Line of Business Solutions - University of Reading

Clarity developed a document management solution for the University Estates and Facilities Department, which is based on Microsoft SharePoint.

Following successful adoption of the EDRMS solution, Clarity was engaged to implement a wider range of solutions based on SharePoint for the University, including electronic forms, workflows and integration with line of business systems.

In particular, the University Estates and Facilities Department currently have a large number of asp based solutions (forms, applications, webpages) on their campus Intranet, which they can no longer support effectively and Clarity is working with the University to migrate these disparate solutions to a SharePoint environment, using an iterative approach. The scope of work for each migration is initially defined using a collaborative approach and a fixed price proposal is provided by Clarity prior to commencement of the work.

The SharePoint solutions being developed by Clarity for UoR range from a simple site page to bespoke line of business solutions that integrate with the Estates and Facilities management information solutions. Two specific solutions developed by Clarity are described below.

These two solutions are used to support the delivery of facilities maintenance services across a campus university environment that has over 100 maintenance and grounds staff


Solution 1 - Replacement Help Desk Request Facility Using SharePoint Forms

Clarity developed a solution within SharePoint 2013 that replaced the existing functionality provided by the Estates and Facilities portal ASP pages. The solution is used by individuals throughout the campus to raise Estates and Facilities job requests (e.g. building maintenance tasks and fault rectifications).

Clarity worked with UOR to ensure the new solution requirements replicated the functionality of the existing ASP based solution, whilst maximising the security models within the SharePoint environment to remove the requirement for users to log into a second system when submitting requests.

The solution integrates with a legacy asset and maintenance management system (Wren) to provide selection parameters and request specific options (e.g. the availability of certain options depends on the type of premises selected).

Following the submission of the request, an entry is created within Wren, which is allocated to the relevant engineer for implementation.

The solution was initially created using a custom web based InfoPath form within InfoPath 2010. The purpose of the form is capture IT Help Desk ticket requests from all users within the organisation. Custom code (C#) was also required to increase functionality of standard out-of-the-box features due to the level of complexity in the UoR requirements. Read/write data functions to the Wren database were managed by SharePoint Business Connectivity Services (BCS) throughout the process.


Solution 2 - SharePoint Based Tablet User Interface to Replace Manual Process

Following successful implementation of the Help Desk solution, Clarity was asked to implement a job task and timesheet system that would allow the Estates and Facilities engineers to interact with the Wren database remotely using a tablet interface (specifically the ipad Mini).

This solution has replaced labour-intensive manual tasks and is saving considerable time. In particular, engineers can now log in to the new interface screens to access jobs, which are allocated on-line, and record completed tasks. Engineers also no longer need to visit an office to collect jobs and to submit paper-based forms.

These tablet-based SharePoint forms allow staff to carry out the following tasks:

  • View outstanding maintenance tasks
  • Complete a maintenance visit form and submit to the system
  • Complete timesheets
  • View Asbestos Register information
  • Allocate jobs (supervisors)
  • Allocate jobs (managers)

A complete record of all system interactions is recorded in an audit log.

The solution was built using custom SharePoint application pages and it integrates with an external Microsoft SQL server database to read, write and update data. As the database has many different applications using it concurrently, SQL stored procedures were created for the majority of the required database updates and these procedures are called when the various updates are actioned.