Job Management Website Integration

Job Management System integrated with website, and MIS

Wynstones is a Steiner-Waldorf school in Gloucestershire. The Facilities Department needed to convert an Excel Job Management System to a Microsoft Access database. They also wanted to integrate this with their website, so that staff, teacher, parents and community friends could post requests for work which would then be collected and co-ordinated centrally.

The Problem

Managing jobs was time-consuming. As ad hoc requests for work were received in various ways, such as face to face, telephone, walkie-talkie, or on separate pieces of paper. There needed to be a central method that would enable all staff members to log requests for jobs and note their urgency. There were also a number of regular tasks, as well as major school events, that were either noted in a diary or known to the staff.

All items were logged in an Excel spreadsheet, which they used to prioritise and schedule work. The spreadsheet however was not able to log all the information they needed. Nor did it maintain a history of jobs completed, as these were deleted when finished.

Similarly they were not able to track how quickly jobs were done in order to help with forward planning the next time a similar task was requested. Staff were so snowed under with work that they had no time for management reporting.

The Solution

We concentrated first on building a Job Management database with a strong data model that would cover all current requirements, as well as provide a solid framework for developing further. The Facilities team had a clear idea of information they wanted to store, processes that the system should handle, and how the system should be used. They felt that Microsoft Access would be the best option for them so they could handle changes to the management information reports themselves.

Job co-ordination has now been simplified considerably. New ad-hoc jobs can be added and prioritised easily, whilst recurring jobs and regular events are now automatically carried forward weekly, annually or as appropriate. A filtered job list enables staff to see jobs for each day in order of priority, colour coded by urgency, and grouped by job type or staff member. The database helps them to manage safety checks, including PAT testing, as well as schedule regular maintenance inspections.

Once Facilities staff were familiar with the new system, we integrated the new Job Management system with the school's existing website (MySQL based). Facilities staff members, teachers and parents now have a common point of access. A Job Posting form on the school's website links directly into the Job Management database.

A Management Information System provides a wide range of reports and statistics. Completed and outstanding jobs can be viewed, filtered by general classification, function, location, and other criteria. Scheduling work can be done more accurately as staff are now able to track how long each job takes.

Together with 2 colleagues I had done some preparatory reviewing of processes surrounding job management with a view to streamlining the system. We knew a database would be the right solution to help us forward. It seemed plausible to the 3 of us that we would be capable of modifying a blank access database for our purposes, or else approach Tony at pc access if we got stuck. I was tasked with giving this a try, and quickly realised my skill limitations with Microsoft Access. My struggles were very real and at several levels of comprehension!

My next step was to discuss over the phone with Tony what we had got in terms of a description of the fields we wished to incorporate into the working database. He quickly explained the requirements which would allow him to set up an initial version for us to try out. Thus I emailed a layman’s description of the types of job, locations, levels of urgency and so forth.
Some short time later a first version was set up on our network using a remote session that Tony and I established, and I gave it a try. A couple of refinements were made after that and the Job Management Database was born! It works a treat, and despite not having been asked to do so as such, it is possible for a manager to be given a report showing details such as average time to complete jobs, or number completed, etc. Owing to the uncluttered front end design the database serves as a very effective tool for assessing which type of job remains highest priority, or requires completion before a set deadline...which has proved to be of great value to the maintenance team's regime of works.

I can highly recommend pc access for excellent customer support and product design/deployment; a pleasure to do business with you.

DAVID BASS Lead Maintenance and Network Administrator. Wynstones School