A New Work Order System with Archibus 2022
If you have ever needed something fixed, you’ve probably submitted a work order request and are likely already familiar with Northeastern Facilities Operations. One of the many responsibilities of the Department is to respond to work orders. This month, Northeastern Facilities ITS is transitioning to a new system, Archibus 2022, which will streamline the work order process for students, faculty, and staff, as well as a variety of other operations for Facilities staff. Archibus is a workplace management system. The software integrates people, data, roles, and goals to help optimize daily work tasks and responsibilities. Northeastern has been using the Archibus software to spatially manage floor plans, room numbers, and GIS data. Now, Archibus will also be used to manage work orders by deploying two new modules: Corrective Maintenance and Preventive Maintenance. “Each year we get somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 work orders,” says Carl Parisien, Associate Director of Facilities Infrastructure and Applications. “They come in from all sources – students, faculty, and staff.”
The process of transitioning to the Archibus system started about nine months ago, says Parisien. “The current system that we’ve had in place for about seven years now is a proprietary custom-made work order system. It uses some components of the Archibus database but at this point, we’ve outgrown it. We were looking to replace it with something that was more ‘out-of-the-box’ and wouldn’t require a lot of custom development work.”
As the primary users of the new software system, Archibus will most significantly affect Facilities staff. To ensure a smooth transition, Parisien and his team started by familiarizing themselves with the needs of the staff members, especially those that make up the various trade groups. This “requirements gathering” step along took several months to complete, and in some ways, it is an ongoing effort. “There are about 350 internal Facilities users that use our current system,” explains Parisien. “One by one, we had to map out each existing FMCore user and transition that to Archibus 2022. For example, we had to ask: ‘Is this person a supervisor or craftsperson or a contractor, what trade group are they part of, and what privileges should they have in Archibus 2022?’ And that was a pretty big challenge. Nothing from FMCore mapped out directly to Archibus 2022. We spent a month just understanding where each person should fit in the new software application.”
The team also spent a good deal of time building the proper work order and problem-type workflow to meet Northeastern’s needs in Archibus. “What people don’t see when you fill out the form to submit a new work request,” explains Parisien, “is that there is a background workflow to that.” When a work request is submitted, the form must get routed to the correct Facilities supervisor. For example, “the form and the request have to get routed to the electrical supervisor if it’s an electrical problem,” says Parisien. From there, the task must be assigned within the trade group, and then the designated trades person addresses the problem. Each step or status change in this process must be correctly built into the Archibus workflow.
Despite the challenges along the way, Parisien and his team are close to finalizing the last details of the transition. Over the course of the next two weeks, they will be rolling out a series of training sessions for supervisors, managers, and crafts people within Facilities to learn how to use the software. The same will be done for the Oakland campus.
This will culminate with a “cutover date,” where Northeastern will officially make the switch to the Archibus 2022 software. The tentative cutover date for the transition is Saturday, October 22nd. “During this time, there will be a complete work order outage for probably about four hours while we make the switch,” says Parisien.
Once the switch is complete, students, faculty, and staff can expect to find a more streamlined and accessible version of the work order request system. The online form will be found at the same link within the MyNortheastern portal, however, the form itself will look very different, as it was developed in partnership with the ITS Service Now team. Users will also be able to access the form through the mobile app GlobalProtect, as well as several other web pages. “The form itself is going to be far easier for people to use, but at the same time, the way work orders are processed internally will remain essentially unchanged,” summarizes Parisien. “That’s the big takeaway here.”
“Most importantly, none of these efforts would have come to fruition without the help, knowledge, and expertise of many people throughout the entire PREF organization,” Parisien concludes.
Written by Daria Healey, September 23rd, 2022