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Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities
Chapter 1
  Introduction to School Facilities Maintenance Planning
Chapter 2
    Planning for School Facilities Maintenance
Chapter 3
    Facility Audits: Knowing What You Have
Chapter 4
    Providing a Safe Environment for Learning
Chapter 5
    Maintaining School Facilities and Grounds
Chapter 6
    Effectively Managing Staff and Contractors
Chapter 7
    Evaluating Facilities Maintenance Efforts
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Chapter 7
Evaluating Facilities Maintenance Efforts


  Graphic of Checkmark To communicate the importance of regular facilities maintenance program evaluation
  Graphic of Checkmark To recommend best practice strategies for evaluating facilities maintenance efforts

Program evaluation allows planners to see which initiatives are working, which are not working, and which strategies need to be reconsidered. There is simply no substitute for good data when making evaluation and program decisions.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Evaluating

Nick had pretty much staked his reputation, and perhaps his job, on a preventive maintenance program. He'd championed the idea, recommending it in no uncertain terms to the superintendent and school board. So when the money was earmarked for a preventive maintenance program, everyone congratulated him. But Nick knew that getting the money and implementing the initiative was only the start of the job. He had to show that the program was working-or at least find out where it wasn't working and then reassess his strategy as needed.

When the next year's budget cuts came down from the top, the assistant superintendent tried to reassure Nick that the maintenance program would survive the cut. "Look, Nick, you could make up nearly a third of the cut if you just reassign your program evaluation funds back into the maintenance budget." Nick looked at his boss with surprise. "Ted, in ten years of working together, I've never heard such a bad idea come out of your mouth." Ted was taken aback by the Image of Eagle with Hammerreply, "But Nick, I just want to make sure that you're getting the biggest bang for your buck out of the budget." Nick laughed, "So do I, and that's why we've got to evaluate our work. Otherwise, we'll have no way of knowing what the 'buck' is really buying us. We won't know what we're doing right, or doing wrong, or where we needed to improve our performance. I'm telling you, Ted, when the budget gets lean-that's when we really need to stay serious about evaluating our work so that we can determine our priorities and allocate those tight dollars." Ted scratched his head, "I hadn't thought of it that way, Nick. I bet the same is true in the rest of the district as well, huh?" Nick cracked a smile, "I bet it is."

Reasons for evaluating the facilities maintenance program include:

Graphic of Checkmark internal management control

Graphic of Checkmark school board requests

Graphic of Checkmark state reporting mandates

Graphic of Checkmark regulatory inspections (e.g., EPA)

Evaluating Your Maintenance Program

Chart of an Evaluation Program This Planning Guide provides a framework for proactively developing a comprehensive, district-wide facility maintenance plan. The preceding chapters address the primary elements of maintenance planning, including recognizing the need for effective maintenance programs, planning maintenance programs, performing facilities audits (i.e., data collections), ensuring environmental safety, maintaining grounds and facilities, and managing staff and contractors. One other vital component of adequate school facilities maintenance is periodic evaluation to assess the success of these efforts at a program level.

To realize the full potential of a comprehensive preventive maintenance system, school staff, the school board, and town planners must incorporate maintenance priorities into all

modernization goals, objectives, and budgets. However, it is also fair for stakeholders to expect the maintenance program to yield results-namely: clean, orderly, safe, cost-effective, and instructionally supportive school facilities that enhance the educational experience of all students. But stakeholders also need to demonstrate patience because the only thing that takes more time than implementing changes to a maintenance program is waiting to see the improvements bear fruit.

Considerations When Planning Program Evaluations

Evaluation doesn't have to mean more dollars and more surveys. Many of the day-to-day activities or systems used to plan and operate a maintenance program also generate the types of information needed to evaluate the program's effectiveness. These can include:

Program success can only be evaluated relative to program objectives. In other words, measuring "success" means answering the question: Are we reaching our goals and objectives?
  Graphic of Checkmark Physical inspections: Records of physical inspections are good evaluative material. To care for buildings and grounds, staff must observe and assess their condition on a regular basis. Inspections should be both visual (i.e., how things look) and operational (i.e., how things work), and should result in work orders for items requiring service or repair.
  Graphic of Checkmark Work order systems: An effective work order system, as explained in Chapter 5, is a good tool for identifying, monitoring, and projecting future maintenance needs. All maintenance work should be recorded on work orders, which then provide valuable quantitative information for evaluations.
  Graphic of Checkmark User feedback/customer satisfaction surveys: There are many ways to gather information from users/customers (i.e., the people who benefit from the maintenance activities), including collecting satisfaction surveys and convening advisory committees of stakeholders. The value of user perception should not be overlooked as an evaluation tool. Appendix I provides a sample customer survey form used to request feedback relating to custodial and maintenance work.
  Graphic of Checkmark Audits: Performance audits, commissioning, retro-commissioning, comparisons with peer organizations, benchmarking, and annual reviews of accomplishments provide important data for the facility plan and ensuing evaluation.
  Graphic of Checkmark Alternative resources: Maintenance staff need not reinvent the wheel when it comes to evaluations. Maintenance and operations manuals, vendor expertise, warranties, and other resources (e.g., Web sites) can be sources of benchmarking data or evaluation standards.
  Graphic of Checkmark Regulatory activities: Appropriately trained staff or contractors must be assigned to determine whether applicable public safety and environmental regulations are followed. These staff must be responsible for documenting inspection activities and reports, notifying appropriate oversight organizations of deficiencies, developing strategies for remedying deficiencies, and verifying compliance to applicable laws and regulations. Documentation of these activities can be used in program evaluation.

