By Sean Devaney
from the July/August 2015 issue
In fiscal year 2013, Broward College in South Florida accepted the challenge of standardizing college-wide facilities and services. Doing so required that all trades including HVAC, electrical, fleet, locksmith, landscape/grounds, and custodial services would be reviewed from a college-wide perspective. Two underlying questions guided the plan to restructure and standardize operations. The first was: how do we provide quality customer service, best practices, financial and labor-use efficiencies, with current staffing levels and annual budget allocations that are distributed throughout the system?
The second question was: What can we do in-house with skilled trade staff versus contracted services?
The goal of the Facilities Management Department at Broward College is to improve the level of services offered continually and to increase student and employee satisfaction while providing a clean, safe environment for teaching and learning throughout the college.
The previous facilities business model was a decentralized organizational structure. Four campus facilities managers reported to the dean of business affairs at each location. Theirs was a divided structure in which each location prioritized projects and competed for funding based on individual campus needs. Each campus essentially had its own wish list rather than creating a comprehensive, prioritized needs assessment and funding based on the needs of the college.
Facilities services were clustered, all providing various operations, with no consistency in service level, or standard procedures from location to location.
The decentralized structure worked well for many years, and it can be an effective model. However, because of the college’s growth over the past decade, it became apparent that a new approach was needed to assure all campuses and centers received consistent, effective, and efficient service.
Serving 70,000 students and 2,500 employees on a daily basis, Broward College is a robust educational institution with three thriving, full-service campuses. The college represents a system-wide total of more than two million square feet, which includes the Downtown Center, Business Center, and seven satellite locations.
The Case For Centralization
It is important to note the level of work that must precede any type of change of this magnitude. The Broward College Facilities Management Department made this transition after lengthy assessments, discussions, and administrative meetings that took place throughout 2013. Key players in this analysis were the campus facilities managers, electrical and energy management system (EMS) managers, facilities administration, and consultant services.
Stakeholders spent 2013 examining all operations, using a combination of outside consultant services and in-house management expertise. After an exhaustive critical self-analysis of our operations we presented a centralized organizational structure to the college administration and the board of trustees and gained their approval to restructure. The change took place in July 2014.
With the new organizational structure in place, the newly formed Facilities Maintenance Operations Group now reports to the district director of maintenance. The following roles report to the district director, and overall this department consists of 100 full-time employees:
- Four campus facilities managers
- Fleet services manager
- Locksmith services manager
- HVAC/EMS Manager
- Electrical services manager
- Landscape services manager
- Administrative assistant
Additionally, a Custodial Services Department consisting of approximately 150 contract employees and other maintenance-related contract services fall under the management and oversight of the district director of maintenance.
In addition to the maintenance, mechanical, and electrical systems operations, other departments that deal with campus infrastructure include the Construction and Design and Planning and Capital Budget divisions. Both departments have district director level oversight. All three department heads report to the associate vice president of facilities management, and the changes that were made have resulted in a dynamic working relationship focused on one common goal—providing superior educational facilities that contribute positively to teaching and student success.
Many positive changes have occurred as a result of this restructuring which have allowed for increased cost efficiencies, improved quality, and enhanced customer service. More importantly, all changes were done with a keen eye on the college’s main focus of student success and safety. Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum, and all changes and modifications should always lead back to the consumer or end user. In this case, that is the student population. Some highlights of the restructuring are outlined here.
1. Replacement of the college owned fleet of vehicles with new, fuel efficient models. Some benefits of this transition include the following.
- All vehicles are white with Broward College logos providing a clean, crisp image of the college brand.
- Consistent look throughout the county
- Provided a boost to employee morale
- Leased under state contract
- Fuel savings
- Improved safety
- Improved work order completion rate; As part of the vehicle fleet analysis we performed a condition assessment of all utility vehicles (145 golf carts) and small equipment. This allowed for removal of equipment determined to be at end of life, and for budgeting replacement needs.
