Managing work orders for the district’s seven K-8 schools, pre-K facility, and an administration building called for efficiency improvements. Bringing in a new software platform has lifted productivity for the maintenance staff and its customer service.
Calvin Pulda, special systems coordinator for the district, talks about the implementation of this software tool.
By Facility Executive Staff
From the April 2020 Issue
What was the motivating factor and goals for this project?
I’m part of the Buckeye Elementary School District (BESD) maintenance, transportation and facilities department, and when I joined the district in 2017, the department head had already been looking to add software for work order management. The procedure at that time included a paper-based system to log work, coupled with a spreadsheet system to document building data. But it wasn’t the most efficient in terms of assigning to a specific staff person, or communicating with the person who submitted the request, or in being able to locate assets and equipment throughout the school sites.
With an IT and electronics background, I was hired to oversee maintenance of access control and other life safety equipment. Because of my background, I took on the task to find a work order management solution for our district—one that would be used for maintenance for all systems, not just those under my purview.
How did you research the facility management software options? And, how did you arrive at the final decision?
When I came on board, our department head had been researching AkitaBox [a cloud-based facility management software, a pillar of which is work order management]. I called the company and asked them to show me how their system would benefit our work. We also spoke with another school district in our area about their experience using that system. After learning more about the capabilities for work order management processes and other features, I decided this would be a good tool for us.
Our facilities staff of 25 has varying levels of competency with technology, and we also wanted a tool that would be easily accessible out in the field. As our technicians are at their schools, whether for preventive maintenance or to respond to submitted work orders, their ability to both access and input information is very important. AkitaBox is a mobile platform, and we gave staff iPads to access the system and perform work.
Please describe the implementation process.
Once we made the decision, there was a 90-day plan to collect and integrate the district data into the software. AkitaBox sent a team of four people to go through our buildings to input the facility and equipment information—such as an asset’s make, model, manufacturer, and serial number, or a room’s name, number or floor type. This also included taking pictures of each piece of equipment we had specified.
To date, we’ve collected more than 1,200 assets into the system. And, we continue to add more; we added doors and access control. And we are in the process of adding all of our smoke detectors.
We’ve also customized the software for how we work. For example, I wanted to be able to assign a work order to multiple (2,3,4) people when it comes in. This saves time because when one staff member addresses it, the others see that and the order is removed from their list. That is a feature I requested from AkitaBox after we implemented the system.
What training did staff or occupants receive?
A dedicated Customer Success Manager was then assigned from AkitaBox to set up a custom preventive maintenance program for Buckeye Elementary School District’s buildings, identify a rollout strategy, and train facility staff at each location prior to software deployment.
For our customers/occupants, policies to submit work orders were updated. It was a matter of communicating the new system to each school, and having them understand and begin using the new procedures. Previously, it was email requests, and now each building has its own website through which to request work.
What have the results been for your department and the Buckeye Elementary School District?
It’s streamlined the efficiency of work orders, and that has led to better customer service. It’s also been very beneficial to our ability to keep track of information on work done, equipment conditions, and more. Preventive maintenance and planning equipment purchases are other areas where having the data is very helpful. For example, we can pull up information on an AC unit to see what service has been done on it, or how much time and money has been spent on the unit. We also use the system for events, such as a play or community event. We are able to schedule lighting and HVAC settings for that specific time.
Overall, this has made my job easier and provides our facilities maintenance staff a tool for them to be more productive. I can see the work that’s been done throughout our buildings. And, they don’t have to print out work orders each morning, they don’t have to visit their offices each morning.
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