Maintenance & Operations (Managing the Physical Plant)

Benchmarking: A Checklist

Most leaders and managers would like to know how they are performing compared to their peers and/or competition. It must be that competitive nature in all of us that helps us strive to be better every day.

The following list of items is compiled from training, team building, and cultural development and is represented in a checklist format for potential implementation at your organization. This checklist is a more comprehensive version than the one that appears in the April print issue of College Planning & Management.

☐ Establish a mission statement that is committed to providing the best service possible through facility maintenance, enhancements, and safety initiatives in all campus environments.

☐ Work closely with the Health and Safety department on campus needs and reporting while maintaining budgetary responsibility. Work in conjunction with Capital Planning and Design/Construction for improved customer focus and efficiency.

☐ Incorporate all university functions related to operations into a centralized group.

☐ Get involved in the university mainstream; establish and award a Student Scholarship sponsored by the employees on your team.

☐ Develop/reorganize into business units, including budgets and zones, for improved accountability.

☐ Work directly with parking and transportation regarding routes for special events, athletics, construction schedules, commencement, and fall semester residential hall move-in.

☐ Implement a new CMMS work order system on campus for allowing improved transparency for the customer and improved cost tracking for labor and materials.

☐ Close outlying warehouse and buildings; centralize all operations into fewer locations and establish a red-line method of inventory management.

☐ Establish an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), including the establishment of emergency planning initiatives.

☐ Reorganize and consolidate departments.

☐ Track work order closeouts. Post the numbers on a communication board.

☐ Establish business partnerships with vendors of choice, including quarterly performance reviews that include preventative maintenance.

☐ Work with Purchasing and other areas to scope and bid the custodial supplies contract.

☐ Volunteer to be a job descriptions/pay classification evaluator.

☐ Promote and improve your sustainability program to a level that it is featured in the Green Edition of the Princeton Guide. Develop a climate action plan.

☐ Implement bi-monthly informational staff meetings and established semester communication meetings with all team members, including students.

☐ Work with outside organizations to establish and compare benchmarks for operational data including facilities, capital improvements, headcount, and infrastructure budgeting.

☐ Reorganize and cross train workers to include multiple work skill sets.

☐ Update uniforms for your team members for improved appearance and performance.

☐ Reduce the number of fleet of vehicles, saving insurance, fuel, and maintenance.

☐ Establish and implement preventative maintenance programs that include items such as air handlers, chillers, roofs, steam traps, water treatment, elevators, alarms, and fire suppression.

☐ Reorganize/redesign work processes and work groups into zones to produce maximum results with decreasing resources, including new shift patterns and unique outsourcing techniques.

☐ Chair a search team or get involved in a search at the university.

☐ Add shifts and redistribute the workforce team to include trades for coverage of the campus 24/7, reducing overtime, emergency call backs, and building damage.

☐ Create a building automation (BAS) and control function, command center, and structure; then integrate the system with the existing power plant and other building systems.

☐ Update and establish links to the website to improve communication and awareness.

☐ Form a partnership with a number of vendors and establish vendor managed inventory (VMI).

☐ Provide regular opportunities for skill enhancement, instruction for new/existing safety techniques, supervisory skills, interaction with supervisors, and leadership of the departments, including monthly safety focus groups and leadership training.

☐ Develop and update work rules and job descriptions in conjunction with Human Resources to improve performance expectations for all functional groups throughout, ensuring excellent customer service.

☐ Develop and maintain effective working relationships and communication channels with university stakeholders’ issues pertaining to physical facilities, grounds, heating/cooling, custodial, maintenance and repairs, energy conservation, and sustainability through biweekly staff and semester meetings.

☐ Promote and develop a building representative program across campus for improved communication and awareness for a proactive approach regarding maintenance, health and safety, intrusion alarms, and police notification.

☐ Establish a student Green Fund for sustainability projects throughout campus to help promote green initiatives and energy savings.

☐ Participate in the Recyclemania recycling contest in the residence halls.

☐ Establish a “Re-Store” concept, a student-driven retail concept (Office of Sustainability).

☐ Implement a “When You Move Out, Do Not Throw It Out” program in residence halls, encouraging students to donate anything and everything that is still useable in collection boxes (Office of Sustainability) throughout campus to help students better understand recycling.

Be Courageous

Many of these items will take courage to implement, as they will impact many of the cultural and historical aspects of the organization. They will not happen overnight, and remember—we need to hit singles to keep the momentum progressing. As you continue to implement the items, celebrate your successes but stay focused on getting better every day and be sure to remind your team of the importance of improvement. Set goals that are achievable and benchmark your organization with others to see how you are progressing.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Bruce A. Meyer, Ed.D., is assistant vice president of Campus Operations at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, appointed in April 2010. His team currently manages 5,000,000 square feet on a campus with over 20,000 students, faculty and staff.

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