WAMS: Workload Allocations Management System
Managing academics’ workload allocations is typically done through complex spreadsheets, simply because workload models are often managed at the School or Department level and evolve over time. Custom-built database applications are usually not flexible enough to manage more than one model, nor allow the models to change from year to year. WAMS offers flexible, web-enabled method to managed allocations regardless of the number, type, and scope of academic workload models used in the institution.
WAMS Design Philosophy
Spreadsheets are great! At least, for some tasks. But not for academic workload management. WAMS is web-based, database driven application that removes the annoyances of unreadable cell formulas and faculty row copying in favour of guaranteed data integrity. As a bonus, allocations can be viewed and updated by many people simultaneously, and reporting is consistent. And if you love spreadsheet, WAMS supports easy export of all its data to Excel
Keep it Simple, Stupid
The KISS engineering principle ensures that applications are fit for purpose and cost effective. In combination with Loosely Coupled design philosophy that WAMS adheres to, our software is small but beautiful and can be deployed either independently of or alongside any other institutional software such as student management systems.
Genericity done right
Custom-built database applications are often not general enough to be able to deal with different workload models at the same time. Not only do models vary across academic sections and time,
processes do too. WAMS is designed to be usable in faculties and institutions where multiple workload models and processes are deployed in the various departments and schools.
WAMS uses the Role Based Access Control method to support multiple processes. Decide whether academics can see their colleagues’ allocations or can propose specific allocations for their units for considerations by the Head of School. Or set it up such that workload management is budget planning tool only. The choice is yours.
The defining strength of WAMS is that it is designed and implemented by academics who were former Head of Department and are passionate Computer Science lecturers. The former ensures that the application is throughly in tune with the needs of academic managers, while the latter means that the system’s foundations are based on solid theory and informed by best practice.
WAMS sports a range of features designed to optimise the workload allocation process and to enhance organisations’ resource management. Best of all – new features are constantly being added.
WAMS is designed to be used in institutions where both workload models as well as processes may be devolved to the level of Faculties, School, or Departments. That means that it can handle multiple academic workload models at the same time while allowing consistent tracking and reporting. The software can manage a wide range of workload model types; more than 20 individual models have been tested so far. It supports a high degree of complexity in rules and supports the evolution of those over time. WAMS can handle multiple campuses as well as teaching delivery modes (such as on-line vs on-campus). It also supports an arbitrary number of Envelopes to group workload allocations – common envelopes includes Teaching, Research, and Service but my also include PhD Supervision etc.
Staff and Unit Workload Management
Managing unit (subject/course) and staff workload go hand in hand. A teaching allocation in one affects the other, so WAMS supports both a Staff and a Unit perspective on workload management. For staff, the system supports setting targets for the various Envelopes defined in the workload model.
Actual allocations are then compared against the target. For units, some allocations may be based on enrolments;
WAMS validates the allocations against those. For both staff and units, details printable reports can be downloaded. It’s also possible to send email notifications to staff if their workload allocations have changed since they las accessed them.
At its core WAMS is a data editing and viewing tool. The software’s reporting capabilities are grouped into three categories. First, a small number of dynamic and generic reports are built-in to support much of the day-to-day reporting requirements. These reports allow managers to check on casualisation levels, project staffing requirements, and enhance their budget management. Secondly, all reports (and also the data entry screens) can be exported in variety of formats including Microsoft Excel. Finally, XML data feeds are accessible for use in reporting software such as SSRS.
Reporting can be done at any level in the organisation’s hierarchy – an arbitrary section depth is supported.
The Workload Allocation Management System can be deployed to universities that utilise different terminology. Courses and Semesters can be shown as Units and Trimesters instead, for example. WAMS can adapt to multiple processes mainly through the use of its Role Based Access Control module. It can be set up to be used only by a handful of workload managers, or by all academic staff in a Section, or various options in between. Finally, the software can be made to import data from other institutional databases and show it side-by-side to corresponding WAMS data.
WAMS keeps track of allocations over time. For unit allocations there is a comprehensive versioning mechanism that doubles as drafts repository. Institutions that wish to do so, may use this feature to allow allocations to be created in a bottom-up fashion, rather than a top-down manner.
Various other features are available in WAMS – the list is growing at a steady pace and new additions are explained in the user documentation.
Software as a service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is made available on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. User access WAMS via a web browser.
Trial a basic version of WAMS in a sandbox for a limited time and free of charge. Your academic section will need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the USQ Office of Research Development to gain access. You’ll also need to work with the WAMS team to arrange initial setup and provide trial data.
Following successful testing of the software in the Trail arrangement, a full-featured version of WAMS may be deployed in your academic section after completing contract negotiation with the USQ Office of Research Development.
Free Use Programme
Your academic section may qualify for the Free Use programme if it meets certain criteria (for example, size of the section). The programme essentially entails continuing with the Trail sandbox environment for a specified amount of time. Contact us for more information.
- Legal requirements
- Trail and Free Use: MoU
- Full deployment: contract
- Setup requirements:
- A list of courses (units / subjects)
- A list of staff in spreadsheet format
- Terminology, Section hierarchy, and other localisation information
WAMS is currently deployed in three Australian universities and is being trialled in a handful of others. We can introduce the software to your team in a free one-hour online demonstration, via Skype, Google Hangout, or other teleconferencing technology. Contact us to arrange a demo.