Butler University Strengthens Collaboration Between Housing and Facilities Teams with StarRez’s Inventory & Inspections Solution

Learn how Butler University decreased time spent on inspections by 80% & reduced damage bill reviews by over 50% with StarRez Inventory & Inspections.
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Key Highlights

80% LESS

Time spent on inspections, allowing for smooth and efficient turns.


In damage bill reviews, strengthening collaboration between campus partners.


With charges, ensuring the correct residents are held accountable for their damages.


With first time inspections, eliminating the need to return to rooms for more information.

Butler University
Midwest, USA
Higher Education
Active Since
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Butler University is a private institution in Indianapolis with approximately 4,500 undergraduates. The university's three-year campus residency requirement helps foster a close-knit community among students living on campus. With just over 2,300 beds managed by StarRez, plus additional fraternity and sorority housing, Butler ensures ample options for its students. Maintaining a strong sense of community involves meticulous oversight of residential spaces, including monitoring inventory and swiftly addressing any damages.

Shannon Mulqueen, Director of Residence Life at Butler University, and John Lacheta, Manager of Facilities & Operations at Butler University, presented a webinar to the StarRez community called, Work Smarter – Not Harder! StarRez Room Inventory and Inspections. They revealed how their team tracks inventory and manages inspections using StarRez. Keep reading to explore how Butler fully transformed a paper process to a digital one using the power of inventory and inspections within StarRez.

The Switch to StarRez

Butler University had used a paper-based inventory and inspection process for many years. This traditional approach involved the manual transfer of paper documents between departments, detailing the tasks required for each room. However, due to the inherent delays with this method, essential tasks could remain unaddressed for weeks or even months, causing major issues, especially in time-sensitive situations. For instance, an electrician might not receive the task list until July, which could pose significant challenges if urgent tasks need completion before athletes move in on August 1st.

In 2020, the university adopted StarRez. Due to the complexity of circumstances during that year, they utilized an interim inventory and inspection solution that involved Excel and Google. The following year, they successfully implemented comprehensive inspections and inventory management through the StarRez platform. They not only configured the new process with the help of the StarRez team, but were also able to tap into the greater power of the StarRez community. They connected with Rona Skinner, Director of Project Management Office & Information Technology Services at the Rochester Institute of Technology, whose valuable advice helped transform their new process.

Early Benefits Realized

Once they began using the new solution and took advantage of the updated processes, Butler experienced a huge reduction in inspection time – about 80% less time compared to their previous process.

“We were able to decrease the time spent on inspections significantly from the point where - for our most complicated building - it was taking us the entire summer to complete inspections, between turns from athletes and from summer housing back to the academic year. We were able to reduce that to approximately two and a half weeks.”

- Shannon Mulqueen, Director of Residence Life at Butler University

Additionally, a significant improvement in charge accuracy with StarRez led to a notable decrease in damage bill reviews. This enhancement reduced the workload by over 50% and ensured accurate charges for students, reducing frustration and boosting satisfaction among both residents and staff.

“We also were able to reduce the damage bill reviews that we were doing by over half and then charge students accurately the first time. It had many effects on our partners across the institution, including especially our friends in billing who were happy to see the change.”

- Shannon Mulqueen, Director of Residence Life at Butler University

From a residential perspective, the new system enabled Butler to hold individuals accountable for their own damages. This new level of accuracy and clear communication help reduce confusion and frustration, boosting overall resident satisfaction.

An Overview of Butler’s Inventory & Inspection Operations

At Butler University, the new approach to inspections and inventory management varies depending on the season and circumstance. During the summer months, multiple inspection runs are orchestrated to oversee the entire seasonal transition.  

Below is a brief overview of how those inspection processes work in tandem for maximum efficiency and time savings.

Inspection Process Overview

Upon student checkout at the end of the academic year, the first inspection run begins. Residential Advisors (RAs) verify the room is vacant and conduct a swift assessment of the unit, documenting any observed damages directly within the StarRez system.

After the RAs complete this initial step, the process diverges into three distinct paths, which are handled simultaneously. One path involves the room data being automatically transmitted to Residence Life professional staff for confirmation of damages for billing. At the same time, the operations team and a cohort of summer RA Residence Life staff will assess the room for any required repairs not attributable to damages, managing associated work orders promptly. All while the room is directed to painting or housekeeping services as necessary. Once all requisite tasks within these three paths are fulfilled, a final inspection marks the conclusion of the process. A visual representation of this operation is outlined in the graph below.

Compared to their previously used paper-method, this new process with three paths running parallel has allowed for maximum efficiency and has sped up the process by approximately 10 weeks over the summer.

