Mark Geletka and Cornelius Wooten presented ”Beyond Benchmarking” at the sixtieth annual conference of the Eastern Region of APPA (the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers) in Pittsburgh, October 3–6, 2010.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) has been involved in a multiyear State System-led initiative to collect, analyze, and benchmark capital and operational performance. In 2009, senior leaders at IUP decided that they needed to go “beyond benchmarking” and use the data to create the knowledge to take action.
The audience heard Geletka and Wooten describe how they partnered with Sightlines, LLC, to identify opportunities for improvement and implement changes in the university’s capital planning and facilities operations processes.
In 2007, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education decided to use Sightlines, LLC, Return on Physical Assets (ROPA) process at all fourteen campuses to measure, monitor, and benchmark capital investments and facilities operational performance. After participating in this process and reviewing the data on the IUP campus for two years, Geletka, senior facilities administrator at IUP, decided it was an opportune time to use the knowledge they had gained from the process and take action.
IUP facilities and finance leadership realized that there were deficiencies in both the capital planning and facilities operation processes based on their performance against peer institutions. They also realized they needed to find a way to engage their staff and the university community to understand where the processes needed to improve and how to implement strategies to make change. Finally, they also needed to expand their capacity of a facilities staff that was already pressed for time, given needs to maintain the campus and manage new construction projects.
To improve the capital planning process, Dr. Wooten, IUP’s vice president for Administration and Finance, created a new Capital Budget Committee with broad representation from finance, facilities, academic, enrollment, and development area of the university. IUP then partnered with Sightlines to develop an Integrated Facilities Plan that began by engaging facilities staff in documenting a full inventory of facility project needs across the campus. That inventory was validated through a series of on-site meetings, and then presented to the Capital Budget Committee along with an analysis of possible building portfolios that provided options for capital investment and trade-offs for the committee to consider. The committee is working with Sightlines to create a multiyear capital plan that will guide capital investment decisions at IUP for the future.
To improve facilities operations, Geletka decided to drill deeper into the information he gained through the Sightlines ROPA process. He targeted key areas for operational improvement, including:
In order to enhance his understanding of best practices in these areas and to bring in more technical expertise, Mark asked Sightlines to drill down into the data collected to help find the root causes of some of the deficiencies, identify opportunities for improvement, and identify campuses similar to IUP that had best practices that could be replicated. Sightlines engaged IUP facilities staff in the process, expanded outreach to the campus community to better understand their expectations, and observed custodial operations and practices. A report that generated findings and opportunities for improvement was then used as a basis to involve the vice president for Administration and Finance and the associate vice president for Human Resources to create a plan of action to address key areas.
As a result of this work, IUP is in the process of:
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