Work-Order Management

April 17, 2009
The FM team in Maricopa County, in Phoenix, AZ, deliver a high level of customer service by addressing work orders as expeditiously as possible

Location: Phoenix
County Size: 9,224 square miles
No. of Buildings: 177
Total Square Feet: 10.7 million

In Maricopa County, AZ, 109 full-time operations and maintenance employees in the facilities management department tackle more than 40,000 work requests annually. This is a gargantuan effort that requires the right tools, team members, and organizational structure – not to mention effective leadership. Headed up by Rick Barker, the team’s nationally (and internationally) recognized efforts in work-order management enable it to deliver a high level of customer service to the fourth most populated county in the United States.


If it makes sense, divide and conquer. Organize the maintenance team into smaller groups so members can address work requests for a group of facilities of like function or geographic proximity.

To address work orders as expeditiously as possible, personnel from the division are strategically located throughout Maricopa County. Six regional maintenance centers service the needs of smaller groups of buildings; a maintenance planning center supports these regional centers. “We’re trying to locate all of our regions and shops in close quarters to our customers,” explains Janet Palacino, director, facilities management department, Maricopa County, Phoenix. “[The regional centers] are grouped by geographic area, but then we subdivide each area by type of facility.” For example, one region contains correctional facilities; this region has employees that address requests from the jails, and the rest tackle requests from other regional facilities. “Part of the reason for that is, as an example, in your jail, you may need more plumbers and locksmiths than you need in your office facilities.”

The team’s work-order management system enables appropriate staffing allocation. It also ensures that work requests and preventive-maintenance activities are addressed and documented. Every work order is entered into a database (hosted on the county’s servers) by one of 90 building representatives throughout the county, or by a dispatcher at the maintenance planning center. After a user clicks on an electronic mail link and enters a work order, a dispatcher makes sure it’s routed to the appropriate regional supervisor, who assigns a tradesperson to the request.

The robust software, combined with the organization’s division into regional centers, ensures that requests are handled in the most efficient manner possible. Additionally, its reporting capabilities allow the organization to benchmark its facilities and set metrics to measure the team’s success.

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