QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Organizational Tools

Q. In my position, I oversee 40 restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic. I have yet to find an organizational tool that helps me keep their gazillion problems in an organized manner yet reminds me to follow up.

I’ve tried Outlook, calendars, and traditional notebooks, but I need advice. We already use a third party call center for the daily issues. I’m concerned about all the other issues that are my responsibility. Does anyone have a recommendation based on personal experience?

Michelle Williams
Regional Facilities Manager
Cosi, Inc.

This question was originally published in the February 2008 issue of Today’s Facility Manager. Read Elledge’s response here. Share your feedback and suggestions in the LEAVE A COMMENT section below.


  1. Michelle- There is a great web based project management system called ‘ManyMoon’. I can hardly believe it’s free. It has a lot of features, very intuitive and great sharing capabilities with co-workers or others you are working with. Good luck- I hope you find something that works.


  2. Michelle – I really share your frustrations. You mentioned “problems” so I assume that the seasonal, preventative and scheduled maintenance requirements are not an issue for you since they can all be scheduled on most calendar software. In regards to work orders or “problems” that arise, I have seen some various tools. We currently obtained a software that was orginally intended for Fleet Maintenance such as school buses of other fleet repairs. This was about the 70% solution. What I have found best is EXCEL. I have created a spreadsheet that will populate the repairs needed, track customer wait times, cost (including cost by location),work load by technician,to include customer satisfaction. All of this data populates a “Dash Board” document that displays a vivid picture of chart and graphs to aid me in tracking the entire process from notification through completion. I have also placed numerous formulas into the spreadsheet that will highlight repairs that exceed 15, 30, 45, and 60 days for me. Although this document is a great tool, it is forever evolving. Utilizing a continuous improvement process, I am constantly adding something new to measure efficiencies. I hope this helps! Best of luck!

  3. Michelle,
    As a property manager at a mixed use development, I feel your pain in keeping a current and encompassing “To Do” list. There are a few products on the market…I am working to get organized using a web based work order system called PropertyTrak. Service/Work requests and reoccurring maintenance tasks can be directed to vendors or staff via email. Adjustable priority levels and status reports by due date can help with deadlines. And there is a feedback mechanism which allows the “requestor” to rate the service response which can help you re-focus your efforts. Good Luck…I hope to read other posts with suggestions!

  4. Yep, the solution is called a “work management system” or a “computerized maintenance management system” (CMMS). There are cheap systems….and very expensive systems and a whole range in between. One system a lot of schools use is called “School Dude”. You pay for the service as a monthly fee…..and they provide a web connection for the various locations to enter their own work orders. Very easy for end users to see what’s going on. My two cents…..

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