Doors have locks, of course—both traditional and electronic locks. For years, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, creating the keys and access cards to allow staff to get into offices, laboratories, classrooms, and residence halls was a completely manual and time-consuming task: Users printed a hard copy of a request form, filled it out, passed it along for an approval signature, and sent it via campus mail to facilities management. There, someone compared the signature on the form to that on the authorization card on file; once the form was verified, the request was sent to the lock shop so that a key could be ground or a card programmed. The entire process took at least three days to complete.
With UNLV adding nearly 60 acres and 10,000 students to its campus over the last 15 years, facilities management staff realized a more efficient system was needed. After consulting with a variety of stakeholders, the university earlier this year rolled out a fully automated, web-based request system allowing staff and students to enter information online. Replacing the manual signature comparison was an electronic approval process through which approvers are notified by the system that a request is waiting and can sign into a secure, password-protected site to either approve or deny the request. E-mail confirmations and status updates are sent to requestors at each step of the process, and an online status check utility allows them to see where their request resides at any point.
Whenever a requestor wants to know where the keys are, he or she can log in and see, says Richard Storlie, director of administrative services. “It’s all electronically maintained—kind of like what you can do with a package with FedEx.”
The system has allowed a lock shop position to remain vacant, with no loss of quality or timeliness.
Storlie reports that the initial rollout has generated both positive feedback and suggestions for improvement; among planned enhancements are allowing department heads to go online to determine who is permitted to approve requests, and allowing approvers to modify requests before giving the thumbs-up.
Already, the new system has allowed Storlie to allow a lock shop position to remain vacant, with no loss of quality or timeliness, following a full-time employee’s retirement. And while reducing processing time by two days may not seem like much, when one considers that UNLV handles around 5,000 key requests a year, anything that streamlines the process is important. Throw in the budget woes caused by the rocky economy, and the newly realized efficiency becomes even more significant.
“Our workload increased exponentially with budget cuts,” Storlie says, “but because of this we’re saving time and effort.”