Sometimes going off the beaten path to achieve excellence in facility management hinges more on reinventing your process than on pursuing higher performance through systems. Such was the case at the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), which is responsible to the United States Congress for the maintenance, operation, development and preservation of a 17.4 million-square-foot portfolio of facilities. One of their jurisdictions is the Office of Security Programs (OSP), created in 2003, which provides facility maintenance and operations, including managing work orders, for the U. S. Capitol Police, the legislative branch of the U.S. government and the public.
Prior to the existence of OSP, a process had been put in place at the Capitol Police which was creating a bottle neck in how work orders were placed and processed. By the time it came to a head, the backlog on work orders was almost 400, with an average time to complete them of 55 days. Despite such significant figures, a 2009 customer satisfaction survey came back with an 80 percent approval rating. Regardless, Kenneth Eads, director of the Office of Security Programs, knew they had to do better.
Using a Lean Six Sigma process, Eads' team worked with the Capitol Police to map out all of the steps of the work order process and decide where efficiencies could be gained. Under the old process, each agency submitted work orders in independent work order systems. For work orders submitted under the Capitol Police's system to be completed by OSP, they had to be manually approved and entered into the OSP's system. Naming conventions in the two systems were not consistent. It was impossible for customers to track the status of their work orders, and they often had no idea it was a different agency than theirs completing the work.
Now all work orders are submitted by anyone directly into the AOC system. This has allowed customers to track their work orders and provide feedback. With the bottleneck of approval and manual entry removed, the work order backlog has dropped to 17 with an average completion time of four days.
In addition to consolidating the work order systems, the OSP Customer Service Center was created, providing a single point of contact for work orders and following up on all requests to make sure they were completed to satisfaction.
Recognizing this gap in service and being able to see that doing things as they had always been done was not good enough has brought visibility to the OSP as an integral service provider. It has also freed up the Capitol Police to refocus their resources on longer term planning and actual security functions rather than day-to-day facility activities, says Eads.
"This is one of the many tools the AOC has used to serve its mission of 'serve, preserve, inspire,'" says Eads. "It has streamlined this part of the government and made it more efficient and effective."
Striking out off the beaten path is never easy. But as these projects show, doing what is right by a facility pays dividends, from additional recognition for the facility department to marketability gains for the organization — to say nothing of boosting the bottom line. As Tetrault says, "Don't be afraid to ask and lobby for what you know is right for your facilities."