Best Practices, Facilities Management

Best-in-Class Technology Enablers in Facilities Management

Superior building operations. That’s what it means to be Best In Class. Operating a better building goes well beyond accounting, other controls, reporting cost and revenue information.

We’ve written extensively about what it takes to be BIC. Technology is one of the most important components because it’s the key enabler of so many things.

Most building management or FM systems are based around accounting and work order systems. These are driven by a central administration group. After all:

  • You need to have controls,

  • You need to be able to approve P.O’s and generate W.O’s

  • You need to be able to schedule work and keep track the dollars spent and charged

  • You need to take requests or issues (trouble tickets) from occupants or tenants.

  • You need to track issues to completion.

  • You have to be able to charge tenants.

All of these core functions are important and necessary. But, they are focused on supporting accounting and control, and tracking and reporting issues raised. Being a BIC building also means using technology to :

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  • Be proactive. Minimize tenant issues. Eliminate building failures which helps extend an asset’s life, and reduces energy consumption.

  • Enable people in the field (not just the central accounting and tracking folks). The right tools make sure they can get the information needed to do their job better..

  • Better collaborate with others for resolving problems as they arise. Often issues can be dealt with in near real time.

Being BIC requires that you have a technology strategy. This is a key element to achieving all the benefits and successes associated with BIC. Technology is a significant enabler of process improvements, operational efficiencies, and customer satisfaction. Remember, there’s nothing synonymous between poor execution and being BIC. Poorly executed and delivered technology is a showstopper.

Technology and process go hand in hand. Unfortunately some technologies force you into processes that may not work well for your business. It’s no different for FM operations. It’s only after reviewing your processes and making them more efficient, that the implementation of new technology works best. Applying technology to bad processes just means making the same mistakes faster and cheaper than you did before.

What are the best technology enablers for being BIC? How do you invest in the right technologies? What are the fundamental elements of BIC technologies in FM with so many options available?

It’s critical to map out your FM processes. Figure out how to make them better, or as good as they can be. Your people will know. It’s not a difficult exercise, so take the time to do it.  Whatever technologies you consider, make sure that they will support your process. Don’t force changes to your processes to fit the technology. The utilization of technology needs to be flexible. It shouldn’t leave you constrained to a fixed procedure.

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Here are four key enabling technologies to have at the core of your operations strategy.

  1. Embrace Mobility  – FM operations people are in the field.The Smartphone can do much more than make phone calls, read emails or play games. A Smartphone in the hands of a BIC Facilities Management team means:

    • Field staff is no longer chasing paper back to the office

    • Systems provide effective information about what is in the building (drawings, manuals, specs, maintenance schedules, service histories, etc.)

    • Collaboration tools are available for when problems can’t be solved off site.

  1. Open architectures –  deliver web application interfaces that “EASILY” integrate with other fundamental systems.  Plus, this allows core legacy systems to keep working, while giving the field people the tools that they need. This eliminates transcribing data from one system to another which is costly, inefficient, and prone to errors.

  1. Sharing – most systems are proprietary to a company, department, or application. But the future of systems is being able to provide protected access to the full community of interest for that building, or asset. For instance, you own the building, a PM manages it, tenants occupy it, and HVAC companies and others are contracted to help maintain it. If each of those groups shares critical information with each other, the building will run much more efficiently. Many processes currently force each stakeholder to have their own system, meaning there’s information is redundant..

    • An example of this inefficiency is only having an invoice showing what work your HVAC contractor has done. You then have to transcribe that into your system. But typically what gets transcribed is the accounting information, and not the critical maintenance information.

  1. Data Mining and Reporting is a fundamental attribute of a BIC system:

    • Actionable information can be discovered by asking “what if” questions or digging into the data. It’s possible to find patterns that are impacting the quality of your building. For instance, you could have an air handler that fails enough to be a problem, but not enough to notice the problem without the analytics to tell you.

    • BIC reporting helps your customers better understand the value and high quality services you’re delivering to them.

ID-10066540It’s a team of committed people who understand the importance of communication, collaboration, and how to best leverage enabling new technologies that will continue to be the BIC leaders. These two posts are good references in consideration of future building management systems, and mobile technology.

About jfgrayiii

Co-founder/CEO @mentionmapp. Former West Coast editor & contributor with @BetaKit. Keeping humanity in stories about technology. Always curious. @grayspective

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