2. Formed a new Electrical Services Division. Some of the benefits of this initiative include:
- Introduction of a new electrical supervisor position that reports to the electrical services manager
- The assignment of two electricians at each campus
- Increased cost efficiencies through the utilization of in-house tradesmen versus contract services
- The ability to partner electricians for project work completion
- The purchase of a bucket truck to service light poles (previously a contracted service)
- A consistent and methodical plan review for new construction and renovation projects was created, ensuring that standards and code compliance are satisfied.
- Improved work order response and completion
3. Creation of a college-wide position of landscape manager position. Benefits of this action include:
- The naming of an in-house candidate to the position, so it was a promotion from within (always a benefit)
- A college-wide focus on the quality and consistency of work from site to site
- Improved oversight of in-house staff and contracted services
- Focus on improving “first impressions” with campus main entrances undergoing landscape and lighting renovations
- Standardization of landscape furnishings and plant selections.
- Plan review for all new construction and renovations, ensuring landscape policy and standards are satisfied
- Improved work order completion rate
4. Created a locksmith manager position. Benefits of this development include:
- Another promotion from within
- Expanded locksmith workshop, including a garage, storage, work room, and office.
- The introduction of three new fully equipped locksmith vans
- We split the system into areas of responsibility. This provides consistent customer service by assigning location responsibilities to individual locksmiths. It provides service technician familiarity to campus community. And locksmiths take ownership of areas of responsibility.
- We created a consistent plan review for new construction and renovation projects, ensuring standards are satisfied.
- Improved work order completion rate
5. Continuously monitoring energy consumption and mechanical systems through the Energy Management Department.
- Hired a consultant to audit all utility accounts and coordinate efforts directly with the utility companies to reduce rates, in many instances resulting in substantial savings
- In-house HVAC journeymen provide daily preventive maintenance services throughout the college system. This preventive maintenance results in overall cost savings.
- EMS manager is responsible for the 24/7 oversight of staff and the mechanical systems.
- Electrical meters installed at all building locations to monitor energy consumption at each building location
- Monitor mechanical systems with building automated systems
- Installed well water systems to provide make-up water to the chiller cooling tower systems, resulting in substantial water utility savings
As with any large institution, there is a growing list of deferred maintenance needs. To best address this, condition assessments were completed, using contract service professionals with trade expertise in the following areas: roofing systems; elevators; building envelopes; roadways/parking lots; and lighting.
Assessments were performed throughout FY13 /14. With complete assessments on hand, the facilities administration team had a valuable tool in which to prioritize project needs, throughout all three campuses based on present conditions. This allows the team to identify project funding more effectively over the next several fiscal years.
For example, a complete roofing condition assessment was performed on 68 buildings. The assessments provided condition ratings of 1 to 5; photo documentation; and repair, renovate, replace recommendations with estimated budgets for each building.
The assessment allowed the facilities division to hone in on the most pressing needs in the system. All roofs rated between 1 and 2 (poor) were replaced over the last two fiscal years. Over the next two fiscal years the focus will be on those buildings that had a roof rating between 2.5 and 3. Some will require a complete reroof while others may simply require partial repairs to existing roofing systems.
Additionally, the roofing consultant contracted to perform condition assessments also provided the overall scope of work and managed the projects. This includes scheduling and oversight of required engineering testing as well as weekly inspection reports of the project once the roofing term contractor was on the job—from project initiation to completion. All work is performed in conjunction with, and under the watchful eye of, college code officials.
Now in the second year of the centralization of facilities services it is evident that the quality of work, employee morale, customer satisfaction, and cost efficiencies have all improved. A recent customer satisfaction survey released in December 2014 for both Custodial Contract Services and Facilities Management gave high praise, with an overall rating of “very satisfied.”
Like any organizational change, the centralization of these services came with some contention and trepidation. It was a shift in campus administration responsibilities, facilities management culture, budget responsibilities, and in how Broward College overall now examines and prioritizes its resources.
As district director of college-wide maintenance at Broward College in Broward County, South Florida Devaney’s responsibilities include: fleet maintenance, locksmith services, EMS/HVAC services, electrical services, landscape services, campus facilities services, custodial contract services, and various maintenance contract services. He has worked in facilities management for 25 years, with time spent in hospitality, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and K-12, with the last 12 years spent at Broward College.