Oxford Brookes University relies on estates and facilities management to keep pace with campus requests
Set in a historic city, Oxford Brookes is one of the UK’s leading modern universities, which enjoys an international reputation for teaching excellence and innovation.
The university’s estates and facilities management (EFM) organisation plays a critical role in supporting its students and staff members. The team is responsible for the planning, development, and maintenance of the university estate, which includes four campuses and five large halls of residence, and providing support services to all faculty members and departments.
The EFM operation was handling approximately 10,000 planned tasks per year, yet at the same time reactive maintenance had reached levels of 12,000 requests per year. These tasks could range from changing a light bulb to mending a leaky tap to handling an emergency gas leak.
The high volume of tasks only served to highlight the huge limitations of the existing EFM system. As Clare Colwell, Service Desk Manager of Estates and Facilities Management at Oxford Brookes University, explains, “We had a rudimentary EFM system, with a strong reliance on paper-based and manual processes. Tickets were entered by hand into the system, printed out for engineers, and manually closed once the paper tickets had been returned.”
Clare continues, “With thousands of tickets to process every month there was a significant administrative burden on our team. We were becoming increasingly reactive and didn’t have time to take a more strategic approach to planning, which would alleviate our workload in the long term.”
The university’s EFM system struggled to adequately support mobile workers
With more than 80 technicians, engineers, and maintenance professionals working across the university estate at any one time, there was no capability to update or track jobs until they were logged manually with the EFM service desk team, in person. The EFM system also had limited functionality to track EFM performance and existing SLAs.
However, the biggest criticism of the EFM system was from the staff and students at Oxford Brookes. Whenever they raised a request or issue there was no way to track the progress of the job without making calls to the already over-burdened EFM service desk.
ServiceNow helps Oxford Brookes transform EFM service delivery
Oxford Brookes needed a single platform to consolidate the delivery of all EFM services, whether that was mending a broken window or handling an emergency in a residence hall. Dr. Bruce Norris, Head of Programmes and Projects for IT Services at Oxford Brookes University, explains, “The IT services team had been using ServiceNow for several years and we could see obvious benefits to extending the platform to estates and facilities management. By automating workflows and focusing on the service experience, we knew we could transform EFM from a reactive to a proactive operation.”
Extensive ServiceNow testing with real-world examples, plus a departmentwide training programme, meant the cloud-based delivery platform was fit-for-purpose from day one. The uneventful “go-live” was exactly what the team wanted—guaranteeing business as usual across the service desk.
Collaboration between the IT and EFM teams was vital to the successful rollout of ServiceNow. According to Dr. Norris, “Actively demonstrating the flexibility of the Now Platform® and speed of configuration was a defining moment in the trial stages. Being able to create a working demo after a one-day workshop built a lot of trust between IT and EFM, marking a move towards greater collaboration and integration between the two teams.”
The university creates value through operational visibility, helping to manage a 60% increase in demand
Complete operational visibility across the EFM organisation has transformed service delivery for the team and its internal customers.
Through a single view into all EFM services, managers can easily track all requests and jobs in progress, interrogate the system to identify duplicates or recurring issues, and report on the performance of the EFM operation to improve accountability to the university.
Access to real-time information is proving invaluable to making informed decisions, particularly for emergency or high-priority situations. Using GPS tracking in conjunction with ServiceNow, the EFM service desk can identify where engineers are located and what tasks they are working on to help ensure that the right resource is deployed and on the scene as quickly as possible.
Managing information and requests relating to the university’s five residence halls has also become much more straightforward. The ServiceNow single system of record means duplicate jobs are avoided, which was a common occurrence with multiple people reporting the same issue. On-site residence halls personnel can keep track of all reported issues without relying on updating a paper record.
Rather than seeing a reduction in the number of service requests, the EFM team at Oxford Brookes has seen a 60% rise in reactive tasks.
However, Clare highlights that this is testament to the success of the ServiceNow approach. She says, “The volume of requests has increased significantly and that’s incredibly positive."