Infrastructure management involves long term cycles of asset management planning and implementation, often for periods of a year or even longer. But another aspect of infrastructure management is dealing with the day to day desired work tasks. For example, on a military base, a campus or a large building, there will be requests for repair and re-stocking tasks as well as scheduled activities such as inspection and maintenance. Workflow management is the process of identifying these tasks, assigning tasks to workers (or contractors), setting priorities among tasks, and documenting the resulting work. Analysis of workflow tasks is also a useful activity, as problems can be identified (e.g. which elevator is breaking down most often?) and worker productivity monitored.
Work tasks may have a variety of forms and involve distinct skills. For example, author Don Coffelt’s facility management group provides the following services to campus departments:
- Heating and air conditioning
- Custodial services
- Roof and gutter repair
- Electrical repairs
- Window washing
- Elevator maintenance
- Pest Control
- Meeting setup
- Trash and recycling
In addition to service requests from departments, there are a large number of tasks generated from the facilities management group itself, such as ice and snow clearance and preventive maintenance. Figure 8.3.1 illustrates a typical preventive maintenance task, in this case clearing debris from a stormwater sewer sump. Departmental payments may also be required for work flow tasks, such as changing locks in the events of lost or misplaced keys.
Setting priorities among tasks is an important component of workflow management strategy. If tasks are simply handled in a first come, first served basis, then critical tasks such as safety hazards may be neglected. At the same time, a general buildup of unfulfilled tasks may require special efforts to catch up, such as contracting out more tasks or hiring more staff.
As with many aspects of infrastructure management, software and communication aids are available for workflow management. Service requests can be made directly and digitally, rather than using paper or telephone requests. Task completion can be documented by workers using mobile devices. Databases can track the status of tasks. Geographic information and computer aided design software can help route planning or identifying problem areas.