Opportunity: An esteemed East-Coast private university operated a large medical school campus, where extensive research was conducted in conjunction with numerous sister hospitals. This campus included seventeen buildings, encompassing over 1.4 million square feet. Behind the scenes of this prestigious institution, many activities were required on a daily business to ensure effective and efficient operation of these facilities. Besides the fact that world-renowned medical researchers expected a comfortable work environment, some research experiments were highly dependent upon precise temperature control, and subject to losing years of research investment if power, heating or cooling systems failed. Although a university-based, unionized department had been providing facilities maintenance services for several decades, the medical school was aggressively pursuing methods to obtain the highest quality and most cost-effective services, including the possibility of utilizing external contractors. If the university-based service organization was to retain its position with the medical school, it would have to demonstrate that it could compete with the private sector to provide the highest quality and most cost-effective services. This would require substantial process and performance improvement across many disciplines, and would require a culture change to emphasize customer satisfaction over internal preferences.
Performance Excellence Audit: Interviews with customers and members of the Facilities Maintenance organization, and examination of work processes and critical incidents, identified numerous problems and opportunities for improvement:
Customers had little respect for the Facilities Maintenance organization, and did not perceive them as proactive in understanding their needs or responsive in providing services.
Customers were very frustrated with the long delays they encountered when they called into the Control Center to request maintenance services. There was a high number of abandoned calls because queue times were excessive.
It often required days simply to get work requests entered into the work order system.
The supervisory process was almost non-existent. Assignment of work orders was uncontrolled, and was backlogged for months. Work order status and productivity were not tracked. Over 6,000 work orders were backlogged in the computer system, and it was impossible to know which were valid and which simply hadn't been deleted from the system when they were completed or cancelled.
Preventive maintenance had been abandoned as impossible, and was leading to increased breakdowns and service needs.
The trades groups felt that they were on an impossible mission, with more work than could possibly be accomplished.
Operating and Management Process Improvements:
A list of all customer contacts was developed, and a position of Facilities Relationship Manager was created, each assigned responsibility for a specific group of customers. To support a proactive, rather than reactive, relationship with customers, a customer contact tracking method was implemented.
Applied Performance Science training was given to all Facilities Relationship Managers and Facilities Operations Managers and Supervisors.
Members from the trades and management were recruited onto small process-improvement teams, and given full responsibility to map, analyze and make value-adding improvements to specific core processes.
To establish an understanding of the business from the customer's perspective, the entire process was mapped beginning with a customer request and including all activities until a customer was satisfied with the services provided.
Process maps were analyzed to identify opportunities to improve process cycle time, quality, customer satisfaction and cost-efficiency.
The Control Center, which handled incoming customer service calls, developed new procedures to ensure faster, more professional and more accurate customer response.
All trades operations processes were mapped and analyzed, particularly the work order entry, assignment and tracking activities.
Process controls and performance measures were developed for each process.
Facilities Relationship Managers effectively refocused their time usage toward five priorities: 1) Proactive monthly meetings with customers, 2) scheduled building tours, equipment inspections and process quality checks, 3) daily reviews of work order status, 4) timely capture of incoming customer calls, and 5) timely response to customers requests. Performance was virtually doubled on all priorities.
The Control Center implemented customer satisfaction measurements, and established specific procedures and standards to answer incoming customer calls, obtain relevant information, and expedite work order entry. Routing of incoming calls was redesigned and a process quality checklist was implemented. The percentage of incoming calls which went into the queue because they were not answered within four rings dropped from 20% to 0%.
The work intake and entry process was redesigned from a delayed batch process to enable real-time work order entry and assignment to appropriate trades personnel within two hours.
The work order management process was redesigned, detailing more specifically the way in which foremen would obtain, sort, prioritize, assign and track progress against all open work orders. Better organizing work assignments, and obtaining more information about work requirements, substantially reduced the amount of non-value-adding travel time required for trades personnel to walk from their shop to campus customer locations. \
Specific procedures and process controls were developed for trades personnel and operators. The percentage of work orders completed on schedule increased from a baseline average of 40% to over 80% and maintained this improvement for the next three years.
April 13, 2008.
Copyright © 2008 Conard Associates, Inc.