Case Study

For University Residential Safety Office, Scheduling Proctors Is No Gamble

For University Residential Safety Office, Scheduling Proctors Is No Gamble

Just over a decade ago, before Northeastern University’s Residential Safety Office began using ScheduleSource to handle scheduling for student proctors in residence halls, shift exchanges were managed by supervisors physically moving Post-it Notes on a whiteboard in the basement.

“A lot of the scheduling and payroll used to be done pretty much by hand,” says Phillip Mora, assistant director of the Residential Safety Office.

The office, which is responsible for hiring and managing more than 700 student employees, needs to fill a little over 1,500 shifts weekly, says associate director Thao Tran. And it needs to do so following strict federal and state guidelines, including those governing how many hours students can work each week and when they must get a dining break.

With ScheduleSource, scheduling is largely automated. The office, which director Dan Finn says is “probably one of the largest single student employment departments on the East Coast,” moved from paper schedules to ScheduleSource’s TeamWork workforce management software in 2007, and hasn’t found another program that comes close.

“We were looking at a vendor this past year and they were having server issues because of the scale of traffic that we’re dealing with,” Mora says. “Their server couldn’t handle that many people trying to use schedules and trying to switch them between each other, so this is definitely a benefit we have with ScheduleSource.”

There are proctor stations in the lobby of most residence halls on Northeastern’s campus, located in Boston. Working as a proctor, which includes checking student IDs for access approval, gives students the opportunity to take some ownership in the safety and security of residence halls. The Residential Safety Office collects information from the student proctors each week on their availability, which is then used to populate schedules in the ScheduleSource TeamWork software program. TeamWork also factors in global parameters specifically built into the program for the Residential Safety Office, such as how many hours students can work each week and when dining breaks need to be built into the schedule.

Swap, Meet ScheduleSource

The biggest headache ScheduleSource solved for the office involved how shift exchanges, or swaps, are handled. Previously, supervisors had to manage and approve all of the shift swaps that occurred each week. With ScheduleSource, the students are able to go onto the swap board and exchange shifts themselves.

“It’s much less administrative work on our end. We don’t have to supervise that swap,” Mora says. “It allows employees to take their schedules into their own hands and make sure spots are filled. And it’s definitely easier on their end. They don’t have to contact an administrator to change their shift or change their schedule.”

There is an option in ScheduleSource that would allow supervisors to approve each swap if a client wanted to use that function, but the office has turned it off because the scale of the requested swaps Northeastern has would overwhelm staffers.

“We’d literally have to dedicate someone 24/7 to do that,” Finn says. “And we’re not doing that.”

Ensuring Schedule and Payroll Add Up

Northeastern’s Residential Safety Office also uses ScheduleSource for payroll. When proctors report for their shifts = each day, they clock in and out using an iPad at each proctor station.“We’re using that data to create reports that are used to pay them each week,” Mora says.

The scheduling and payroll programs are separate, but there is an absent/on portal that allows supervisors to compare the two functions to confirm whether a student actually worked when scheduled.

“I’ve received several emails from people who believed they should have been paid for a shift because it appeared on their schedule, but they actually didn’t work the shift,” Mora says. “So it didn’t appear on their time sheet — the payroll side of ScheduleSource.”

“The portal is a really inventive way of comparing both of them instead of pulling up the schedules and pulling up the time sheets and going person by person. It’s definitely far better than doing it by hand.”

A Custom Fit

Through the years, ScheduleSource’s team has worked closely with the Residential Safety Office to customize features they need. Recently, ScheduleSource completed a small modification to streamline the office’s payroll process. They also customized several fields and columns so the office could download a report that could then be uploaded to the university-wide payroll platform.

In addition, the workforce management software team has configured the office’s program so overnight shifts and start/end times match the global parameters the university is required to meet.

“After the schedule is published, all we have to do is monitor the next month to look at where we might have problem areas so we can potentially post shifts to the swap board or hire more people—whatever it takes to fill those shifts,” Mora says.

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