Hosted workforce management platform streamlines scheduling of student employees

ScheduleSource TeamWork 3.0 enables Northeastern University residence hall staff to keep posts covered with ease

Neither Boston winters, nor downed computers, nor disorganized coeds shall keep residence hall front desks from being manned at Northeastern University. That’s because ScheduleSource takes a lot of the work out of workforce management. Using the Teamwork 3.0 platform, a web-based workforce management application from ScheduleSource, Northeastern’s residence hall access control staff can digitally check their work schedule, or swap or pick up shifts from their computer or smartphone.

No more trudging across campus to check a schedule board, or looking for the piece of paper on which this week’s hours are scribbled. And the company’s off-site server means students can access ScheduleSource over Wi-Fi, even when university computers are down. “It was very difficult in the past, when we had 600 to 800 part-time employees, doing everything on paper,” recalls Thomas Cote, director of residence hall safety and security at Northeastern. “Somebody is telling you they swapped a shift, but you can’t find the paperwork. Today, ScheduleSource helps us keep shifts filled because people can go online to get a shift covered or pick up a shift. In the past, they would have to come into the office. Now they can do it right from their dorm room.”

ScheduleSource isn’t your grandfather’s time and attendance service. It allows managers to digitally and remotely track hours, know when someone clocks in at a post—and when they don’t, so a replacement can quickly be dispatched. Employees may clock in by calling a toll-free phone number, logging in from a smartphone or accessing a timeclock. While it works well for Cote’s part-time employees, 98 percent of whom are students, it also works for full-timers and those who split shifts between departments—for example, earning one salary for shelving library books and another for swiping meal cards at the dining hall. Northeastern fully implemented ScheduleSource in 2010 after two transitional years, in which employees moved from paper timesheets and schedules to a university-based program to post, swap, and pick up shifts online. The homegrown system, however, was vulnerable to downtime when the university’s computer system required maintenance, periods during which students couldn’t access the system and shifts would go uncovered, Cote says.

“Today, we can always get online to see what shifts people have worked, and how many more hours they’re able to work,” Cote says. Northeastern’s use of ScheduleSource is just one of many possibilities for the platform. The cloud-based, turnkey solution is completely configurable and can be integrated into existing systems using web services. Implementation is simple and fast; institutions can start accessing the platform immediately. The system is particularly attractive to universities with high variability of demand and workforce availability, and the system can enforce rules and compliance with virtually no ongoing maintenance from IT staff.

At Northeastern, students set parameters for availability and limits on hours, if applicable, and the system automatically fills in the 40 slots per shift. Cote locks down the schedule 24 hours in advance—preventing student-originated shift changes—so he has time to contact a private security firm to cover any open shifts. About 75 percent of Cote’s staff members are international students limited by law to working 20 hours a week while enrolled in classes. ScheduleSource easily allows students and the university to track hours and cut employees off at the 20-hour mark, Cote says. The system also allows him to modify parameters during breaks when the international workforce can expand their hours. Administrators from other university departments have been visiting Cote to learn more about ScheduleSource, he says. “I always recommend it,” he says. “Because it can work in any setting.”

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