues included:
- Employee performance management across multiple cost centres
- Monitoring staff attendance, managing resource planning and maintaining records
- Ensuring health and safety inspections are completed with easy access to records
- Efficient capturing of audits and management of the paperwork generated
- Capturing and management of incident details across multiple sites
- Managing and storing the large amount of paper forms generated
- Protecting lone workers working within the facilities management team
In particular, the University was in the process of expanding its communications rota to incorporate five reception desks, four of which were new, and a central switch room. Each was operated from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, using a team of 19 employees. All staff planning had to factor in a wide range working constraints including Morning or Afternoon shifts only, split weeks and restrictions based on health reasons, as well as maximum 3.5 hour shift for an individual member of staff to work on anyone shift. With such complex parameters, it quickly became clear that it was not possible to schedule the team using a paper-based, manual process.
The University selected SmartTask, the easy-to-use employee scheduling and mobile workforce management solution, to overcome the scheduling difficulties it faced for its communications rota. SmartTask has been developed to provide facilities and estates managers with the tools they need to performance manage staff and improve employee accountability across the campus.
While trialling SmartTask, it quickly became clear that the system could support a wide range of applications that would provide effective visibility and control across the University’s campus operations and estate management. In fact, the flexibility of SmartTask has enable the University to implement a phased roll-out in-line with resource, time and funding availability within the central facilities team.
“We are committed continuous improvement within campus operations and estate management to provide high levels of service to students in the most cost effective way possible. We simply would not have been able to achieve our objective without SmartTask, which has already become an essential management tool within our operation.”
Sandy Shaw, Campus Operations Manager, Estates and Facilities
As a result, SmartTask is helping support static-and demand-based resourcing to ensure that reception desks, security, caretaking and cleaning resources are optimally planned. Proof of attendance monitoring is also enabling the central team can track any missed shifts with KPI analysis for employee performance management.
Meanwhile, integrated inspections, incident reporting and smart forms is simplifying and streamlining a wide range of auditing process, risk assessments and compliance checks. This is not only vastly reducing administrative time and effort in terms of storage, retrieval and reporting of information, but also allowing the central team to quickly identify problem areas, ensuring they are quickly reviewed and actioned by the appropriate department.
SmartTask is also helping with lone worker protection, enabling proactive and reactive support of vulnerable staff across each campus, while integrated checks are making sure supervisory teams and following the desired process to achieve high levels of security and safety.
“SmartTask is helping us take control of our remote teams, making sure they are operating safely in accordance with our precise operational requirements. As a result, we are delivering higher levels of compliant service by making the most of our FM teams, while streamlining administrative and management processes to target cost, time and resource efficiencies.”
Sandy Shaw, Campus Operations Manager, Estates and Facilities
SMARTTASK IN ACTION
The University is using SmartTask’s Intelligent Rostering capabilities to effectively schedule the 19-strong team in the most efficient manner, using a unique workflow algorithm to identify suitable staff based on availability, holidays, historical shift patterns and exact job requirements. Rosters are provided the Thursday before either via email or through the MySmartTask app, which staff can download to their personal smartphones. Moving forward, the university plans to supply rosters a month in advance, which can be updated where necessary and confirmed the week before based on any unexpected changes to staff availability and circumstances.
Meanwhile, the University is using SmartTask to monitor proof of attendance to quickly identify and address any issues at each location. Employees book on and off shifts using an interactive voice response (IVR) call system, which captures start and stop times, along with working hours. Not only does this allow the university to track schedules against actual performance – including levels of lateness, sick leave and other absences – but also have real-time visibility of any missed shifts or staffing shortages. In particular, the location manager receives an email alert if any employee is over 20 minutes late starting their shift, so corrective action can be taken.
As parcels are received into the university they are scanned into the mailroom using SmartTask POD on a TC55 device from Zebra Technologies. Staff and students collecting parcels sign for them on the device, all this data is uploaded wirelessly to the cloud-based system, providing an electronic audit trail in the event a parcel is reported missing. This helps the facilities team to locate packages quickly and efficiently helping reduce the admin overhead of proving whether a parcel has been received or not.
A team of 30 caretakers are coordinated from a central student office to ensure that 1,400 rooms at halls of residence located across the three campuses are inspected before and after occupation. Previously organised manually using a paper-based system, the university wanted to simplify the process, removing any mistakes and inaccuracies.
Caretakers are provided with an inspection task list as they begin their shift by the student office via SmartTask, based on when rooms become vacant. They use electronic forms to record any damage or faults, using the smartphone’s camera to capture supporting images. Currently 250 rooms have been fitted with RFID tags, with plans to roll out to all rooms across the three campuses, so caretakers can scan with the smartphone to provide proof that the inspection has taken place. Moreover, it is also possible to store data on the tag, so the caretaker is aware of important information about the status and upkeep of the room.
Not only is SmartTask streamlining the halls auditing, but also simplifying the appeals process when students challenge any charges for damage. Students have up to five years to contest a financial penalty, which previously created a significant administrative burden in terms of time, cost and storage space. With SmartTask, all information is stored electronically and can be accessed in seconds with the appropriate audit trail and supporting images. As a result, The University is reducing the number of false challenges, while reducing pressure on the central student office.
The caretakers are also responsible for undertaking weekly checks on all public spaces within the halls of residence including kitchens, storage areas, corridors and car parks. Around 50 areas are currently monitored, so it is now possible to use SmartTask to confirm when a check has taken place and complete an electronic form to raise any issue.
A team of 16 in-house day cleaners are issued with NFC-enabled smartphones at the beginning of each shift, scanning start and end times using personal log-in cards to confirm attendance. This helps to quickly identify any missed shifts, so alternative arrangements can be made, while providing an accurate record of working hours for operational reporting and payroll.
Using the smartphones to access SmartTask, cleaners can then view an electronic list of their work schedule. RFID tags have been installed at 180 toilet facilities across three campuses, with plans to roll-out to a further 200. Cleaners simply have to scan the smartphone over the tags at each location to register the completion of work, so the central facilities team has immediate visibility of progress and identify any areas of underperformance.
Meanwhile, supervisors are using electronic forms via SmartTask to undertake work audits and a number of checks. This includes chemical checks at all store rooms in line with Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.
The COSHH risk assessment is required by law for the possession or use of hazardous chemicals, which must be completed before work begins and prior to a chemical being brought into a university. SmartTask is enabling the capture and storage of critical information electronically, replacing an inefficient paper-based systems and providing immediate access to historical data.
The University’s security team is currently using SmartTask to simplify its reporting processes. As a result, supervisors and officers are using electronic forms for a range of audits, such as car parks and other public areas, along with equipment checks.
In particular, officers are required to inspect twelve defibrillators as part of health and safety regulations, so RFID tags placed on the equipment are used to monitor legal compliance. The weekly inspection includes a dedicated incident report, which enables officers to alert the appropriate task coordinator of any problem involving a defibrillators with an automated email notification.
Business Intelligence & Operational Insight
Due to the electronic nature of SmartTask, the central facilities team is able to gain an accurate view of all activity through its advanced reporting capabilities. Therefore, the University is taking advantage of a range of user, financial and executive reports to analyse performance and provide essential information to stakeholders, maintaining complete operational transparency and accountability. Data is also uploaded to other back office systems including billing and payroll, saving time and eliminating mistakes as a result of manual input.
Meanwhile, SmartTask is helping put in place consistent management KPI’s as well as providing a means of gathering the data by which they can be measured. This is simplifying evidence-based employee performance management, while making it possible compare and contrast different teams by location or service to identify inefficiencies or areas of improvement.