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How to explain facilities impacts at the institution level and obtain buy-in

March 2, 2022

Jen Cox

Missouri State University

Jeremy Davis

Miami University-Ohio

Tanara Teal-Tate

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.

The three of us serve in varied capacities at our different institutions. We are connected with one common goal of providing some aspect of what often times falls in Facilities at institutions. Jen is responsible for space management, Jeremy is directly responsible for facilities operations, and Tanara is responsible for parking operations.

Facilities is critical to advancing institutional goals. While it is not always readily apparent to our customers and senior leaders, work that Facilities staff perform is critical to enrollment, student success and research. For example, the work that grounds crews do with plantings across campus provides an outdoor environment that draws in prospective students, scheduled preventive maintenance that technicians complete on HVAC units contribute to the student experience through comfortable learning environments, and custodial staff carefully clean research labs to provide for an environment conducive to precise experiments.

In this project, we asked ourselves: how can we better explain impacts of facilities at the institutional unit and division level and obtain buy in with executive leaders? As part of this evaluation, we identified the following opportunities for success:

  • Challenge in receiving quality feedback from campus community
  • Shortcomings or overall satisfaction involving service delivery
  • Lack of realistic and timely information
  • Quality metrics for communicating with customers
  • Understanding the reasons “why” and how services we offer benefit campus

Each of us developed solutions for our institutions utilizing this framework.

For Miami University, Jeremy is recommending his team invite feedback at the closing of each work order utilizing a short survey via CMMS. Survey data will be automatically populated in a dashboard, and relevant results will be consistently communicated with customers to aid in planning.

For Missouri State University (MSU), Jen is recommending enrollment initiatives such as facilities staff campus tours with Admissions to ensure tour routes are well maintained, facilitation of Admissions work orders, and enhanced selfie opportunities on the route. MSU will engage frontline staff by growing a customer-centric culture, providing a mechanism for staff feedback and enhancing growth and training opportunities.

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To advance campus understanding of work impact, MSU will implement dashboards and open houses to explain rates, break down staffing levels by team, and share the capital plan as well as provide a listening time to solicit feedback. The university will better gauge customer expectations by communicating expected resolution time frames for commonly requested work partnering with building coordinators to conduct monthly building inspections and identify urgent and unexpected issues. Dedicating a page on the facilities website for resources coordinators frequently need is also recommended.

For University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), Tanara is recommending engaging facilities in receiving workflow information and automatic notifications regarding status in the CMMS as well as utilizing the CMMS to understand workflow needs and timelines for finishing jobs from start to finish. UW will also coordinate with shared governance groups to foster transparency across campus and utilize networks to deploy critical information. They will gather customer feedback to aid proactive planning and make use of EAB resources to improve survey design, deployment, and analysis.

We would like to thank Kimpton Farren and Michael Fischer at EAB for connecting us with resources. We would like to thank our university administrators for allowing us to take part in and thrive with the EAB fellowship.

See the fellows’ blogs from the capstone projects

Jen Cox, Jeremy Davis, Tanara Teal-Tate and others participated in EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship in fall 2021

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