Efficient Workflow Management in Four Steps
By Brian Letendre, Global Technical Services Standards Director - Workflow & Workforce Productivity, CBRE
Workflow Management or Work Execution Management is a foundational pillar, serving as the cornerstone of CBRE’s Equipment Maintenance and Asset Reliability program.
The success of a good maintenance management program depends largely on how work orders are managed. The purpose of the workflow process is to increase the safety, work quality, and efficiency of managing self-performance and third party activities. As an outsourced facility service provider responsible for delivering specific contractual obligations and service levels across variable commercial models, managing labor productivity is extremely critical. Effective and optimal management of our field resources to attain high levels of productivity is imperative to sustaining our cost leadership goals.
Workflow Management establishes consistent and efficient work processes and procedures that drive proper behaviors and the direction of the flow of work through the various structured stages of the work execution process (Initiation, Planning, Scheduling, and Execution). By coupling structure and efficiency with technology, we increase resource optimization and improve the quality and speed of service delivery during the execution of asset reliability activities.
Its foundation rests in a set of global standards designed to instill consistent work processes that increase safety, quality of work, and workforce productivity. Efficiencies are derived from the removal of waste and non-value added activities associated with the job during the “execution process” (addressed in planning), delays that occur “between jobs” (scheduling), and “continuous process improvements” delivered through the improvement feedback loop (work execution).
Standardization serves to provide consistency and simplification, while automation streamlines processes that increase efficiency. This is achieved by utilizing the full capabilities and functionality of the enabling technology (CMMS— Computerized Maintenance Management System), where we begin to realize the significant benefits associated with a technology enabled Workflow process. As one might expect, today’s available technologies are designed with the primary purpose to drive efficiencies, and I’m happy to share some examples of how it is used in workflow and contributes to increased safety, work quality, and workforce productivity.
Initiation (Exclusive to Outsourced Service Providers)
Initiation is designed to ensure completeness and accuracy of the information contained in an initial service request, allowing it to be transferred into an actionable work order.
Workflow Management establishes consistent and efficient work processes and procedures that drive proper behaviors and the direction of the flow of work
During this work status, a series of checks and balances are applied against the service request to validate the captured information about the request.
This includes items such as location, contact information, importance or urgency, work duplication, warrantee information, work type as well as other information unique to an outsourced service provider that has an exclusive scope of work to deliver as specified in our service contract.
The vast majority of Enterprise Facility Management asset related work can be considered recurring or repeatable work. A significant advantage to using CMMS technology is to institutionalize and leverage previous work planning efforts and reapply this knowledge to newly generated work at a small fraction of the initial planning effort. Improvement occurs with each planning cycle. By identifying and coordinating all the requirements needed to safely and properly execute the work in advance for the technicians, we remove waste, delays, and other non-essential activities associated with the work execution process. This increases the productivity of our technicians by allowing them to increase time spent applying their skills for which they have been specifically trained, and performing value added and necessary tasks required to maintain/operate/repair equipment to ensure asset reliability.
Embedded scheduling tools and a structured process that applies a high degree of coordination will optimize resource utilization and increase productivity. Scheduling makes sure the right work gets done at the correct time in the most efficient manner. Web-enabled scheduling platforms serve as an extension of the work distribution process by passing planned and scheduled work on to mobile technology tools that reside in the hands of the end user (technician). These automated processes all contribute to the reduction of waste and process dependent administrative time/effort found in manual processes and expedites the transfer of information. These gains drive savings associated with the labor component. This increased capacity of existing resources can then be reapplied or re-distributed to perform additional work and increase the volume and scope of cost effective self-performed work.
In an outsourced service provider model, approximately 80 percent of our costs are associated with service delivery, the costs associated with work we self-perform and work provided by third parties. This dictates the importance of proficient and effective labor management practices.
At this step in the workflow process we rely on the knowledge, skills, and feedback from our highly trained technical workforce. Technician feedback and information learned during the execution of the work are fed back and incorporated into the system of record (CMMS system), and are a critical component to driving continuous improvement. To accelerate the feedback process, it’s ideal to have a mobile technology solution to facilitate the easy capture of this technician feedback.
Workflow delivers improved safety, quality of work, and workforce productivity. The planning effort contributes when technically competent planners plan out the work requirements for the job in advance, avoiding delays incurred during the job.
The application of proper scheduling techniques reduces delays encountered between jobs, while robust technician feedback improves the entire job the next time it is executed. The application of each workflow process contributes incremental and accumulative increases in workforce productivity. Aware that many organizations have failed in their attempt to implement an effective and sustainable work flow/work execution program. CBRE approached this endeavor, aware of and prepared to address prominent failure points and influential factors as prevention to failure. Successful implementation relied on acceptance to and embracing change, a culture-shift to reliability principles, a means to measure and trend progress and performance, and embedding the behaviors and leadership required ensuring successful deployment, sustainability, and averting failure.