Dealing with work orders and repairs every day can feel like you’re trapped in one big hamster wheel—as soon as one job gets completed, another pops up. It’s an endless cycle that many K-12 facility managers and their teams can’t seem to get out of.
So what’s the fix?
Technically, there is no “magic bullet” to make managing school facilities easier. However, with proper goal-setting (and the right set of tools), K-12 facility managers can increase the effectiveness of their facility management operations significantly.
It all starts with long-term and short-term goal setting that will align your maintenance teams on high-priority tasks and get them “unstuck” from the maintenance hamster wheel. Need some inspiration to get started? Here are the five key goals of school facility management leaders and some actionable steps you can take to start executing them immediately.
Facilities Management Tasks & Responsibilities
Before we jump into listing the various school facility management goals, it’s important to outline the tasks and responsibilities they’re connected to.
Maintaining and optimizing school facilities. This is the north star goal of all school facility managers. K-12 maintenance teams will be assessed by their ability to keep school infrastructure well-maintained and safe for teachers, students, and staff.
Streamlining maintenance operations and workflows. This is one of the biggest hurdles facility teams face in their day-to-day—especially if they have a small team or belong to a large school district. Streamlining maintenance operations begins with adopting an effective work order management system. If you’re still fielding work order requests via email, you might relate to these pains.
Supporting K-12 students, faculty, and staff. You won’t technically find this in the job description of a school facility manager, but it’s still an integral part of the job. You can ease the friction between your busy maintenance staff and concerned K-12 parents by establishing clear lines of communication. Keeping parents informed about upcoming repairs or maintenance activities can reassure them that their children are safe on school grounds.
Project management. School facility managers are tasked with identifying and outlining maintenance projects throughout the school year. These could range from replacing an old HVAC system, making renovations, or allocating space for an upcoming maintenance project.
Keeping maintenance equipment and spare parts inventories up-to-date. Even if your maintenance teams have the skill-set to handle incoming work orders, your operations will come to a standstill without the right equipment or parts. Facility managers are responsible for keeping track of maintenance assets to ensure their teams are always equipped for the job.
Typical Challenges for Facilities Management
A job wouldn’t really be a job if it were easy, right? In order to achieve the goals listed below, here are a few challenges that K-12 facility management leaders need to overcome.
Controlling costs on labor and equipment. Just like other K-12 leaders, school facility managers are responsible for their district’s bottom line. Maintenance costs can be kept low by monitoring both labor and equipment costs.
Extending asset lifespans. School districts spend serious money keeping their campuses well-equipped and up-to-date for both teaching and learning. Facility managers need to conduct regular maintenance on valuable school assets and infrastructure to avoid sunk costs and wasted school budgets.
Organizing/streamlining workflows. An optimized workflow will keep your labor costs low by reducing the time spent on maintenance. School facility managers must create a seamless order-to-completion work order process to keep up with school repairs.
Optimizing work order submission and completion process. Creating open and effective channels of communication between maintenance teams and requestors is both challenging and necessary. K-12 facility managers need to build or adopt a system that makes the work order submission process easy for everyone involved.
5 Goals for K-12 Facility Management Leaders
Now that we’ve outlined the responsibilities and challenges of K-12 facility management, it’s time to break down the strategic goals that will help your maintenance teams succeed.
1. Improve the Performance and Efficiency of School Facilities
Maintaining school facilities is part of the job, but an effective maintenance team understands that the work doesn’t stop there. Facility managers should be thinking of new ways to improve the performance and efficiency of school buildings and infrastructure.
For starters, automating functions like climate control and lighting helps decrease energy consumption and cut costs. These automations play a huge role in energy sustainability and allow maintenance teams to extend the lifespan of their HVAC systems and lighting fixtures.
Effective space usage and management is another effective way to get the most out of your school facilities. It is often overlooked as a low-priority task, but plays a huge role in the daily operations of a K-12 school.
When reviewing the ground plans for school buildings, it’s important to keep your peers in mind. Open walkways, stairwells, emergency exit doors, and common areas make it possible for students, teachers, and staff to travel safely on school campuses. Facility managers should consistently monitor the use of space in their schools to avoid unnecessary foot traffic.
