While virtually every organization in every industry that owns and operates facilities has the common need for their facilities management software solutions to provide a work request capability, institutions of higher education have numerous unique challenges compared to the needs of commercial/private sector entities for their facilities maintenance software. Below are 4 key challenges a college or university faces that require their facilities software solution to consider and address when allowing the campus to request facilities services.
Challenge 1: Diverse Population
A college or university has a diverse population occupying their buildings, not just staff or employees. The largest population is the body of students, and it is the university's mission to train and educate in an environment that facilitates learning. The impact on the facilities maintenance software is that it needs to provide the ability to allow for intake and collaboration on work requests with both the staff/employee population and the students that occupy classrooms and potential residents on campus.
Challenge 2: Generational
At a typical university, the campus student population is typically composed of 18 to 23-year-old undergraduates, in addition to many staff and educators who are recent graduates just a few years older. The challenge is that this group is a heavy user of technology, particularly mobile technology. They grew up with ads from Apple that said, "There's An App for That". The result is that the best facilities maintenance software will have to provide an app for the students and staff to make a request for their classroom or dorm room easily.
Challenge 3: Scope
Let's also remember that the population of many colleges and universities are in the tens of thousands daily and occupies millions of square footage of the area, eclipsing many of the world's largest corporations. This means that the facilities management software will need to be intuitive, as it will be impossible and impractical to do one-on-one training with each individual requestor. The best facilities maintenance software solutions allow the user to self-guide themselves through the process of making a request, much like the expectation that no one taught them how to use Amazon to purchase something online - yet they instinctively know how to use the platform.
Challenge 4: Your Workforce
Most colleges and universities in North America utilize a sizeable in-house workforce of skilled trades employees to fix and maintain the owned buildings, equipment and furnishings, all of which use a facilities maintenance software solution to receive and process work. In addition, this workforce has to deal with the intake of campus requests, which means getting the request assigned to the correct team and team member and done in a timely fashion. All of this is exacerbated by challenge 3 (scope); this isn't just one building. It's tens to hundreds of buildings that are being managed.
Solution: Campus Facing Facilities Portal
The best facilities maintenance software will offer a customer-facing portal that will allow the student to make a request from their Apple or Android mobile device just as easily as a staff member or professor can from the laptop/desktop computer, essentially a website that utilizes "responsive design". This portal will also allow for communication and status updates and the user's requested jobs to keep them up to date and informed. This customer portal will also allow for the workflow of request approvals and automate the assignment of tasks to the facility's organization.
To meet these challenges and provide the best-in-class solution for meeting the needs of the campus community, AssetWorks offers ReADY Request. With ReADY Request, you can connect the entire campus community to your operation within a single unified platform that reduces manual data entry, transfer errors, and technology issues associated with custom and third-party applications.
ReADY Request connects the requester, the facilities and services departments, and the technicians in the field for each service request. The solution creates clarity and enables near real-time communication so everyone remains in the loop as work is planned, scheduled, and executed.
Still unsure if you are "ReADY" to make the move? Read "A New Age for Facilities Customer Service - Making the Case for ReADY Request"
About the Author
Randy Walsh is the CEO of AssetWorks Facilities and has been in the facilities industry for 25+ years, focusing on the management of the physical operations of large public institutions with both software companies and major educational institutions. It is this experience with 100’s of public and private sector organizations, as well as a focus on technology, that provides Randy with a unique perspective on facilities management.
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