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The University of Wolverhampton has transformed the way it manages its estates and facilities operation using employee scheduling and remote workforce management solution SmartTask. The implementation of consistent performance management processes across the University’s reception desk, security, caretaking and cleaning teams has improved the quality of service delivery by 15 per cent, with further gains expected as the software is embedded into operating procedures.

The University initially selected SmartTask to overcome the scheduling difficulties it faced for its communications rota, but following a successful trial it became clear that the system could provide effective visibility and control across the campus operations and estate management. SmartTask is now being used for rota planning, proof of attendance, operational reporting and electronic auditing, which is enabling the University to better performance manage staff and improve employee accountability across three main campus sites.

SmartTask’s Intelligent Rostering capabilities is being used 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 were initially provided the Thursday before either via email or through the MySmartTask app, which staff can download to their personal smartphones. However, the University has now been able to move to monthly rosters to further improve staff visibility of schedules, with any updates confirmed the week before to factor in unexpected changes to staff availability and circumstances.

Meanwhile, a team of caretakers and coordinators are managed from the central student office to ensure that 1,400 rooms at halls of residence located at 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. With the adoption of SmartTask, the productivity of the caretaking team has improved by 20 per cent and there has been more than a 70 per cent increase in the accuracy of data capture.

The two-part process at the end of occupancy begins with coordinators using SmartTask’s electronic forms to record any damage that will need to be reimbursed by a student as well as any wear and tear that requires repair or updating. This is followed by a detailed inspection, undertaken by a team of 30 caretakers, who are provided with a comprehensive task list as they begin their shift by the student office via SmartTask, based on when rooms become vacant. All rooms across the three campuses have been fitted with RFID tags, so caretakers can scan with the smartphone to provide proof that the inspection has taken place.

Elsewhere, a team of 25 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. Using the smartphones to access SmartTask, cleaners can then view an electronic list of their work schedule. RFID tags have been installed at 380 toilet facilities across three campuses, so cleaners simply have to scan the smartphone over the tags at each location to register the completion of work.

Any missed shifts can be quickly identified, so alternative arrangements can be made, while an accurate record of working hours can be recorded for operational reporting and payroll. The added insight provided by SmartTask, has enabled the University to adapt working schedules to increase cleaning jobs per day by a third. Electronic forms are also being used by supervisors to undertake work audits, health and safety checks and COSHH risk assessments.

The University’s security team is using SmartTask to simplify its reporting processes. Supervisors and officers are using a combination of electronic forms and RFID tags for a range of daily, weekly and monthly audits, such as car parks and other public areas, along with safety equipment checks, providing 100 per cent visibility since the system has been implemented.

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 defibrillator with an automated email notification. In addition, monthly checks of lift intercom systems and emergency response kits are also recorded, as well range daily checks for the control room, officer uniforms and vehicles.

The electronic nature of SmartTask, the central Estates and Facilities team is able to gain an accurate view of all activity through its advanced reporting capabilities, taking advantage of a range of reports to analyse performance and maintain complete operational transparency. It has helped 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 to identify inefficiencies or areas of improvement.

“SmartTask is helping us take control of our remote teams, making sure they are operating safely in accordance with our precise operational requirements,” explained Sandy Shaw, Campus Operations Manager, Estates and Facilities. “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.”

Paul Ridden, Managing Director of Skillweb said: “With a diverse range of teams often spread across multiple campuses, universities face a host of facilities and estate management challenges in terms of administration and management. Furthermore, ongoing cost pressures and budget constraints mean it is necessary to maximise the performance of available resources to achieve the highest levels of productivity possible. SmartTask provide facilities and estates managers with the tools they need to performance manage staff and improve employee accountability across the campus.”

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