For years, Kayla Miller, a senior secretary in the Department of Recreational Sports, spent over half of every workday processing payroll information for almost 700 student staff members. This fall, she said, everything changed when her department adopted timekeeping technology developed by Student Affairs IT’s Reitz Union team.
Jeffrey Schmidt, Application Developer Analyst III at the J. Wayne Reitz Union and lead designer on the project, created myReitz, an application that unifies student staff timekeeping policies, procedures, and reporting methods for the Reitz Union, Student Activities and Involvement, Center for Leadership and Service, and Recreational Sports. He saw opportunities for cost savings in student employee time-punch accuracy, supervisor approval screens, and better tracking of employee uniforms.
However, various existing software packages the Reitz Union team explored came with significant price tags and unnecessary features, such that projected net savings would be almost zero once the team factored in purchase and maintenance fees, said Steven Bourdon, IT Manager for Student Government and the Reitz Union. “Imagine you only needed to word process, but the products available to you had all the capabilities of the entire Microsoft Office suite,” he said.
Instead of engaging a third party to provide software that met only some of the departments’ needs and had features unnecessary for their purposes, the team developed and created their own application, said Schmidt. myReitz allows student and OPS employees to punch in and out in real time, view hours worked, track their required university trainings, and even check out uniforms and equipment.
The technology was first implemented into the Reitz Union in 2014 and was widely applauded by the staff. After a successful launch, word got back to leaders at Recreational Sports and they asked to join in the Fall of 2015. That’s when, Miller said, her entire job changed:“Suddenly I was able to focus on everything else but time. Invoicing, purchasing, implementing a brand new invoicing system, and I took over all hiring, which used to be handled by three people. Basically any and everything I want to do other than payroll, I can do it!” she said.
Team members estimated a total savings of 441,000 dollars for the involved Student Affairs departments, which includes increased accuracy of student hours worked, elimination of paper timesheets and manual data entry, user-friendly screens that streamline the supervisor approval process.
“When you think about how much money these departments have saved, and what they can do with that money, it is really remarkable,” said Norb Dunkel, associate vice president for student affairs for auxiliary operations, who oversees operations of the Reitz Union and Recreational Sports.
Other positive outcomes include automatically identifying patterns for employees who are frequently tardy or approach FTE limits for student or international employees. Pam Hightower, former assistant director of Recreational Sports, said that the new system allows for more immediate remediation of problematic behaviors, and can prevent international students from losing visa privileges.
The myReitz team was recognized with a Prudential Productivity Award, a Florida state-wide recognition designed to highlight state employees who innovatively reduce costs and improve services for Florida taxpayers.
Dunkel said that the myReitz system is a model of innovation and execution and is proud of the IT team at the Reitz Union: “From fully exploring alternatives, to developing the system with student employees at the table, to piloting it, to fully implementing it and now assessing this summer,” he said. “That’s the right way to do it.”