Setting the scene

Estates are in charge of maintaining the University’s buildings and campus. A key part of this activity is tracking maintenance jobs and making sure no one is kept waiting.

At the time of the project the Estates team was responsible for 168 buildings (the oldest of which dates from 1413 and the most recent from 2012) and dealt with 16,269 maintenance requests across schools, residences, and units.


The scoping exercise identified that:

1. There were a number of issues with the then current process

  • The process was largely manual and thus time consuming
  • Jobs were not opened or closed in a timely fashion
  • The process had many steps at which errors could be introduced
  • It was inefficient and allowed for some jobs to slip through the cracks

2. Staff had a number of concerns about the project

  • Impact on staffing levels (Is this just a way to reduce staff numbers?)
  • Why do we need timesheets anyway?
  • Time sheets, apparently, always had to add up to 36.25 hours per week
  • Management would not follow through with the team outcome from the RIE
  • Whether to volunteer or not
  • Would they get buy-in from peers




It became apparent during scoping that an expected outcome was a paper free process that covered job request, allocation, tracking, completion, approval, and closing. A system, if implemented, was expected to deliver:

  • On demand access
  • An online timesheet completion and approval process
  • Accurate and on-demand reporting



What we did

The Lean Team facilitated a five-day rapid improvement event, the high level objective of which was to ensure the efficient management of the University Estate. The project team of ten included staff from all of the trades, at all levels including foremen and apprentices, as well as representatives from the main office and Estates IT.




Process Improvements

  • Immediate elimination of paper time sheets
  • Immediate sourcing and closing of jobs electronically
  • Greater awareness and understanding of the process among Estates staff and Reporting Officers in the schools, residences, and units
  • PC/Printer provision solved prior to the end of the RIE (provision in the workshops and access across the University)

Quantitative Benefits

  • Elapsed time (from receipt to closing of job) reduced from 44 to 14 days
  • Process time down from over 4 hours to 21 minutes
  • Immediate saving of an est. 4.5 FTE (£135,000)

Qualitative Benefits

  • Estates can start to move from reactive to proactive maintenance


Current State Map



Future Plans

Estates over time, and following the progressive improvement in wifi access across the University, moved from using PCs for tracking and closing jobs to using mobile devices. This outcome was estimated, at the time of the RIE, to save a further 1.5 FTE (£45,000).




“I think all went well as most if not all of us were sceptical about Lean but now all see the benefits.” – Estates Tradesperson

“I think the process as a whole went really well. I feel we have all contributed into it and got along as a team. I feel we have all put into a positive change for Estates.” – Estates Administrator