Facilities Investment Needs: Starting with the customer

In the May/June 2017 issue of Facilities Manager, Steve Glazner compiled examples demonstrating how facilities organizations have improved customer service and built relationships at their institution in “Case Studies of Customer Service.” The following case study was submitted by Jodi Soboll, Director of Infrastructure and Utilities Services at UCSF, and Meredith Hargreaves, Senior Lean Practitioner at Haley & Aldrich, Inc.

In June 2016, UCSF’s Facilities Services department faced a vexing problem. It identified annual Facilities Investment Needs (FIN), but the data had historically been inconsistent and unpredictable, leading to last-minute changes, incompleteness in the list, and occasionally, costly “active failure.” This was frustrating to Facilities and its customers. The Infrastructure, Utilities and Energy Management Group within Facilities attempted to change this. 

Key customers and stakeholders participated in a workshop using Lean to develop a shared understanding of whom the list was serving, what the process (and its problems) were, and how to improve things. Together, they created a well-defined process for developing a complete and reliable FIN list with the right amount of detail from customers. Since then, the team has implemented the process, and it’s proving to be effective. 

Patti Mitchell, associated director of capital programs, says, “The new process has delivered a much more complete FIN list with additional information not previously provided. The new information allows for a thorough review, [done] quickly and completely.” By having a stable process that proactively engages customers, the university will avoid liabilities, decrease unscheduled maintenance, and shorten the list, thereby increasing customer satisfaction. Thus far, it has been a successful customer-driven experiment. 

See more examples of improved customer service at facilities organizations in the May/June 2017 issue of Facilities Manager