An Eye to the Future
To The Plant Operations Team:
Mid year in the fiscal cycle is a good time to review the current State of the Plant Operations division. All departments are tracking favorably with their current general fund budgets. In fact, we are projecting positive balances at year-end. This is particularly good news, as I will discuss later below.
Our auxiliary budgets, which have to do with the health of our continuing business operations, or enterprises, are also improving or holding steady. Overall, the efforts that we had made in reducing budgets earlier this year appear to have been implemented without an excessive impact on our activities. This is all good news since it will better enable us to deal with some of the bad news that we are hearing from Lansing on the condition of the State of Michigan’s budget and the likely filter-down effects that it will have on the University of Michigan.
As I write this, the State of Michigan’s House and Senate appropriations committees are considering Governor Engler’s proposed budget reductions. Under his plan, U of M would get a $9,089,481 rescission for 2003 funding that represents approximately 2% of our 2003 appropriation. This cut is for the current year, so you can see why it is good that we are carrying a positive GF balance mentioned above. We may be asked to make further cuts for this year to help make up our share of the $9 million.
Although it is not firm, up to an additional 15% reduction in State funding is possible for 2004. We have been very fortunate at U of M, unlike many of the other Big 10 universities, in that we have been able to avoid many of the major cost-cutting measures they have had to take in recent years. Although not as severe as our peer institutions, it does appear that we, too, will be asked to make deeper cuts next year.
We have held to all of our programs this past year - thanks to the creativity and ideas of many of you reading this article. For that, I thank you. But, we will need to seek even more efficiency gains in the coming year. Your help will again be needed. Every idea is worth consideration, so please come forward with any suggestions that you think will be viable.
One of the main tools that I think has enabled Plant Operations to be resilient in these stringent financial times has been our planning and implementation efforts with the Plant Operations Business Plan Vision 2005. The plan has been rolled out to all departments. Department plans are in place and many new initiatives are underway. As a result we are beginning to have successes in all of our four strategic initiatives: People, Customers, Internal Business Processes and Financial.
Some examples of our successes are increased customer contact through regular customer meetings and the creation of the Facilities Users Network (FUN); new easier-to-read accurate financial reports; new performance and personnel reports; we are beginning to roll out new Preventive Maintenance, Landscaping and Custodial routines; the creation of high performance teams is at an all time high; new Quality Inspection programs, and; utilization of new technologies such as robotics for floor cleaning. We are increasingly involved in the commissioning of our new buildings, which allows us to get more of the features needed for good maintenance and cleaning of buildings incorporated into the design. The Facility Condition Assessment Program has enabled us to focus funds for deferred maintenance to those areas that cause both us and our customers the most building problems. DACUMs are being developed to better focus our training efforts and define our work responsibilities. The CARE program appears to be a great success for recognizing the accomplishments of the Plant Operations team and encouraging above-average performance.
I could keep going on but space limits how long I can extol your accomplishments. And I mean “your”. None of what we are achieving could be accomplished without your dedication and commitment to the University and your expertise in the facilities management field. All of these accomplishments add to our continuous process and efficiency improvement. Remember; stick to the Business Plan and many of the budget issues we face will be taken care of.
Before I close, I want to call your attention to the Vision Statements that we developed as part of the Business Plan. (on page 3, column 1).
Plant Operations has a Vision of the kind of organization that we will become if we follow the business plan. If we, as the Plant Operations team, follow the plan and work together to achieve our goals, we will be able to deal with issues like the budget ones we now face. If we follow the plan, these issues will take care of themselves because as we continuously improve our means and methods of work, we will find new and better ways to conduct our work.
It’s not the “flavor of the month”; it is the way that we get from here to the vision. Our team needs all of you to take what we have developed and endorse it. Not just with words, but with your actions as well. Comment, be critical, but in a constructive way. Seek ways to improve and build.
Look at our Vision’s words; they embody great ideals. Plant Operations will make a difference if we can make this plan happen. We can overcome the budget hurdles if we make the plan happen. Remember; our success is in your hands.
Let me leave you with a quote from Mark Burnett, founder of the Eco Challenge:
The Temptation when the path to success gets too bumpy is to leap back into the comfort zone. Don’t. Keep pushing forward. Always forward. The comfort zone is the land of dreams and wishes. Success is the land of results, where all those dreams come true.
~ Rich Robben
Rich Robben, Director
Photo by Betty Alberts
Plant Operations Vision Statement
- To be an organization where continuous and measurable improvement in services is the standard.
- To be recognized by the University community for excellence in service, as a partner in solving our customers’ problems, and as the provider of choice.
- To be an innovative leader in facilities management.
- To be an organization where all employees are treated equitably and honestly.
- To be an effective, diverse work community.
- To be a learning organization, where all staff members are empowered and supported in reaching their full potential.
- To be a workplace where the atmosphere of trust encourages creativity and innovation.