Crown College is a private, four-year Christian college offering a personal, biblically based education.  Located near Minneapolis, Minnesota, Crown offers degree-completion programs and graduate degrees and over thirty five undergraduate degrees such as nursing, communication, business and social entrepreneurship. 

Crown College has 1,300 students, but is aggressively expanding with the goal of 2,000 students in the next two years. 

Challenge
The Director of Operations at Crown College has a big job.  Benjamin Waurms oversees seven departments including facilities, IT, safety, custodial, campus events, dining services and risk management.  His department is committed to customer service, professional excellence and communication.  They even have a departmental mission: The Small Things Matter.

Waurms believes in empowerment as a form of management.  With 150 staff members, he wants everyone to be able to collaborate and share information more easily. 

“I think when employees understand the entire picture, including the budgeting process, you get more accurate information,” says Waurms.  “I tried to facilitate that kind of collaborative, sharing environment using spreadsheets and e-mail, but it just wasn’t working.  Versions cropped up and updates were missed.  Employees got frustrated and additional meetings were called to sort out status.”

During this time, the capital budgeting process took 3 months to complete. Large-scale IT projects took too long and meetings were held multiple times a week just to check in on the status.  There was no way to keep track of accountability and deadlines. 

Solution
When the president of Crown College suggested Google Apps and Smartsheet, Waurms was intrigued.  At the time, he was evaluating Microsoft Project, but felt the features were overkill.  He quickly decided Smartsheet had a better chance of adoption among his 150 staff members because of the spreadsheet-like interface. 

He immediately moved the capital budgeting process from spreadsheets and e-mail to Smartsheet.  With Smartsheet’s proactive notifications and alerts on deadlines and assignments, the project’s duration dropped from 3 months to 4 weeks.  A big factor was the ability to avoid back-and-forth by sharing information via e-mail. 

With Smartsheet, all of the maintenance technicians can update the sheet as they evaluate campus assets.  There are different sections for 1 year projects, 5 year projects and projects which will be addressed in 20 years.  The technicians add capital repairs and the CFO can go into Smartsheet to see what the current queue looks like. 

Last year, Waurms’ team took on a huge IT project: they implemented document imaging software across campus.  The project’s responsibility was shared among 5 administrators.

“Using Smartsheet for the document imaging project saved 6 of us at least 4 hours a week of meeting time for 50 weeks in one year,” says Waurms.  “That is 1,000 hours of top level administrator time given back - and that was just on one project.” 

In addition to capital planning and IT projects, Crown College also uses Smartsheet for:

  • Plant management - There is a work order queue set up in Smartsheet for all work orders which need approval from the plant manager.  Once the work is approved, the order is entered into the campus management system.  This keeps the campus system clear of all orders awaiting approval.
  • IT Projects - All IT technicians on staff update Smartsheet weekly.  Meeting recaps are uploaded as discussions so those absent can see what took place.  All projects have timelines and Gantt charts associated with them and are shared with IT vendors.
  • Staffing Calendars - Daily and weekly calendars for facilities teams are in Smartsheet
  • Bookstore Management - All meetings regarding inventory are tracked in Smartsheet.  Meetings from prior year are archived and action items are set with notifications.
  • Business Research Methods Class - Students in this class use Smartsheet to complete a business research project. Smartsheet serves as an introduction to project management software.


“At the end of the day, my department is about adding value to the student experience through improved customer service,” says Waurms.  “With Smartsheet, we are able to deliver on that promise more quickly and with more accurate information than before.”