A Note about Budgets

Even with the best planning, budget cutbacks are sometimes unavoidable. This may force planners to reprioritize their operational objectives-which can affect the goals of an evaluation effort as well. For example, under shortfall conditions, evaluators might be asked to assess whether budget cutbacks have prevented the department from reaching one or more of its goals. Or the evaluation effort might be used to identify mission-critical components of the maintenance plan in the event of ongoing program cuts.

Questions to Drive Evaluation Efforts

A simple evaluation program can be implemented by answering these four questions:

Step 1:
What is the purpose of the evaluation? That is, what decisions need to be made and by whom?

Example: The facilities maintenance director and the school business official want to know whether the new work order system is worth the money that was invested in its purchase, installation, and staff training.

Step 2:
What questions need to be answered to make an informed decision, as identified in Step 1?

Example: Is the new work order system accomplishing all that we had hoped it would? Is the new work order system running more efficiently than the old system?

Step 3:
What information needs to be available to answer the questions identified in Step 2?

Example: What was the total cost for purchasing and installing the work order system? What was the total cost to train staff to use the work order system? Are staff time and materials accounted for in the work order system? Does the system maintain historical data about maintenance at each site? Does the system track all purchases, from ordering through delivery, installation, and storage? Does the system document all preventive maintenance activities? Has the response time for work order requests decreased? If so, by how much? Has the number of work orders accomplished increased? If so, by how much?

Step 4:
What is the best way to capture the information needs identified in Step 3?

Example: Accounting and management audits, work order system user surveys, current work order system reports, and data from previous work order requests.

The only thing worse than no data is misplaced confidence in bad data. Decisions are bound to be bad if the data used to inform them are of poor quality.

Collecting Data to Inform a Comprehensive Evaluation

Image of KeysTo evaluate a facilities management program, the district must collect and maintain accurate, timely, and comprehensive data about its facilities. After all, responsible decision-making requires good data and documentation. Before assessing maintenance improvements, it is necessary to identify the baseline against which progress will be measured (see Chapter 3). In other words, will the organization compare its current status against its previous status, against peer organizations, or relative to commonly accepted norms and best-practice standards?

The graph shows the number of days it took for a work order to get completed in a school district before and after the process was streamlined. Although the amount of time it takes for the actual work to be accomplished has not changed, two significant time-saving approaches have been adopted: 1) the number of people handling the work order has been cut, and 2) the parts and materials procurement system has been linked to the work order system. This type of streamlining not only increases efficiency with respect to getting work accomplished, but also decreases unnecessary administrative costs.

Chart of Work Order System

Document all "lessons learned" to keep a record of things that didn't work as planned so that mistakes can be avoided the next time around.

Collecting data may require substantial effort, but it is a necessary task all the same. Proven sources of information about the condition of school facilities and the impact of a facility maintenance program include:

  Graphic of Checkmark number of work orders completed
  Graphic of Checkmark changes in maintenance costs
  Graphic of Checkmark major incident reviews (e.g., number of school shutdowns, safety events, etc.)
  Graphic of Checkmark "customer" feedback (e.g., the opinions of principals and other occupants)
  Graphic of Checkmark visual inspections by supervisors and managers
  Graphic of Checkmark comprehensive management audits
  Graphic of Checkmark performance audits
  Graphic of Checkmark organizational studies
  Graphic of Checkmark annual snapshots (e.g., maintenance/operations cost per square foot or per student)
  Graphic of Checkmark facility report cards or other summaries
  Graphic of Checkmark comparisons with "peer" organizations
  Graphic of Checkmark benchmark performance
  Graphic of Checkmark trend analysis (e.g., progress toward the organization's long-range plans)
  Graphic of Checkmark external audits/peer reviews
  Graphic of Checkmark weekly foreman's meetings
  Graphic of Checkmark staff turnover rates
  Graphic of Checkmark public opinion (e.g., newspaper articles, etc.)

Pitfalls to Avoid When Interpreting Maintenance Evaluations

Stakeholders should not assume that improvements to a maintenance program will always yield cost savings in real dollars. To obtain an accurate assessment of maintenance initiatives, evaluators must also look for:

  Graphic of Checkmark Cost avoidance rather than direct savings (e.g., well-maintained equipment tends not to wear out or need to be replaced as quickly as poorly maintained equipment)
  Graphic of Checkmark Fewer service interruptions resulting from better maintained, and better performing, equipment.

Moreover, improving facilities maintenance requires patience. A comprehensive, proactive program takes resources, energy, and time to initiate-and even more time before results are realized.