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IBM Maximo serving Education: How STI Maintenance is Revolutionizing School Infrastructure Management in Quebec

11 January 2024 | Patrice Duchesne

In 2019, the Ministère de l’Éducation du Québec (Québec Ministry of Education) entrusted STI Maintenance with a mandate to modernize the management of the real estate assets of its primary and secondary public schools of school service centres (SSC) and English school boards. Tasked with calculating the Asset Maintenance Deficit (AMD), STI Maintenance committed to providing a detailed portrait of each school, assessing the quality of its infrastructure, and allocating an investment budget for its maintenance. This article highlights the challenges faced by STI Maintenance and the innovative solutions implemented by the company, including the use of the IBM Maximo tool.

Here, “assets” refers to the Ministry’s inventory of buildings composed of Quebec’s public elementary and high schools. STI Maintenance’s mandate for the MEQ was to calculate the Asset Maintenance Deficit (AMD).

This involved thoroughly evaluating every component of each school’s infrastructure to accurately assess its condition. The goal was to determine the quality of these components and allocate a suitable budget for maintaining each building according to the Ministry’s established standards.

The Challenges and Solutions

STI Maintenance was tasked with providing a tool to establish a consistent evaluation method for all public schools in Quebec. The government lacked an accurate assessment of the current situation and did not possess suitable tools to carry out the evaluation.

Obtaining a precise overview of each school’s condition and projecting maintenance needs to prevent further deterioration proved challenging, with around 4,000 elementary and high school buildings spread across the province.

The initial phase involved cataloguing various details of each school, such as the number of windows, doors, washrooms, flooring type, roof size, foundation condition, and more. This step was crucial due to the differences in school capacities and the widespread distribution of Quebec’s student population across different areas. It was essential to conduct a comprehensive inventory to gain a complete understanding of the situation.

To grasp the magnitude of the task, in 2019, the MEQ only had accurate information about the composition of 17% of its schools. This highlighted the substantial challenge of creating a reliable inventory.  From this inventory, an AMD would be calculated, facilitating a transparent, fair, and comparable allocation of resources across the public-school network, generating consensus, and fostering trust among stakeholders.

Collaborating with the SSC, STI Maintenance adjusted the MEQ’s approach by introducing 12 parameters for evaluating all schools. They used the gathered data to develop a streamlined tool for data management.

This revised approach led to significant efficiencies, reducing the time spent on analyses and reporting, the number of projects to carry out, and decreasing the amount of communication required among partners while providing a more accurate representation of Quebec’s school infrastructure.  The MEQ estimates it saved 90% of the time typically required to attain these outcomes.

This was achieved by implementing a customized version of the IBM Maximo software, renamed GIEES by the client. With this new tool, the MEQ could consolidate data more effectively than with its previous classification system.

Out of the previous 1,170,000 assets recorded in the old system, representing 17% of the total assets (potentially totalling 7 million assets to manage), there is now an average of 500 assets per building, totalling approximately 3 million assets, marking a 42% reduction compared to the previous count. This streamlined method has made inspections and future investment planning much more manageable.

IBM Maximo: An Innovative Tool

This project has showcased IBM Maximo’s versatility in effectively managing various asset types. Moreover, thanks to their knowledge and expertise, the STI Maintenance team integrated the categories and formulas developed by their SSC partners to adapt IBM Maximo to the unique requirements of Quebec’s school infrastructure. They also devised a guide to standardize inspections across the province.

One of IBM Maximo’s strengths is that it is easy to configure, and the STI Maintenance team was able to adapt it to an unprecedented context using the system’s fundamental concepts, all achieved through configuration without additional programming.

This adjustment required significant efforts to ensure the program was not altered while meeting the client’s needs. Critical to the requirements for success was ensuring that subsequent upgrades to IBM Maximo would not hinder the MEQ’s ongoing use of the software.

Benefits for the Whole Community

The implementation of STI Maintenance’s IBM Maximo system extends its impact well beyond MEQ’s internal operations, reaching into the broader community. Providing the government with more precise and standardized data for decision-making is of vital importance.  The quality and maintenance of Quebec’s schools are topics of widespread interest among a large portion of the population and enjoy unanimous support from political decision-makers.

Quebec has 72 SSCs, some of which contain numerous schools with large student and staff populations, while others serve fewer students. The tool had to be flexible enough to accommodate these diverse situations.

Furthermore, considering the limited resources available to schools, STI Maintenance designed the system to offer a comprehensive overview of building conditions in a manner that school staff could easily comprehend and execute.

An Impressive Collaborative Effort to Meet Objectives

This project required extensive collaboration among the MEQ, STI Maintenance and SSC representatives (including the client’s internal teams and STI Maintenance trainers) to coordinate the evolution of the project. This effort was compounded by the challenges posed by the pandemic, altering the dynamics of meetings.

Despite these obstacles, the objectives of the initial project phase were successfully met. Ongoing enhancements are being implemented to adapt to changing circumstances and feedback received after implementing the GIEES tool. These include adjustments such as factoring in cost indexing (especially concerning inflation), integrating new data, lessons learned from the past three years, and addressing emerging needs. Regional cost variations were also taken into account, acknowledging that the cost of identical work may differ across regions.

IBM Maximo proved to be the ideal system for this task due to its Application Designer application and automation scripts.  This enabled the system to be configured to the client’s specific needs, a significant advantage over competing software available in the market. Its web-based management simplifies usage compared to downloadable applications.

Maximo stands out by serving not only as an asset maintenance system but also for overall maintenance execution, project management, master planning, and financing, all integrated into a single system.

The Quebec government’s complete satisfaction is evident as STI Maintenance is replicating its successful approach for the Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI), which manages a broader inventory including schools, office towers, warehouses, detention centers, and more. A similar initiative is underway for Quebec’s CEGEPs and universities, with plans to expand this approach beyond Quebec’s borders in the future.