Sheffield Hallam University

With more than 28,000 students and over 3,000 staff, Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) is not only a progressive, forward thinking university, it is the sixth largest University in the UK. Currently boasting a £150 million turnover it has an ambitious growth strategy which includes capital investment of over £150m over the next decade. This flagship institution has invested £80 million in new building and refurbishment since 1996 with plans for further development already under way.

The Facilities Directorate provides a range of services which add value to the University. With nearly 600 staff employed across all campuses and residential sites, the Directorate offers expertise in delivering services from portering and cleaning, building surveying, maintenance to luscious banquets. Since its first introduction to FSI a decade ago, at a trade show where the capabilities of Concept™ 300 were spotlighted, the relationship between the two organisations has developed as a true business partnership.

"In 1995 mechanical engineering consultants Mott MacDonald was assigned to conduct a study of five systems and recommend the one

best suited to the university's specifications," recalls Richard Barker, Head of Estates Services at SHU. "FSI's Concept™ SQL product was selected as the preferred software solution.
Since then the Concept™ system has been
used for managing the university's facilities on
a day-to-day basis."

"The move away from our manually based helpdesk for maintenance requests was, in its own right, a major change for us," explains Richard. "That, coupled with our decision to include FM soft services such as portering, transport and catering service requests meant we needed to partner with a company that could talk our language and translate it into practical solutions.

"Past experience of system implementation with other suppliers meant this shift from manual to CAFM was met with an element of scepticism from colleagues. It was therefore essential that in-depth training and a dedicated amount of time for familiarisation of the system was given. We did not want the system to be blamed if we experienced 'snagging' problems when the system went live." Mindful of this, FSI consultants worked closely with the University, from the outset, to ensure a seamless integration of the system.

With a very open relationship, where customer feedback was vital to FSI, adaptations to the Concept™ SQL system were made.

"It is refreshing to work with a company that encourages honest feedback," continues Richard. We requested a number of modifications to be made to allow us to achieve additional functionality for our specific requirements. The main, initial change was to the 'copy call' feature. The adjustment made by FSI enabled a duplicate call to be sent to a number of service providers. For example, a call is made to the porters for a room layout change to be made, another will be made to catering for refreshments, transport to deliver catering etc. This enhancement has paid dividends, providing us with much greater transparency of our system processes with everyone now able to see the 'supply-chain'.

Implementation of the system was a lengthy process, but one that has proved its worth.
Every aspect of the 'changeover' was considered in minute detail with over 18 months devoted to working with the manual based help desk and service providers to collect data and analyse work processes for Concept™ SQL.

A copy of the system was then made and run as a dummy stand alone set-up so all users would be fully conversant with the system prior to it going live. With training and system enhancements completed the system went live without a hitch. The vast majority of services have been successfully integrated through one point of contact offering essential management information which in-turn can be utilised to improve services and productivity.

Now used to manage contracted-out, in-house planned maintenance and general management throughout the university estate, other areas for CAFM have been highlighted and SHU is already exploring the use of mobile technology to enhance their work processes and customer communication and have recently installed the 'workflow lite' module. "The list of benefits we have gained from implementing this new system is vast," reflects Richard. "Not only does it identify areas of high breakdowns and high costs but it gives us an audit trail which allows us, as managers, to have a 360 degree view of what is going on around the estate from our desktop –
a priceless function that, until now, we have not had."