With merging sites and an evolving organisation The Sheffield College Central Estates Office called in SSG Insight to help it centralise its disparate collection of helpdesk tools and work order management systems. CMMS Agility is now driving performance and efficiency in the Estates team and presenting one simple interface to its users.
The Sheffield College provides high quality academic and vocational training. The Federation of colleges (Sheffield City College, Hillsborough College, Norton College, and Peaks College) provides further education provision to the City of Sheffield and beyond in partnership with schools, universities, and local industry. The college has 20,000 students, is spread across four sites, and its estates team manage around 2,000 maintenance and facilities management work orders per month.
The Sheffield College is made up of various organisations that were historically separate. As such, various different facilities and maintenance management helpdesks were in operation for different buildings. As the organisation consolidated these sites, the Central Estates Office – and its service infrastructure – needed to align.
The department needed to integrate previously disparate business systems while improving the transparency, clarity, and accessibility of the status of work orders.
Trevor Fox, Buildings Manager at The Sheffield College, said, “We were running four different systems, three different helpdesk tools and, one work-order management system. When the management of the estate became centralised there was a need to standardise the system we used and, importantly, present one simple interface to our users.”
Trevor and his team wanted a work order management system with helpdesk functionality and a user-friendly interface: “As a department, we did not feel that our communication with staff and users was satisfactory, and we wanted to address that.”
The Sheffield College has worked with Maintenance Management System specialists SSG Insight for 12 years, using another of the company’s maintenance systems, IMPACTxp, initially. In 2009 the College’s Central Estates Office decided to migrate all the facilities management software to one maintenance tool. They selected SSG Insight’s flexible browser-based maintenance management solution, Agility.
Trevor said, “We needed to ensure that internal and external users could raise requests – report faults/defects/issues – and then track them. We wanted to provide a single standardised system that combined the helpdesk and work order process in one tool. Agility really fitted the bill.”
As a very powerful and flexible browser-based system, Agility has enabled The Sheffield College Estates team to open up Facilities Management access via the existing college network, so that any of the service managers at any of the college sites can raise requests and view their progress. Work orders, ranging from small classroom repairs to requests for more project-based work (i.e. painting), can be logged and assigned using Agility. The requests are reviewed by the Central Estates Office and allocated either internally or to an appropriate contractor.
Trevor said, “Clear communication is one of our most important requirements. Contractors need fast access to information about their assignments and we want to provide all users with clear data regarding the status of their work orders. That has definitely been achieved with Agility.”
As a browser-based system, Agility can be securely accessed from any computer. This means the college’s main contractor, Garside Laycock, has remote access to the system.
In addition to helping to log and assign tasks, Agility ensures that the person making the request is given an indication of when and by whom the work will be completed. It then notifies the initiator upon completion of their request so that they can check that the outcome is satisfactory.
Trevor said, “Since Agility was introduced, college staff can communicate with the Central Estates Office quickly and easily and they have a much clearer picture of what is going on with their requests.”
Another advantage of the Agility system is the amount of information it can collect, store, and quickly retrieve. This includes segmented data regarding the number of tasks dealt with by the Building Services and Central Estates Offices, the total number of requests and the time taken to carry out each task. Trevor said, “We are accountable to the management team. Agility ensures that all the essential information is quick to hand; all we need to do is set our KPIs.”
In addition to the work order management and request assignment handled by Agility, the system allows the Central Estates Office to register assets and gather asset management performance data via its facility to classify rooms and assets according to their number and type (i.e. lecture theatres and laboratories; air conditioning units and projectors).
Trevor said, “Agility enables us to monitor the performance of individual pieces of equipment. For example, we can quickly retrieve data about the overall running costs of a specific air conditioning unit if it requires regular servicing.”
The team is continuing to build its asset register and starting to include the college’s catering equipment. “The data we’re compiling will enable us to interrogate right down to the level of each individual asset, which will have all kinds of uses when conducting cost/benefit analysis.”
In the future, Agility could be used to monitor individual team members’ performance and workload, offering analysis on departmental efficiency and ensuring that internal and contractor resourcing is well-matched to the amount of work required. The system now handles 2,000 helpdesk work orders per month.
“We anticipate that formal customer surveys will confirm what we already know anecdotally – that the new Agility system has been very well received across the college,” noted Trevor. “It is working well currently and is still work in progress – there’s a lot more interesting and useful functionality available in the system than we’re using at the moment. Agility is helping us to drive efficiency.”