2. Improve Internal Facilities Management Processes
Improving your internal facility management processes will reduce outstanding work orders for your maintenance teams. To improve internal processes, facility managers should:
- Keep accurate service and maintenance records of district assets
- Filter work order requests by location, type, equipment needed, priority, etc.
- Schedule preventive maintenance of school assets in advance
- Give K-12 teachers and staff a dedicated portal to submit work orders
- Communicate with maintenance technicians via mobile app or chat threads
- Maintain an updated school facility safety checklist
By streamlining and optimizing your workflow processes, technicians are able to use their time wisely, complete work orders on time, and conduct regular maintenance of district assets and infrastructure.
3. Focus on Preventive Maintenance
Creating a preventive maintenance schedule is one of the most effective ways to extend the lifespan of your district assets. Preventive maintenance gives busy K-12 facility management teams the ability to avoid equipment breakdowns due to negligence or irregular maintenance. In a preventive maintenance model, school technicians are required to keep district assets and infrastructure well-maintained and safe for students.
Making the shift to a preventive model also helps facility management leaders achieve goals, such as:
- Effective scheduling and reduced downtime for technicians
- Increased asset and equipment lifespans via regular maintenance
- Updated equipment and spare parts inventory by scheduling work orders ahead of time
One of the biggest benefits to adopting a preventive maintenance model is that it requires little to no investment upfront. School facility managers can improve their project management skills and the effectiveness of their teams without having to make huge operational changes overnight.
4. Lower Maintenance Costs
School facility managers would have a much easier job if they had an unlimited budget to work with. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Keeping costs low and staying above the bottom line is another key goal K-12 facility leaders should try to achieve. Here are a few strategies to help with that.
Invest in upgrading older equipment. Preventive maintenance is a great way to expand the lifespan of assets that are early in their asset lifespan. Still, it’s usually too late for older equipment to see any real benefit.
With school facility management software, maintenance teams can review detailed service histories of school assets and determine when assets need to be replaced. Investing in new assets and equipment reduces future maintenance costs when an old piece of equipment finally breaks down and needs to be replaced immediately.
Schedule technician shifts to reduce labor costs. Whether you have maintenance workers on-site or contract them externally, setting up detailed maintenance schedules allows facility managers to save time and reduce labor costs.
Review vendor relationships for parts, equipment, and CMMS software. Take the time to review your vendor relationships every school year. Then, cut costs on expensive parts manufacturers or additional software that isn’t adding value to your facility operations.
5. Analyze Metrics & Optimize Processes
Using facility management software allows you to get actionable feedback through analytics and metrics. Generate reports that allow you to track work order completion times, SLA times, how long work orders took, etc. see how long certain work orders take and optimize your processes.
Goal-Setting for Your K-12 Facilities Management Team
In facility management, a little thought goes a long way, and goals can only be achieved when you have a strategic plan in place. Here are a few tactics you can use to transform your facility operations.
- Review service histories on assets that are reaching the end of their device lifespans. Using that data, communicate with the technician that has spent the most time maintaining that particular asset. Speaking with your maintenance teams allows you to gain qualitative feedback and assess the true condition of your school’s assets and equipment.
- Maintain relationships with parts vendors in case of an emergency. If there is an emergency repair needed in your district, vendors can make it a priority that you have the parts you need to get it fixed.
- Communicate with K-12 students, parents, faculty, and staff to alert them of maintenance and repairs. A school campus can quickly turn into a construction site when/if something breaks down. Maintaining regular communications with your K-12 community will keep them informed of upcoming maintenance that could affect their daily schedules.
- Leverage the metrics/analytics within your school facility management software. Facility managers can reference performance metrics when conducting their annual budget planning. These facility metrics/analytics can be used to justify additional resources to district leadership—whether that be the addition of a key new hire to the team, or access to new tools and equipment.
- Network with other facility management leaders in neighboring districts. If all else fails, turn to your neighbor. Maintaining strong relationships with facility leaders in other school districts is a great way to troubleshoot problems, gain quick insights, and share best practices.
The Right Tools for The Job
At Incident IQ, we’ve developed a service platform that connects facilities leaders with other K-12 departments that are crucial to carrying out school operations. Using our school facility management software, facility leaders can plan, organize, and achieve their goals with tools built specifically for K-12.
Ready to streamline your facility management operations? Speak with one of our K-12 workflow management experts to learn more.