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Education Focus: The Role of Estates and Facilities Management in High Quality Teaching

School budgets were confirmed last month, and ‘continue to remain challenging’ , according to the DoE. As budget is allocated on the education of each pupil, as the number of students increases, so will the amount of money the school or college will receive. This means competition between educational establishments is fierce and scrupulous attention must be paid to both teaching standards and premises.

Estates / facilities managers play an integral part in the smooth running of an education establishment, which in turn supports the high quality teaching which makes a school’s reputation. Many schools, colleges and universities have a significant estate to manage, which tends to pose unique challenges to the estates / FM team. Keeping tracking of tasks using paperwork or a spreadsheet can quickly become inefficient, and the benefit of a centralised CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management) system, which is able to produce detailed workflow reports, becomes clear.

Efficient planning to save money

It is commonly known that regular preventative planned maintenance will reduce the overall repair bill of an asset as well as extending its life. But in practice, finding time to sit down and work out an efficient schedule at the same time as juggling reactive work is challenging. Using a CAFM system for this task, such as QFM by Service Works, can provide a significant amount of intelligence to make scheduling easier and more accurate. By analysing the historic data, FM software can calculate the appropriate levels of maintenance needed to effectively maintain equipment and ensure statutory compliance. It can even advise how many hours should be allocated for a PPM task in order to maximise the resources available. This deep insight allows the estates team more confidence in the condition of their assets, and in turn the schools can rely on their provision of high quality educational facilities.

FM in the field

The split of facilities on a multi-campus site and the timings of the academic day, as well as half-term breaks, can cause problems to organisational efficiency in an educational establishment. The flexibility of a CAFM system means that requests can continue to be logged outside of normal working hours, and be tracked by the user through a self-service feature in real time. As these tasks are stored centrally, they can be examined and allocated in the most logical order – taking into account priority status, location and the most efficient use of resources. For example, scheduling tools available through QFM can automate workflow, taking into account specific events such as open days or exams, to reduce manual administration and disruption. These requests can then be sent to the estates team via a tablet or smart phone, allowing effective communication across the workforce even when in different sites. Offline capabilities mean that even when out of range of Wi-Fi or in connectivity black spots, the engineer can still access the system and upload information to be transmitted when connection is restored.

Managing paperwork

As well as streamlining PPM and reactive requests, a school or college can use facilities management software to reduce time spent on administration and ensure legal compliance. For example, contractors can receive prompts when health and safety checks are due, subcontractor quotes can be compared against historic costs to ensure best value, and HR can be notified of staff and contractor DBS certification dates to ensure they are renewed before lapsing. For larger academic establishments, an online booking system for classrooms, lecture theatres, vehicles (i.e. minibuses) and student accommodation can help streamline bookings management, with cross-charging and automated invoice generation to support third-party revenue generation. In this way, time and resources are used to maximum capacity, and the school, college or university can focus more on student success and spend less energy on paperwork.

To find out more about how QFM facilities management software can help keep your school, college or university competitive, call our expert education team on 020 8877 4080, or email info@swg.com. Service Works also offers a complimentary guide on choosing the right FM system for your organisation – click here to request your copy.