CUSTOMER FOCUS IS A KEY COMPONENT OF EFFECTIVE FACILITIES MANAGEMENT. VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS (FACULTY, STUDENTS, STAFF, AND OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENTS) MUST FEEL THEIR NEEDS ARE HEARD, UNDERSTOOD, AND ACTED UPON. VARIOUS TOOLS MUST BE IN PLACE TO ENSURE CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION, ASSESS AND ASSIMILATE WHAT IS SAID, AND IMPLEMENT PROCEDURES TO ACT ON EXPRESSED NEEDS.
- Customer survey interviews will be conducted with key administrators across the NMSU campus and OFS will use this customer feedback for process improvement.
- Periodic building surveys with OFS personnel and the Building Monitors will become a mechanism to determine maintenance activities. An annual meeting for the Building Monitors will be held to identify customer needs, to communicate the services provided by OFS, and to explain the methods used to request these services.
- Facilities and Services implemented an Annual Customer Service survey and posts the results on the website.
- The survey results have generally been improved upon every year.
NMSU Facilities and Services sends a link to a customer service survey annually through email to everyone in the NMSU system, as we have found that we are more likely to receive constructive feedback that can be acted upon than with mini‐surveys after each work order, inspection, project, or, in the case of the Fire Department, each response call. Remarkably, most departments have continued to improve their scores every year despite receiving high marks to begin with in 2009.54 We solicit and then review the comments, good or bad, and we have received numerous additional positive comments about our transparency, honesty, and commitment to continuous improvement. In our 2014 survey, 78% of respondents indicated that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the service they had received. This was a slight increase from the prior year’s survey. Most surprisingly, less than 10% of respondents reported being either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the overall quality of our services. This is a marked improvement over the 2013 survey, where roughly 17% of the respondents had registered some level of dissatisfaction.
We meet with our building monitors annually, and we have regular meetings with Corbett Student Union, Athletics, Residential Housing, and Special Events management to review services and utility costs.55 The University Architect and the Associate Vice President communicate and/or meet with the deans of the colleges and the presidents of each Community College no less than annually to formulate the NMSU System Capital Outlay requests.56
Environmental Health and Safety takes a collaborative approach to laboratory and safety inspections, partnering with the academic units rather than policing them.57 The Fire Department also conducts building safety inspections and works with the campus departments on building life safety issues.58
Facilities and Services places a premium on “roles and responsibilities” because we believe that this is an essential ingredient of effective teamwork. As with most university facilities management organizations, some overlap between groups does exist, and that can lead to duplication and excessive costs without proper oversight and management. We hold a weekly triage meeting with directors and staff to manage the proper division of work between the Facility Operations shops and the Project Development and Engineering group.59 The Executive Director of Facility Operations and the Fire Chief meet regularly to review fire alarm and suppression testing and compliance, and the managers and directors of Environmental Health and Safety sit in on numerous meetings to coordinate asbestos abatement, lab safety activities, and compliance with Spill Prevention and Storm Water Management programs.60
The roles and responsibilities of each department are posted on the website, and in most cases this includes a list of billable and non‐billable services. The Work Control staff meets regularly with Facility Operations to make sure that all inquiries are answered correctly and a desk reference for Work Control has been developed.61 In the event that work order adjustments are necessary, the Business Office follows a consistent process as defined in the Facilities and Services Procedure Manual.62 The majority of Auxiliary custodial and maintenance staff were consolidated this past year with the Facilities and Services maintenance and custodial units, and regular meetings are conducted to evaluate the services and make improvements to services.
Grounds, the Central Plant, and the Auto Shop in Facilities publish tri‐fold pamphlets to hand out to the community and when conducting tours, and Project Development and Engineering, Environmental Health and Safety, the Fire Department, and the Office of Sustainability publish annual reports.64
In addition, we work with University Communications on communications to our external customers and for news releases; and, when we have an outage that impacts more than a few users, we issue an outage notification to those who are affected. If a resident or customer is not in the office or room when staff arrive for service, the technicians leave a door hanger or a service card.65
Facilities and Services uses the APPA Operational Guidelines for Maintenance, Grounds, and Custodial Services as a baseline for service levels, and we use the APPA Facilities Performance indicators (FPI) as well as Sightlines and our Customer Service Survey to measure outcomes. Our services are published on the web pages of the respective departments. Custodial tasks are listed on the website, and because the Grounds Department also bills the entire campus through a Plant Operation and Maintenance Applied Charge, we developed a complete grounds annual task list to show how those charges are calculated.66
In addition, Facilities and Services provides maintenance to Auxiliaries and Athletics through an innovative and creative Service Level Agreement that provides for maintenance and custodial on a per square footage rate. We also use this method for our relationship with the United States Department of Agriculture facility, the NASA Sugarman Space Grant facility, and the Genesis research and incubator facility.67 In our experience, depending upon the non‐educational, auxiliary departments to place billable maintenance work orders leads to reactive rather than proactive maintenance. The billing of non‐educational departments in advance through a Service Level Agreement allows NMSU to maintain our facility maintenance standards.
