Improving Efficiency with Web-Native Operations Tools
- By Erin Tucker
- June 1st, 2007
Joe Biluck, director of Operations and Technology at Medford Township Schools, recognizes the respect his district’s Web-native maintenance management and facility scheduling systems have generated. And he’s not about to give them up now.
The white-knuckled grip isn’t due to paranoia, but rather the simple fact that he has experienced the other side of running an operations department without the help of Internet technology — and he doesn’t want to go back.
We never had an audit trail, Biluck said.Every request was submitted to my office, and requesters didn’t know that the job was done until their broken window was repaired.
Biluck knew he needed a system that was less time-consuming, better organized, and more effective. He could also pinpoint what he intended to avoid.
I didn’t want an in-house program that we would need to maintain, he said.
Tools for managing maintenance and facility scheduling, provided by SchoolDude.com, proved to be the right choice for the Biluck and the 3,100-student district.
Immediately, the advantages of using a Web-based program became clear.
I was happy about the fact that the products didn’t require a tremendous amount of setup time, Biluck said.Plus, it’s independent of what we have here. We don’t need a separate server or software that is upgraded on a routine basis.
Efficiency proved to be key in the district’s fight to regain control over the time-consuming paper trail. Both the requesters and the operations staff saw their problems being solved more easily with a Web-based management system.
It’s an easy way for the staff to have their needs recognized and requests properly routed, Biluck said. For routine jobs, my guys get their work requests as soon as they log on in the morning and can tackle them right away. In two minutes, we can have incidents addressed.
For Biluck, it’s obvious that the comfort level is there.
Teachers are computer savvy, and we’re not forcing them to do something they wouldn’t already do on a daily basis, he said.
Empowering everyone with technology that leverages requests online became the link that completed the communication loop between school staff and the maintenance department. That, in turn, provided the high level of customer service that has been vital to the success of the school district’s operations.
An ‘it gets done when we feel like it’ approach was not the type of relationship I wanted teachers to have with the maintenance department, Biluck emphasized. When we have a full circle of communication where requesters can see their requests being routed and the work completed, it gives them peace of mind.
Teachers aren’t the only ones breathing a sigh of relief. Even those at the district level have fewer interruptions.
The superintendent doesn’t have to deal with the distraction of what’s going on with a leaking roof, Biluck explained. If he’s concentrating on that, he’s not focused on the curriculum. And if it gets to that level, I’m not doing something right.
The maintenance management system of choice for Medford Township Schools doesn’t just aid the district’s employees, though; it also helps increase the schools’ value to parents and taxpayers.
It is changing the culture of how people address maintenance issues, Biluck explained. Maintenance is a high priority, and curb appeal is just as important as curriculum. When new folks come in and look at the building, if it’s dirty, they develop a very poor notion on how we maintain facilities. They’ll take that interpretation and associate it with instruction, and that’s not what we want to do.
Elevating the facility department’s accountability — in the minds of teachers, parents and even the operations department itself — is a benefit, according to Biluck.
It’s good PR, he said, because now they see the facility department as being just as important as instruction.
With the addition of web-native operations management systems nearly five years ago, Biluck has witnessed steady improvements across the district from many different aspects.
We have happier teachers and better maintained buildings, he noted, all while saving resources, and improving response time and communication.
With this optimism, Biluck is sure he doesn’t want to take away the tools that helped create such a positive environment.
Maybe there wouldn’t be a riot. But he doesn’t want to take that chance.
Erin Tucker is Marketing Communications Specialist for SchoolDude.com. Reprinted from the April 2007 issue of School Business Affairs, published by the Association of School Business Officials, International.