New mobility solution enhances field service

November 29, 2018

As stewards of buildings and grounds, Facilities Services staff work hard to maintain SFU’s unique Burnaby Campus landscape. To ensure its manicured lawns, planted areas, and natural green spaces are properly cared for, the University has contracted local business Popular Landscaping to handle the soft landscaping needs such as the maintenance and upkeep of lawns, sports fields, gardens, hedges trees, and planters. No small feat considering Burnaby Campus covers 195 hectares of land with approximately 32.2 hectares of greenery.

“There’s a lot going on at any given time and tracking which Service Requests were completed and when was a challenge for our department” says Jay Haynes, Manager, Civil Trades. “At any given point in time, we had over 100 open Service Requests and it was overwhelming for the manager and foreman to follow up with the contractor and close each request. The old system had the contractor making a visit in person to come to Facilities to pick up each work order.”

Earlier in the year, Jay reached out to Gerry Lopez, Manager of Strategic Initiatives to discuss potential solutions. After extensive discussions between team members and departmental leadership, Gerry began a project to improve service delivery.

“As we got started, we thought about establishing a system login for the contractors to manage their own Service Requests.” says Gerry. “As we got further into the project, we started thinking that instead of just giving them access why don’t we make it accessible on a mobile device? This would allow them to react in the field or wherever. So we approached this like a pilot project learning about our system on mobile devices and the functionality as well as what the possible challenges would be.”

The team quickly enabled the WebTMA mobile solution and provided the contractor with a mobile device. While there were a few technical bumps along the way, the enhancements not only streamlined the fulfillment process but also eliminated printing paper copies, improved customer service and communication and coordination between the contractor and SFU managers.

 Since implementation, still-open work order requests have dropped from 120 to just 10. Additionally, mobile functionality has allowed the contractor to complete work orders on the go as well as monitor the system for new work orders several times a day.

While mobile support for work orders is still quite new for the department, Larry Waddell, Chief Facilities Officer, applauds the initiative as an innovative tool helping departmental personnel make improvements to their work processes.

“This project highlights not just how technology can be used to support the work our employees and our contract partners are doing in the field, it shows how true collaboration within Facilities Services can make improvements to the way we do our work. This shows a creative way of doing the ‘paperwork’ that needs to be done, but not letting it get in the way of getting the work done.”