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Physical Plant names teams for reengineering effort

On the heels of an internal initiative to modernize operations and respond to changing needs, Physical Plant is formally joining the reengineering effort with the appointment of two more teams that will review custodial services and mail.

The new teams were named by Senior Vice President William R. Dickson, chairman of the Reengineering Steering Committee, and Professor James D. Bruce, vice president for information systems and reengineering program manager. Mr. Dickson will serve as sponsor of the teams and said that both expect to have suggested improvements ready for trial by next spring.


Last winter, Physical Plant, under its new director Victoria Sirianni, began a systematic look at community needs and current practices in order to develop a strategic vision for the organization. After investigating MIT's plant performance in relation to comparable organizations, 11 customer feedback meetings in the spring laid a basis for a new customer service initiative which is establishing standards for Physical Plant-customer interaction and response (see box below).

Now, Karen A. Nilsson, assistant director of operations in the Campus Activities Complex, is captain of the new Custodial Services Team, which is composed of George E. Carney, a shift supervisor in Building Services and Alvin S. Clarke, Sharon Clute and Helen M. Lowthers, all custodians in Building Services. Internal MIT advisors to the team are Katherine K. Allen, assistant to the vice president for information systems; Robert W. Coates, facilities officer at Whitaker College; Sandra H. Lett, administrative assistant in athletics, and Kenneth R. Wisentaner, associate director of housing. Len Glick of CSC Index will also support the effort.

The Custodial Services Team is charged with examining different approaches that will economically respond to the ever-growing campus and increasing customer requests for service. Its role is to continue to improve the delivery of custodial services to the MIT community by exploring team-based organiational practices that enhance employee commitment, development and ownership.


An ad hoc Mail Committee appointed by Mr. Dickson last year, determined that no group at MIT has had the responsibility to view mail processes from an Institute-wide perspective while mail volume has grown to 25 million pieces per year costing $6 million to process.

Captain of the new team that plans to bring coherence to MIT's mail is David Lambert, manager of computer operations in Information Systems' Operations and Systems. Team members are Glenn Johnston, production manager at Graphic Arts; Michael McNamara, senior purchasing agent in Purchasing and Stores; Austin Petzke, operations supervisor in Physical Plant's Building Services, and Paula Suvanto, administrative officer in the Center for Space Research.

Beyond their general mandate, they will look at problems such as junk mail, both external and internal; lack of uniformity in mailing practices which preclude both automated handling and possible discounts from the US Postal Service. The team hopes to have a pilot program ready for testing before the end of 1994.

Yet to be named, Mr. Dickson said, is a team to redesign the process for repair and maintenance of Institute property and equipment.

A version of this article appeared in the October 5, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 7).

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