FSP0017 – Work Reception and Coordination – Facility Science Podcast #17

By | August 20, 2019

Notes for FSP0017 – Work Reception and Coordination
My thoughts on this topic were sort of catalyzed by a book called “The Facility Management Handbook” and specifically chapter 24 of that book titled “Work Coordination.” And since that was sort of the beginning of my thinking on this topic, I decided to dig out the book and I’ll be referencing that chapter going forward. (Right now I’m looking at the 3rd edition of this book).
Link to the book on Amazon.com: (If you make a qualifying purchase from Amazon.com after following one of my links, Amazon will give me a small referral fee (at no additional cost to you) for sending you over.
The newest edition of the book (not the one I have):
The third edition of the book (the one I have)
The ideas in the chapter center around what they call the work reception and coordination center (WRC)
  • Purpose is to receive, prioritize, task, coordinate, and evaluate all work flowing through the facilities department (or at least as much as possible).
  • WRC is a conceptual function inside the organization. The physical and practical manifestation of the WRC depends on the size and complexity of the facilities being managed.
    • In a smaller, simpler organization, the WRC could be a single person with a phone and a laptop.
    • In a very large, complex organization, the WRC might be its own whole department inside the FM function with its own staff and offices.
  • With properly-trained employees and the right procedures, the WRC should be able to handle some large percentage (perhaps >90%) of the facilities workflow without managerial input.
  • As a centralized hub for handling work, the WRC will have information necessary to provide reports on the volume, cost, and completion status of the work being done by the department.
  • The book also points out that the WRC, with appropriate preparation, is a natural place to integrate your emergency management function.
Now let’s go through the 5 WRC functions (receive, prioritize, task, coordinate, and evaluate)
  • Single point of contact for all work requests.
  • Sources of work (all sources should go through the work reception function)
    • Building occupants/facility users.
      • What are acceptable work request channels
        • Phone call
        • email
          • What is the email address
          • Should the email go to a person’s email address or to a separate work request email address.
        • CMMS maintenance request page
        • Telling the maintenance technician while they are working in a maintenance job in the area.
          • In my opinion it’s generally not a good idea to allow this as a work request channel. The maintenance people are going to be busy and distracted. This kind of request tends to get lost or forgotten.
          • Recommend giving field service personnel a script to follow when they are approached with work requests, including a business card (or similar) with the information about the preferred work request channels. Script should allow the field person to quickly explain the reason why they are not able to take work requests and how the customer will be better served by making their request through the proper channel.
          • If you do allow work request to be made in this way, make sure the field people have a procedure they need to follow to assure that the request gets properly pushed to the WRC.
        • No right answer but the channels should be finite, well-defined, and easy for building users to locate and use.
      • Request needs to be received including enough information to properly plan and schedule the work.
        • Who is requesting the work?What work are they requesting?
        • Why are they requesting the work?
        • What department or business unit are they associated with?
        • Who should be contacted about doing the work and how can they be contacted?
      • Who is authorized to request work?
        • Everyone, only department managers or supervisors, other authorized people?
        • The benefit of having a layer in between the building occupants and the WRC is that the contact person can weed out frivolous requests and make sure request are properly submitted.
        • The downside of have layers in between the facility users and the WRC is that some requests might be missed and the WRC doesn’t necessarily have oversight of the contact person’s observance of the policy.
      • Receiving work requests from a facility user is a customer service function. Ultimately the facilities exist to serve the business and the business function is carried out by the people working in the business.
    • Maintenance schedules.
    • Building monitoring systems, sensors, automated alerts, etc.
    • Observations by facility management staff.
  • For every work item received, the WRC will create a work order, then prioritize, task, coordinate, and evaluate the work.
  • Why is it important for all work to come through the WRC?
    • All work can be handled according to the established procedures.
    • Work requests don’t get lost or forgotten.
    • Work can be properly accounted for, logged,
    • benchmarked, charged to the right business unit, etc
    • Work can be given to the right service provider (see tasking section)
    • Work can be coordinated across the organization. Reduces duplicate or unnecessary effort.
    • Frees the facility manager and other leadership from dealing with routine tasks.
  • Who will monitor the work input sources?
    • Need someone (or multiple people) to answer the phone, check the email, process the CMMS tickets, react to the BMS alerts, and act on all of those inputs (generate work orders and push them into the workflow, contact the appropriate people, etc).
    • Might be the same person doing all of those things.
    • Dedicated work receptionist, rotate the technical staff through. Whoever it is, you want to make sure it is someone who is authorized to give as much attention as necessary to receiving work and pushing into the workflow and not be distracted by doing other work.
