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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities
iPads, new app improves efficiency in Landscape Services

iPads, new app improves efficiency in Landscape Services


Jan. 7, 2016

Landscape Services has digitized the paper process with new technology – a mapping and tracking app paired with iPads in the field. Their efforts, which launched over the summer, have already resulted in greater efficiency and the beginnings of a cultural shift within the department. 

We are approaching a fundamental shift in how the department has operated over the past 30 years, said Adam Lawver, assistant manager of Landscape Services.

“As the higher education industry continues to face financial turbulence, we feel our best competitive advantage will be to operate with evidence-based decisions built upon the collective talent, experience and intuition of our workforce,” Lawver explained. “This advancement wouldn’t have the same impact if we didn’t also pursue the implementation of action analytics defined as utilizing the application of measurement, process improvement and behavior change to consciously stimulate a culture of measurement and improvement.”

In a parallel effort to explore data and build metrics and key performance indicators, the department continued to explore GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technologies that can be deployed into the field on mobile platforms to provide the workforce with technology that improves access to information. 

The department implemented a new mobile application called Collector, and it’s proving to be a game changer. 

“We are improving our performance.  We are making a difference in the quality and quantity of work we complete on a daily basis, but most importantly we are receiving positive feedback from our staff that the application is making their work life much more rewarding,” Lawver added. 

Landscape crews are provided with an iPad and the app allows them to do the following:

  • Plan where they have tasks to complete
  • Filter on what types of tasks are required
  • Upload notes, plans and/or photographs 
  • Complete the tasks in the app from the field

The data is then uploaded and updated by the minute to a dashboard that displays and tracks progress towards goals and is accessible to supervisors and employees.

The goal is to develop and deploy the app to all crews in Landscape Services by this spring.  “We are confident that the investment in mobile technology deployed to the workforce is our future and where we need to focus on over the next few years to stay competitive in the industry and provide the lowest cost to MSU,” Lawver said.