Inventory Overview

At Butler, the inventory management process within StarRez is structured to ensure clarity and efficiency in addressing room-specific needs. To provide transparency regarding the items managed within each room, the team established distinct inventory categories.

These categories encompass various aspects such as plumbing, electrical systems, furniture, and structures. Additionally, there are two categories for admin purposes labeled "Office Use Only" and "SHARE" (Summer Housing Annual Restoration Efforts). The segmentation into fundamental trades and office labels is to facilitate seamless work order division and administrative organization later in the process.

“When I say work smarter, not harder, the epitome of that phrase is this piece.”

- John Lacheta, Manager of Facilities & Operations at Butler University

When categorizing inventory, a desk chair, for example, would fall into the “Furniture” category. But certain checkpoints or tasks over summer including, “housekeeping complete” would be put into the “SHARE” category. Or something like, “inspection complete” during the academic year would be put into the “Office Use Only” category. This upfront organization ensures automated workflows and maximum efficiency between campus partners.

“Back in the paper days, the word 'SHARE’ used to incite fear into anyone in housing or facilities, and now it's a pretty easy process.”

- John Lacheta, Manager of Facilities & Operations at Butler University

Diving Into the Inventory & Inspection Details

Let's explore Butler’s three distinct processes that leverage inventory and inspection management through StarRez for maximum staff efficiency and resident satisfaction.

#1 Process Inspection

The initial phase of the inspection process monitors room progress throughout the summer turnover period. To simplify the assessment process, rather than evaluating individual bed spaces or room amenities separately, staff members (including RAs) focus on the entire room or apartment unit.

“It significantly decreases the amount of work that you have to do compared to going room by room.”

- John Lacheta, Manager of Facilities & Operations at Butler University

RAs mainly use the mobile app for inspections, ensuring efficiency and real-time updates for other staff members such as housekeeping and maintenance personnel.

During the inspection, RAs mark items as "inspected," progressing through a sequence that includes verifying room vacancy, conducting work order inspections, and coordinating with housekeeping and painting services. Additionally, RAs assess the room for damages. Any identified damages are documented within the system, accompanied by relevant photographs.

Professional staff members review these items, assigning appropriate charges based on the RA's observations and documentation. As items are completed and charges are assigned, they are automatically moved to the completed category, optimizing workflows and ensuring thorough accountability throughout the process.

#2 Work Order Inspection

As mentioned above, RAs and staff members mark items as needing attention and provide relevant comments or images as needed during their mobile inspection. They also utilize predefined inventory types within StarRez to categorize the areas requiring attention, those types include structures, plumbing, furniture, and electrical. Upon completion of the inspection process, the work orders are automatically generated and consolidated across those four inventory types.

Butler configured the process this way to help combine tasks into one comprehensive list of work orders for each department, rather than inundate them with tons of individual, uncategorized work orders. This helps optimize communication and efficiency, minimizing individual work orders and maximizing real-time visibility.

“This new process with StarRez gets all the information in everyone's hands as soon as possible.”

- John Lacheta, Manager of Facilities & Operations at Butler University

#3 Room Condition Inspection

Following the work order inspection, Butler University gets ready for the next set of residents by launching the room condition inspection process. At this stage, the room is deemed complete, having undergone painting, cleaning, billing for damages, and the completion of any necessary work orders.

Once the student checks in, they receive an automatic email prompting them to complete the room condition report, indicating any existing damages, of which there would ideally be none. Students assess and report on their specific bed space or shared rooms, providing feedback on inventory items accordingly.

Once the student submits their assessment, it is reflected within their portal. This transparency is appreciated by students and their families, especially during a pivotal event such as move-in. Subsequently, professional staff review the submissions to ensure accuracy and address any potential issues (or accidentally selected issues) reported by students, such as flooding or lack of hot water.

Harmony Between Teams

During the webinar, John revealed that in the past, there was tension between Butler University's housing and facilities teams due to the challenges associated with inventory and inspections. The mere mention of the summer turn cycle instilled fear throughout the university staff. John described the summer process as arduous and ineffective. However, transitioning to StarRez has transformed the experience entirely, making it exceptionally smooth.

"The summer process was really a drag and it didn't go very well. Switching to StarRez has honestly made it a breeze.”

- John Lacheta, Manager of Facilities & Operations at Butler University

With StarRez, access to necessary information is readily available to all parties involved. This streamlined communication is particularly crucial during hectic periods, ensuring everyone remains informed and coordinated. John emphasized that minimal time is now spent on communication tasks that were once laborious. Using StarRez, he can easily reset rooms for the upcoming year or term by simply checking boxes within the system.

Learn more about how StarRez can optimize your inventory & inspection processes.