    • How do you handle after hours request?
      • Call answering service, voice mail, On-call technicians?
      • Email or we portal.
      • Any mechanism used should direct the user to the most appropriate method to report after-hours emergencies at the facility.
Prioritize (I spoke a little about work prioritization in #10 Maintenance Planning and Scheduling)
  • Some work needs to be done right now. This is to solve high priority problems that pose a risk to life safety or property. The WRC should have the authority to quickly dispatch the appropriate person or team by phone or other fast communication method.
  • Some work can be done today or tomorrow. This is work to solve problems that affect the operation of the business. Again, the WRC should be able to identify this type of problem, generate a work order and schedule the work accordingly.
  • Some work can be done in the next week or so
  • Some work doesn’t need to be done at all.
Categories of work (Name this better) (maybe categories of work by approval requirements?)
  • Maintenance/repair vs modification
    • Maintenance/repair is aimed and keeping (or returning) things to their “status quo” functionality. Generally automatable. Example: lights out, AC not working, broken door handle, etc.
    • Modification work is work that makes some change to operations, workflow, aesthetics or whatever. Generally not automatable, needs approval from someone depending on what will be affected by the changes. Examples, moving large furniture, adding or removing electrical receptacles,
  • Work by cost
    • Low cost work can be approved by work receptionist/coordinator without management approval.
    • Higher cost work needs approval by person with appropriate authority.
    • “Low cost” and “high cost” depend on the organization.
  • Give the job to the right person
  • In house or outside contractor
  • Is the work covered under some type of warranty or service contract?
  • The knowledge required to decide who should be tasked with certain work should be contained within the WRC workflow.
  • I’ll read this section directly from the book: “The WRC must coordinate all work: preventive maintenance, cyclical maintenance, maintenance and repair projects, service orders, alteration projects, and capital projects. It is a facility manager’s nightmare, for example, for a wall to be painted under cyclic maintenance two days before it is demolished as part of an alteration project. Not only is it wasteful, but it destroys the department’s credibility. Work should be coordinated with other service organizations. The WRC should be aware of all conferences, parties, facility projects, and after-hours activities so that proper support and no conflicting activities will be scheduled. In a large organization, one person should coordinate work, control the flow of paperwork through the facilities department, and task all non routine work. In a medium-size organization, the amount of work can be small enough so that the facility manager or work receptionist can also function as a work coordinator.” (End of quote)
  • I have a few thoughts on this:
    • First, I have seen the case where a wall was painted days before it was scheduled to be torn down, so that’s a real thing.
    • Also with respect to coordinating after-hours activities and parties and etc with the WRC even if they don’t directly require facilities work: Many of these activities are affected by HVAC system setting (think after hours temperature setbacks) or might have higher-than normal power requirements or power requirements in places where there isn’t normally power. These are things that might be difficult for the facility users to overcome but are generally trivial for the WRC to deal with if they are informed of the event.
    • Then there’s also the issue of duplicated effort … and this is one of the reasons I think your maintenance or service technicians should pass all verbal maintenance requests and even things they might observe themselves through the WRC for tasking. It’s easy to imagine multiple technicians being informed of or observing the same issue and working toward completing it without knowledge that someone else is doing the same work. This is obviously a waste of effort.
Evaluate – Two things to evaluate…Is the work getting done to the appropriate standard and are the building occupants satisfied?
  • Is the work getting done to the appropriate standard? WRC has the information to evaluate this.
    • Is work being completed on time and within budget.
    • Is the technical staffing adequate for the amount of work that needs to be completed?
    • Do the number of work orders in a particular area or piece of equipment indicate some problem that needs to be looked into?
  • Are the building occupants satisfied with the work being done. This can be determined by survey (online, written, phone)
So the basic idea here is:
  • You have a functional unit inside your FM organization called the Work Reception and Coordination Center (WRC)…
  • combined with a policy about how work will be received, prioritized, tasked, coordinated, and evaluated.
  • The WRC uses the policy to handle all routine work using the appropriate workflow.
  • The WRC forwards work requiring approval or planning to the appropriate parties.
  • Anything not covered by the policy is forwarded to the facility manager for approval. Things that end up in this category may prompt revision of the WRC policy to cover a broader range of work, thereby freeing the FMs attention from more items that can be handled routinely.
  • This kind of policy and workflow can be built directly into many CMMS systems, so you may be able to improve your operation just by taking full advantage of the software packages you already use.