Open-access content 15th September 2009
You know the benefits of a facility and property management system. Now all you need to do is convince your organisation. Michel Theriault guides you through the points of persuasion
17 September 2009
by Michel Theriault
Are you wasting a valuable asset? Facility and property management systems may not always be 'visible' but poor use can lead to substantial financial losses. Implementing a facility and property management system is the most important thing you can do to improve service, reduce present and future costs and preserve your assets. The range and flexibility of systems, including stand-alone, integrated or hosted web-based, put this capability in the hands of even small organisations.
However you must consider the impact on your business process before you choose a system and how to effectively implement it. There are four key benefits.
Make your end-to-end processes for service delivery more efficient, less prone to communication errors and more consistent using computerised processes and planning, web-based work request entry, automated workflow and even direct dispatch of work orders to contractors or your own staff through handheld devices.
Gain access to important data and information such as number of work orders by service, floor, department and other characteristics, response times, equipment information and workstation allocations. Use the system to shorten and simplify your capital planning and space planning activity. It can automatically calculate your charge-back costs and eliminate manual processing.
See what's going on in your operations. Track work orders, who is doing what, see comments on work and know who or which department is absorbing most of your resources. Understand the volume and type of moves and relocations. Track spending on equipment repairs so that you know immediately whether your legislative compliance requirements are met.
Generate reports and access raw data to look for patterns and areas where you need to take action, gathering the information you need to decide on key responsibilities such as resourcing, communication, process issues and costs. Data can also provide the evidence you need to justify initiatives and build business cases, not to mention benchmark results.
Most organisations quickly find that systems aren't as easy to use as they first seem. Chances are, organisational roadblocks can pose problems too. These can include existing processes that make the system difficult to integrate into your operations, interfacing with current systems, organisational design and operational challenges, the effort needed to provide the system with accurate information, cost of maintenance and upgrades, the resources needed to supply information and keep the system up-to-date and even resistance from staff who need to use it.
These problems are magnified when a system is implemented without an understanding of why you need it, what you will use it for and how it will integrate with the rest of your operations, including effective processes and training to ensure your staff support the initiative.
You need to plan for the resources required, provide refresher training, audit the system and processes after implementation to make sure it's working as intended and make appropriate changes to adjust and improve the processes. It's also possible that you may be collecting too much data or have installed a system that is too complicated for your needs. The information you get from your system is its most important feature, along with better management of work processes, yet information overload can paralyse your business.
But what if you have an underused system in place? The first thing you need to do is go back to square one. Fix the things that aren't working so that your system can start working for you, instead of against you.
If you haven't bought a system yet, ensure your new investment will deliver the benefits you expect and the results you need. Don't just consider the business implications, needs and priorities. Ensure your overall implementation plan addresses some of the fundamental problems organisations face when they install new systems. This needs to be in addition to the software implementation process your consultant or seller specialises in.
- Not enough advance planning
- Not selling the idea to staff
- Lack of change management
- Not planning for maintenance
- No follow-up
- Not using the information
Information is the most important ingredient to managing facilities and buildings successfully. Without it, you are working blind, relying on inaccurate or misleading anecdotal information, sometimes from staff who have been doing the same thing the same way for years.
Facility and property management systems aren't just about the software, they are also valuable tools. However, you need to put everything in place to make sure the tool is used effectively or it will weigh you down. Instead, a well-implemented system should be wind in your sails, moving you towards lower total cost, improved efficiency and enhanced service.
Michel Theriault is principal of Strategic Advisor, specialising in facility, asset and property management consulting and training
Three steps to successful implementation
1. Before you implement
Decide what your objectives and requirements are, including what you will do with the information you get from it. Strategically plan for a business rather than a software implementation alone. To do this you must assess your business, not just system, needs. Don't simply rely on your software consultant or vendor for a successful system implementation.
2. When you implement
Make sure the system is meeting your objectives. Put auditing and evaluation procedures in place, give your staff training and re-training, educate everyone on its value to promote support and ensure success. Listen carefully to your staff - their insight will be a valuable addition to your plan.
3. After you implement
Make sure you use the information the system gives you. Monitor and tweak processes, re-train your staff, conduct quality assurance on the inputs - and don't stop selling its value to your organisation.