Anatomy of a Help Desk Call: A Parable of Maintenance Management

by David Scott on February 29, 2012

I recently overheard a conversation at a higher education institution that went something like this:

Facilities Mgr.: Good morning, how can I help you?
Caller: I need a new bulb for this projector.
FM: Sir, what projector?
Caller: The projector in my classroom.
FM: Okay, where is your classroom?
Caller: I’m in the Johnson Building.  Johnson 218.
FM: (fumbles with the computer)  Sir, I apologize, but there is no record of a projector in that room.
Caller: Well, it’s here and the bulb is burned out.  We bought it about a year ago.
FM: Okay, what kind of projector is it?
Caller: You know, it’s a Smith XLJ-2000.
FM: Is there a tag on the back with an Asset ID number?
Caller: No, I don’t see one.
FM: And you bought this about a year ago?
Caller: Yes, Dr. Washington approved the purchase.
FM: Did either of you fill out the ARSF?  The Asset Requisition and Service Form?
Caller: No, I don’t think we did…I just use it for this class that I teach.

 

Now, you can ask yourself why this happens, and there are hundreds of reasons from not following policy, to not filling out forms, to rogue purchasing, to simply bending the rules to get things done.  The caller needed a projector and they had budget so they bought it.  It likely never dawned on them that Facilities needed to know about the asset so they could stock replacement parts (or more important, that Faciliities is already stocking parts for a different ‘pre- approved’ projector). If this sounds anything like your institution, you have just encountered the demon of silo-ed systems.  You have to feel sorry for the poor Facilities Manager because the caller clearly believes that he should be stocking projector bulbs (along with every other perishable part) for non-standard assets, and yet you know for a fact that the Facilities Manager has no idea this asset ever existed.

This is an all-too-common situation when you have systems that do not talk to each other.  If the process of purchasing an asset does not notify Facilities that they have a new asset to maintain, then the chain of communication is bound to disintegrate.  Yes, you can create policies and forms, but they are only as good as the user’s compunction to adhere to and use them.

On the other hand, if Facilities was notified anytime an asset was acquired, they could then take proactive steps to acquire a user manual, track warranties, identify potential replacement parts (and the preferred vendor for ordering those parts), and establish a preventive maintenance schedule.  When the processes are tied together in an integrated solution, the software drives the communication instead of asking the user to remember who needs what and when.  It’s not foolproof, but it is light years better than the silos we deal with today.

If you are interested in what an integrated facilities management solution can do for you, download our whitepaper about PeopleSoft Maintenance Management.  The paper walks you through the benefits of integration and ways that you can optimize your business processes to capture data at its source.

If you have questions about the whitepaper, or even questions about facilities management as it relates to your organization, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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