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University of Arkansas - Physical Plant Operations Review

Fayetteville, Arkansas

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

The Challenge

As part of a campus-wide series of program assessments, the University of Arkansas engaged Draper & Associates, to conduct a comprehensive Review of Physical Plant Operations. The objectives of this Review were to:

  • Determine the level of service and the corresponding level of expenditure that is appropriate in managing and maintaining the University's Education and General (E&G) facilities.
  • Identify and define opportunities to improve cost-effectiveness within the Physical Plant Department.
  • Determine the Business Structure (i.e., mix of resources, organizational structure and operating practices) that is most compatible with targeted service and expenditure levels.
  • Develop specific plans for implementing targeted improvement initiatives and for transitioning to the selected Business Structure.

The work performed during this Review covered all areas of General Fund facilities management encompassed within the Physical Plant Department, including:

  • Building Operations and Maintenance Services
  • Business and Administrative Services
  • Facility Planning and Design Services
  • Contracted Services
  • Utilities Services

Also examined were the interfaces between the activities of these units and other related functions performed in other areas of the University, such as:

  • Academic planning
  • Financial planning and management
  • Human resource management
  • Auxiliary services management
  • Risk management
  • Budget Planning and management
  • Annual calendar and special events
  • Grants and contract management
  • Purchasing and materials management


The Draper Approach

The approach for this Review involved a thorough combination of fact-finding and analysis. The fact-finding activities performed included interviews at all levels throughout the Physical Plant Department, as well as with customer/constituent and staff from other areas of the University. An extensive set of documents was also collected and reviewed. These activities covered a general set of facilities management considerations, including:

  • Mission
  • Scope of Responsibility
  • Organizational Structure
  • Staffing and Other Resources
  • Business Processes
  • Operating Practices
  • Service Levels

In addition, several years of detailed financial data and operating/staffing statistics were gathered and analyzed in order to determine and evaluate the true cost of delivering maintenance, renovation and construction services. The results of this analysis were then used to compare and contrast the University's facility management operations with that of a selected group of Peer Institutions. This Benchmark Analysis involved quantitative and qualitative indicators of performance, such as workload measures, service levels ratios, and personnel deployment statistics, as well as financial ratios/indicators.

This combination of fact-finding and analytical activities, along with the engagement team's prior experience in conducting similar evaluations of facility management and other programmatic areas within the higher education environment, was used to:

  • Perform a comprehensive and integrated diagnostic assessment of the current organization.
  • Analyze staffing, resources, policies, and practices in all identified areas of facilities management.
  • Analyze the appropriateness of activities performed by the Physical Plant Department, as well as their centrality to the mission of the University.
  • Assess the units and functions of the Department as related to institutional objectives, benchmarks from peer institutions and commonly accepted professional practices of facilities management in higher education.
  • Measure the University's facilities management objectives against actual results and achievements.


Results Realized

The Review concluded with the development of an attainable and measurable set of specific goals for organizational performance and financial effectiveness within the Department based on the analysis and benchmarking performed. In addition, 43 specific recommendations were formulated for modifying the organizational structure, improving the mix and use of staff and other resources, and implementing alternative methods of service delivery within the Department over time.

As a follow-on, Draper & Associates was engaged to provide the implementation planning documents for Phase II of the Review. The planning documents include descriptions, task plans and schedules for a series of 13 interrelated projects designed to perform the fact-finding, analysis, design and development activities underlying the programmatic enhancements, organizational transition, process improvements and financial management modifications recommended in the Comprehensive Review of Physical Plant Operations. These projects included:

  • Facility Assessment & Portfolio Management Program Development
  • Maintenance Program Development
  • Preventative Maintenance Transition Pl an
  • Facility Planning and Construction Program Development
  • Custodial Services Program Analysis
  • Grounds Keeping Program Analysis
  • EH& S Compliance Management Review
  • Organizational Design & Development
  • Staffing Plan Development
  • Non-Personnel Resources Review
  • Management Process Re-engineering
  • Budget Redevelopment

The deliverables included a chart depicting the process flow underlying the Implementation Program, including the primary work products or deliverables generated from each project and the corresponding input/output relationship between certain projects. A summary document describing the implementation planning approach and the Implementation Program itself was also included.

Subsequently, Draper & Associates was engaged to manage the implementation of the 13 projects, and out team has been key in positioning the Facilities Management Department to support the University of Arkansas well into the 21 st Century.

" 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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