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University of Arkansas - Ground keeping program Review

Fayetteville, Arkansas

  INDUSTRY: Higher Education
  SERVICE AREA(S): Performance Analysis

The Challenge

In the Spring of 2001, the University of Arkansas (UARK) undertook a comprehensive review and subsequent reorganization of its Physical Plant Department.  Emerging from this review was the recommendation to reorganize the maintenance program.  

In 2003, Draper & Associates and the Adams Consulting Group were engaged to conducted review and analysis of the Grounds Keeping Program.  Draper established a project to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Establish the University desired or targeted level of service with respect to Grounds Keeping
  • Determine the degree to which current appearance/performance varies from that targeted by the University
  • Determine the organizational/operating modification, mix of resources and cost required to meet targeted service levels
  • Document revised service delivery structure and develop associated transition plans    

The assessment was conducted in order to develop recommendations that, when implemented, should improve the quality of grounds keeping services delivered to E&G and Student Housing facilities, increase the accountability of the Grounds staff, improve individual worker productivity, and enhance grounds keeping effectiveness and efficiency without major cost increases.

The Draper Approach

The methodology used to conduct this assessment included a review and analysis of the initial Draper/Adams findings, various Physical Plant documents, reports, procedures, and data pertaining to the organization, management, funding, and operations of the Grounds Shop.  Interviews were conducted with key members of the Grounds Shop.   Additionally, direct observations of grounds keeping operations and inspections of the campus were conducted to determine grounds maintenance requirements and to evaluate current overall conditions.

Results Realized

As a result of the analysis, Draper & Associates made ten specific, actionable recommendations ranging from some structural changes and staffing additions to some minor equipment needs.  In the instance where a key staff addition was recommended, a proposed position description was also provided.  Key among the recommendations were the following:

  • Retain a landscape architect to develop a Campus Landscape Plan to guilde all planting of lawns, trees, and shrubbery for the UARK campus landscape development
  • Develop a comprehensive Grounds Maintenance Plan to establish maintenance standards for specific areas of the campus, guide day-to-day grounds keeping activities and ensure they are focused toward achieving the goals expressed in the Campus Master Plan. 
  • Reorganize the Grounds Shop into zones applying estimated grounds measurements and labor requirements into specific sized crews to complete routine tasks during slow growth season and larger sized crews, assigned to miscellaneous tasks as required, to complete routine tasks during the rapid growth season. 
  • Identification of specific training to upgrade the management skills of supervisory personnel to ensure that advancement is skilled-based and not seniority-based
  • Upgrade tools and equipment to achieve greater productivity – the analysis provided specific lists of equipment and recommended densities and distribution
  • Institute a Management Control System to provide feedback and analysis of the effectiveness of the Grounds Maintenance Program
  • Hire additional staff and transfer responsibility for pest control to Custodial Services
  • Hire Contractors to provide some specialized, periodic services requiring unique skills

Draper also provided a matrix outlining the tasks necessary to implement the proposed changes to the Grounds Keeping Program, to include indicating the individual responsible and a milestone date for completion of each task.


" Draper & Associates has been of great assistance in helping us to determine the level of service and the corresponding mix of resources and level of expenditure that is appropriate in managing and maintaining the University's facilities. Their analytical work is allowing us to more clearly define and quantify our facility requirements as we pursue an accelerated growth strategy for the campus. Their integrated approach to organizational and program planning is positioning us to gain synergies across projects ranging from routine maintenance to renovation and new construction. As a result, we have a clearer indication of what we are getting when we make capital expenditure decisions and a higher confidence in our ability to generate a bigger bang for the buck."

Dr. Donald O. Pederson
Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
The University of Arkansas




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