Alan Slinkard is a Facilities Management project specialist at the University of Colorado Boulder. He’s also a former Microsoft and Apple employee who brings a tech-savvy edge to his work, and ideas like translation earbuds for non-English-speaking staff and drones that fly up and check gutters for icicles or use infrared signals to find energy loss.
His team recently won a $25,000 innovation grant from the university based on their use of OrangeQC. They found OrangeQC drastically improved communication between custodial supervisors and building proctors/managers.
Before OrangeQC, Slinkard says, “trust was pretty minimal” between supervisors and building proctors. Proctors thought they worked off of paper inspection forms, and that the supervisors were just printing the form and checking off boxes… without actually inspecting anything. The building proctors were frustrated with the lack of transparency. And the supervisors “didn’t think anybody cared.”
Then, they started using OrangeQC.
“It created a level of collaboration between our supervisory staff and building managers and proctors,” Slinkard says. It allowed proctors to feel confident in the information they received, and they were "impressed" when supervisors were honest in reporting and correcting problems.
Notes and photographs were two of the most important features that demonstrated to the proctors that custodial teams wanted to be open and transparent. Slinkard says the photos and notes have also helped them with training. They use examples of a job well done to train other staff members, and also to give credit during evaluations. When the job isn’t done right, those tools also give insight into areas for improvement.
Slinkard’s team had two surprises when they began using OrangeQC’s inspection software.
One was that “a lot of our employees were technology-illiterate other than being able to check their phones for emails or text messages . . . We had a ways to go in bringing our custodial supervisors and leads up to speed on technology,” Slinkard says. Now that they’ve adjusted, though, many “actually like playing with the iPad . . . they like the process of being able to take photographs and take notes.”
The other surprise was in the way supervisors scored the buildings. Switching to the inspection forms on OrangeQC helped them get “beyond that scale of 1–5,” he says. “It was demonstrating to them that you may think your unit is cleaning at a 1 or 2, but your customer is only paying for an APPA 3 or 3.5, so you’re really only at a 2 or 2.5. It was a learning curve for the supervisors.”
Slinkard says their walkthroughs “really helped improve the relationship between the custodial staff and the building occupants.” As supervisors go through the buildings to do inspections, they talk to occupants—who realize that the myth of custodians as “those little angels that come in in the middle of the night” to leave everything spotless isn’t true. In fact, they’re able to meet and thank the people who keep their buildings in great shape.