Automation Software Technology Process System Business concept

In a 2009 report to the University of Georgia Facilities Management Division (FMD) by the campus-wide Review Team for university accreditation self-analysis, it was reported that FMD was effective in delivering services covering the core responsibilities of the operation and maintenance of buildings and grounds. While the majority of building occupants felt they received quality, efficient service from the staff, FMD wanted to continue improving its service delivery and business process.

Since that report, there have been many ways in which UGA sought improvement, namely through the utilization of facility data analysis. This included the purchase and use of integrated facility maintenance management software in 2009 and the creation of a FMD Work Request Center in late 2017.

UGA’s use of a facility maintenance management software program allows financial cost-accounting metrics, work order management, inventory control, and preventative maintenance planning/forecasting tasks to be aligned into one central program shared by multiple operational departments. In a nutshell, the technology brings several facility maintenance processes together from customer or staff-initiated work requests, the ability to electronically track projects and work requests, input costing mechanisms, and allows for work resolutions to be shared with multiple FMD departments, as well as with customers.

Facility managers who routinely analyze and track operational data related to mechanical and heating/ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are not new. However, there is still a disparity in equating data or trend analysis in many K-12 and university facility cleaning management settings for customer work order requests.

Facility cleaning managers at UGA use the maintenance management software to track open work orders, assess time to complete work, assess inventory needs based on material requisition trends by departmental usage or event scheduling, predict staffing needs for overtime (based on weekend campus function schedules or athletic events, for example), and project future classroom usage numbers in real-time to help schedule cleaning demands. Additionally, the facility management software is used to assess custodial material costs, identify spending trends within specific facility areas, and to assess the number of cleaning equipment failures. These all lead to improvements in our cleaning service operations and streamlined efficiencies.

Tackle Work Requests

The second area where UGA has seen improvements is through the FMD Work Request Center (WRC). This was established to serve as a central facility, “one stop shop” that crosses the nine FMD departments. Those departments include Business and Technology, Energy Services, Engineering, Grounds, Project Management, Operations and Maintenance, Services, Sustainability and FMD Administration.

WRC provides campus stakeholders in these departments with the facility cleaning and maintenance answers needed for their work and learning spaces. The program also assists in establishing new customer work requests for event support (non-standard/reimbursable cleaning and event resources) and reimbursable small or large renovation requests of UGA’s classrooms, laboratories, offices and grounds.

The benefits of the FMD Work Request Center don’t stop there. The WRC staff also develops and implements electronic customer survey platforms, monitors the online chat line and social media sites, and provides related data analysis to FMD departments to help improve service delivery gathered from these platforms.

For example, WRC provides feedback on the increasing work requests generated out of particular areas of campus, which, in turn, prompts the cleaning staff to increase attention in those specific areas. WRC also provides trend data on increased numbers of roof leak repairs in a facility, for example, and how cleaning staff can help monitor future issues.

The utilization of data is key to establishing more transparent communications between the cleaning staff and the operations and maintenance departments. Many times, cleaning inefficiencies may be directly tied to building maintenance repair needs. By utilizing data tracking to review electronic maintenance repair work orders, facility condition reports, scheduled construction project timelines, preventative maintenance information, and maintenance technician notes, the cleaning staff can better communicate facility maintenance issues to customers. This leads to a shared commitment in building oversight between all stakeholders, custodial staff, maintenance staff and building inhabitants.

Kimberly Thomas is the Director of Facilities Management at the University of Georgia — Facilities Management Division. She was formerly the Executive Director of Plant Services and Custodial Operations for the Clarke County School District from 2011-2017. During which, the department was named winner of the Green Cleaning Award for Schools and Universities in 2015 and received a Green Cleaning Award Honorable Mention in 2014. Her department has also received recognition for its commitment to green cleaning and sustainability from the Healthy Schools Network, Environmental Protective Agency – Georgia state office, and U.S. Green Building Council – Georgia division. Kimberly serves on the Green Clean Schools Steering Committee of Healthy Schools Campaign and is a member of USGBC-Georgia.