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In 2005 I was hired by SchoolDude as a Client Adviser. Growing up in the tech support and implementation side of the business, I gained a unique appreciation for the challenges and opportunities facing facility operations professionals at schools. In 2009 the Dude created a Success Management team, where I was fortunate to lead a small team responsible for engaging clients, assessing their opportunities, and helping to maximize their investment. In 2012 started wearing two big hats - Community Engagement Manager and Chief Data Dude. Today I'm very excited to be managing our Client Support team. My passion lies in leading this team of legendary support professionals, connecting peers in SchoolDude Nation, creating a valuable Community experience, and telling stories with data that inspire success in Facility Operations.
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When we're taking care of our day to day responsibilities, it can be hard to see where there are opportunities for improvement. That's why it important to take time throughout the year, to step back and take a big picture view. Dr.Edwards Deming referred to this as stepping back from working in the process, so you can work on the process. When working on the process, evaluate if you have opportunities to remove barriers that are stifling productivity.
1. Artificial bottlenecks
Are your Site Administrators approving 99% of everything that comes to their queue? Why not remove the bottleneck and manually route questionable requests for review? Ideally your requests go straight to a Team Lead or Technician based on the Craft and Location of the request, and bypass rubber stamps. Often I hear that approvers offer a much needed layer of protection from Requesters. But if 99% of the requests are being approved anyway, how much of a buffer is the approver? The assignment and actual work can be expedited most efficiently if unnecessary bottlenecks are removed.
2. Fear of change
Adopting new technology introduces opportunities for new processes. Before cloud computing, the idea of getting routine work order requests real time wasn't practical. Now, with online access to your CMMS virtually anywhere and smart phones being ubiquitous, assigning work by placing paper work orders into mail boxes is outdated and inefficient. Don't let your staff's fear of new technology impede progress. Technology is just another tool in the set to help get work done more efficiently. When laser levels first came out, there were skeptics- but now, who wouldn't leverage one?
3. Not making customers part of the process
Is improving customer service one of your goals? The best way to get started is to make them part of the process. Improve transparency and visibility into the Request to Completion process. Allowing Faculty, Teachers, and even Students to submit requests gets them a sense of ownership. Even if the request can't be completed right away, knowing that it's in a system that is transparent, assures customers their request didn't go into a black hole.
4. Limiting staff participation
Having one centralized person to assign and complete all work orders cuts out the most important people in the process- those doing the work! Let staff doing the work, login to process and complete it in your CMMS. Use the centralized resource to help with other important needs, like creating reports, supporting the staff, and the hundred other tasks that have to be balanced in the operations world.
5. Ignore the data you're collecting
This world of big data and analytics is forcing everyone to rethink their decision making process. If there's not data to back up your decision, then what are you basing it on? If you've been using a CMMS at all, you're collecting a wealth of information waiting to get insight from. Not sure where to start? Try your Dude Data Dashboard and this guide to the Top 5 Reports. Ignore at your own peril.