Facilities & Buildings

Charter School Network Captures Data for Better Contract Negotiations Success Story

A network of high-performing, tuition-free public charter schools in a major metropolitan area needed to address growing facility maintenance issues within its network. These schools also needed higher quality back-end data for better decision-making.

Challenge

When charter school executives started seeing an increase in teacher and principal complaints about the condition of their buildings, they decided to begin to find a better solution.

School staff was complaining about things like burnt out light bulbs, wall damage, broken items, or malfunctioning heating, ventilating and air condition (HVAC) systems. All these things obviously affected student learning and staff satisfaction within the school system.

The staff had to use Google forms to submit maintenance requests, which were then prioritized at a corporate level. This meant individual schools could not address their own issues efficiently.

Solution

After reviewing several computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) solutions, the charter school system chose UpKeep’s mobile-first solution

Executives at the charter school wanted a system that did not require sign-in or training and offered a familiar, clear and simple user interface, ideally on a smartphone. They wanted the new solution to be enthusiastically embraced by teachers as well as one that would provide usable back office data. They wanted to be able to understand issues across the board, the preventive maintenance needed, and how they could improve policy and culture.

UpKeep promised all of those capabilities and more.

Improved Data Collection and Organization

During the first phase of implementation, the charter school system wanted to improve the maintenance request process and create more transparency during work order resolutions. Previously, work requests had to be submitted by a limited Google form.

The charter school system wanted to improve communication between users. Teachers were given the ability to upload pictures to create a more complete work order. Technicians had what they needed to complete the work order. When a work order is finished, the requester is updated and can provide feedback.

As more work orders are collected in UpKeep, the charter schools can manipulate the resulting data to learn more about its facilities and make better long-term decisions about facility management, labor allocation, and priorities. 

Executives could now look at things within time ranges by school and by requester. Staff could better diagnose issues.

Previously, the team had to manually filter work orders by priority everyday on a Google sheet, which was cumbersome and often resulted in miscommunication. Now, communication has significantly improved with UpKeep’s system, where teachers submit requests on a request portal. A facilities manager quickly prioritizes and assigns work orders to technicians on UpKeep’s app, without having to spend laborious hours scrolling through a spreadsheet.  

Establishing a Preventive Maintenance Program

Once work order basics were completed and up and running, the team turned to establishing a preventive maintenance program in the second phase.

The charter schools can now use the data to inform how they should be preventing issues before they arise. The maintenance team is learning how to use that data to inform how often checks are performed and scheduling them into the future. For example, checks around AUB machines, fire alarms, and bathrooms are now scheduled on a rotational basis.

Performing preventive maintenance will be a huge time saver for the entire team. Previously, the CEO was getting emails and calls from teachers all the time with maintenance requests. This was a huge drain on his time and prevented the CEO from getting to the other work he needed to complete. Now, having a single portal where teachers can submit requests, paired with routine inspections, results in less of a frequency of requests.

Additionally, previous to using UpKeep, the maintenance team was performing a ton of reactive maintenance work orders. Recurring instances like broken air conditioning, or clogged faucets, were beginning to have long-term impacts on the organization. 

These issues were starting to impact enrollment, retention of teachers, and the overall culture of the school. Kids didn't feel safe, and parents and teachers weren't happy with the status of the buildings. 

With preventive maintenance work orders, schools can now routinely take care of building needs before they become larger issues.  

Capturing Data for Better Contract Negotiations

Each of the charter schools have different facility arrangements. Some of the buildings are leased, others are co-locations with the city’s public school system, and others are owned. Because of these different facility situations, executives wanted to be able to break out the organization’s data individually.

The executives wanted to understand the level of customer service that was being provided by the facilities team as well as the unique needs of each school. They wanted to be ready and equipped when it came for lease renewals so they could better illustrate the facilities’ issues in a comprehensive way.

UpKeep’s advanced analytics platform captures the data that the schools need to better track maintenance histories, costs, and meantime to repair to uphold their commitment to customer service. Additionally, they can track work order spend and frequency of parts replacement to better financially forecast for annual spending.