Facilities and Services must comply with codes, university standards, and environmental regulations, and as a result, meeting our customers’ needs and wants can be challenging. In addition, some customer expectations cannot be met or exceeded because of constraints in budget, staffing, service changes, and schedules. Each unit tackles this challenge through a variety of communication methods. To help make compliance positive and proactive, Environmental Health and Safety has a “Friends of Safety Award” that is given annually to an individual in a campus department for their efforts in promoting safety.68
Facilities supervisors and technicians work with Building Monitors to make sure that we are meeting the building occupants’ needs, and Project Development and Engineering issues bi‐weekly email updates with a Customer Bill of Rights to all project customers.69
As with most universities, Facilities and Services has multiple ways for users to request services. We meet regularly with the building monitors, and as they are the most familiar with our services, our preferred method is for them to enter requests for services in AiM, our computerized maintenance management system. This allows for a quicker response and better tracking, as the building monitors know how to look up work orders and track the status. So that anyone can monitor the progress of a work order, we encourage the staff technicians to use the “Notes Log.”70 However, this is truly a “work in progress”, as the technicians are at various levels of skill with using this feature. Our website has a section for AiM training.71
We believe that it is good customer service to take requests in whatever manner they are received, and our staff routinely helps customers with entering work orders and project requests.
In response to feedback that we have received, we have worked diligently on accelerating service and project delivery times as well as communicating any issues that impede timely completion. Each manager and director in Facility Operations has developed a personal method to track outstanding issues, and the Project Managers in Project Development and Engineering issue bi‐weekly updates to the customers.72 Both groups meet regularly with their high volume customers.
Facilities and Services conducts an annual customer service survey; our survey solicitation email includes verbiage from the APPA criteria that we want our customers “to feel that their needs are heard and acted upon.” To keep that commitment, we review the survey results in numerous meetings across the organization. As mentioned throughout our submission, we meet regularly with many different constituent groups across the campus.
As we noted earlier, the most‐often repeated constructive criticisms we receive in listening sessions relate to cost, length of service time, communications, and that processes can be rigid and inflexible. In response, we have made presentations that discuss why things take so long and cost so much with constituent groups such as CADRE, the Committee of Associate Deans for Research (we also keep a copy of the article, “The High Cost of Building a Better University” by Donald J. Guckert and Jeri Ripley King where we can find it). We schedule regular meetings in Facility Operations and in Project Development and Engineering with the auxiliaries departments and Athletics, two of our largest volume customers.
We do believe that we can always improve on our service delivery and that it is necessary to act upon what our customers tell us. Facility Operations tracks and measures progress on reducing work order cycle time, both with and without “materials on hand.” Project Development and Engineering (PDE) has several Key Performance Indicators to help guide them in the progress on their goal of accelerating project delivery times. The materials warehouse was recently moved under Facilities and Services with a mandate to improve material delivery times and that effort has just started.
The Project Managers in Project Development and Engineering issue bi‐weekly project status reports to let the customer know how their project is progressing, and we maintain an email alias where people can ask us anything they want or report issues such as broken sprinkler heads: ASKFS@nmsu.edu. The Work Control desk, the Executive Director of Facility Operations, and the Associate Vice President of Facilities and Services monitor this email alias. Many of the inquiries are about the status of a work order, and these are usually answered almost immediately.
As we mentioned elsewhere, empowerment in a large institution is a challenge but it is the counter balance to inflexibility. We encourage decision‐making and solving problems at the lowest possible level within the delegated boundaries in order to keep things moving.
Many customers have asked if AiM, our facility management system, could be made easier to use. In order
to meet this need and make that a reality, we purchased AiM IQ, which is the Assetworks “intelligent dashboard.”73 This “front‐end” will be installed in the upcoming year.
- The OFS mission will be clearly stated in the strategic plan and published on the website.
- The OFS organization chart will be available on the website as will departmental information detailing responsibilities, services, work request procedures, and contact information.
- Service levels will be clearly defined. When possible, the new work order system will be integrated with the website so that customers are able to view the status of their work requests online.
- This is an ongoing process; regular building monitor meetings are scheduled and the website is continuously being improved.
- The new work order system AiM has aided with customer entry of work requests and allows for them to track the progress of their work.
- A Town Hall meeting is planned for FY 2013‐2014.
- The Town hall was held, and Facilities conducted a presentation on projects at CADRE.
- The results of the Customer Service Survey generally have improved annually.
Facilities and Services makes an “all‐out effort” to communicate with the campus. We publish regular employee newsletters and then share these with the campus, and we almost always receive positive comments. We have emailed a Customer Service Survey to everyone in the NMSU System annually since 2009, and our scores of general satisfaction have always been favorable. We have been able to generally improve our scores each year as a result of discussion at every level and with every unit.
We use AiM from Assetworks as our computerized maintenance management system, and this allows for customers to track progress on their work orders. Admittedly, as with many complex software systems, the AiM system is not nearly as user friendly as we would like, and we have an online training module on our website to help users learn to use the features.74
We just bought and are in the process of implementing AiM IQ, a dashboard that will help us work more efficiently by improving access to shared asset data and by promoting greater transparency across the organization.
Every component unit in Facilities and Services has a website where their services are published.
Occasionally, some customers will question if certain project services can be provided at a more reasonable cost by directly hiring outside contractors or vendors for projects. To proactively address these questions, Project Development and Engineering prepared a document showing the value we add at every stage in the project process.75 We also now post a sign by many of our major projects that states, “Facilities Improvement Project – Proudly Managed by Project Development and Engineering.”76 We strive to be the “provider of choice.”