Automation Alleviation: T2 Works with Colorado State University to Ease Pandemic Parking Problems
Colorado State University was established as Colorado Agricultural College in 1870. Situated in the heart of vibrant Fort Collins, CSU is the flagship university of the Colorado State University System, with an enrollment of nearly 33,000 students.
CSU’s culture is “driven by a desire always to do better and a vision to be the best place to learn, work, and discover.” CSU Parking and Transportation Services embodied these values as they worked with T2 Systems to improve processes and address the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Pandemic Overtaxes Parking Staff, Revealing Process Inefficiencies
In Spring 2020, the onset of the pandemic resulted in massive amounts of permit refunds. “When COVID-19 hit, I can’t tell you the number of hours we spent doing refunds on permits,” said Devan Durand, Associate Director of Parking and Transportation Services. “During this time, we reached out to other universities and joined calls, specifically around COVID-19, to share ideas and identify how we could improve our business operations.”
Parking and Transportation Services also saw an increase in incoming phone calls as customers looked for ways to interact with people after the end of lockdown. “People still enjoy live interaction, and we value that we can provide that level of service,” stated Durand.
The pandemic made very apparent that parking staff were overburdened with time-consuming, manual tasks and processes. Internal requests for department vehicle permits, payroll issues with employee permits, and citation collection difficulties all required manual data entry and several rounds of back-and-forth communication.
T2 Flex Task Automation Alleviates
In the summer of 2020, CSU started an engagement with T2 Managed Services to work through their permit refund issues. Together, they decided to set up a new permit control group for individuals receiving a credit toward their permit for the new year. However, the partnership didn’t stop there. “As we were creating this credit program, we just started building this relationship,” Durand explained. “We moved from reactive critical business need support requests to sharing proactive key business initiatives.”
CSU worked with T2 to automate many routine processes, resulting in decreased staff burden. All department vehicle permits are now automatically renewed. This automation eliminates the back-and-forth communication each year during permit season – departments only need to contact Parking and Transportation Services when they want a change. Citations are now automatically billed to departments as well, eliminating the need to track down the right department and employee for each citation.
Additionally, CSU was able to add several automated tasks into their T2 Flex instance to make their day-to-day easier. One uses their payroll integration to check for ineligible employees so they can deactivate permits ahead of time and contact those employees to arrange a different permit or payment process. Another changes a citation to a warning if the driver has not received a citation in the past year and automatically sends them a message.
Most recently, CSU implemented automatic renewals for employee permits, which Durand described as their “biggest lesson out of COVID-19.” Her hope is that this change will significantly lower the amount of phone calls the department gets in the weeks following permit sales going live, providing relief to her staff. It should also help prevent gaps in coverage and the need for prorated pricing, as well as make it easier if another situation arises where CSU needs to issue credits on a large number of permits.
“T2 really does provide a partnership where you can strategically walk through things and make improvements just within your own business structure. I can’t tell you the number of things we’ve learned about the system that have just been remarkable.”
Devan Durand, Associate Director of Parking and Transportation Services
Manual Mayhem Managed
Working with T2 Managed Services has been a positive experience for CSU, specifically the fact that they have been able to work with the same T2 staff throughout the process. “I think that’s the best part because we know each other’s working styles. It’s a very efficient way to do business, the most productive 30-minute POWER calls I’ve ever had because we’re not spending the time to relearn our already established business processes and language,” Durand said.
Durand also appreciates T2’s willingness to work together to improve CSU’s operation. “T2 really does provide a partnership where you can strategically walk through things and make improvements just within your own business structure. I can’t tell you the number of things we’ve learned about the system that have just been remarkable.”
Regarding the changes CSU made, Durand has already seen a significant amount of manual work taken off her team’s plate. A great example is the task that automatically reduces first-time citations to a warning. About 55 percent of the citations CSU issues were reduced by the implementation of this automation. While before an employee would have to go through and manually make that change in the system through an appeal process, now it is completely automated, improving the customer experience. “The automation removes so much unnecessary work from our team. That’s the biggest piece, supporting our office culture.”
These newly automated processes caught the attention of the Parking and Transportation leadership. “Dave Bradford, our Executive Director, brought a new vehicle on site, and he forwarded an email to our team that he received from the system that said, ‘We noticed that you added a license plate to your parking account. We have automatically linked it to your permit. If you need any other changes, please let us know.’ He told us, ‘I love the automation that we’ve built. Because I’m in parking and just made the same error that our customers have made, adding my plate to my account but forgetting to add to my permit,’” Durand explained.
Ultimately, these changes have enabled Parking and Transportation Services to live up to CSU’s vision of making the university a better place to learn, work, and discover. “I think we’re making a difference to the people that we serve, and that’s what we get excited about with T2: being able to show our customers that we’re doing everything we can to improve service.”