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Facility Management Blind Spots: How to Eliminate Them

Property or facility management offices are usually chaotic when the unexpected happens – a major tenant is mad, a piece of equipment is malfunctioning, etc. That chaos is caused when unanticipated problems within your facility occur, whether it be a customer complaint, or a building emergency. While these issues are reactively being dealt with, you are easily blindsided by avoidable operational issues that arise, such as problems with specific vendors, gaps in internal processes, aging equipment, etc. These unseen issues or blind spots directly impact your bottom line by eating away at time, burning budget, and interfering with responding to occupant or tenant’s needs.

Eliminating these costly blind spots starts at the core of a building’s data model. A building or organization’s data model should be the transparent, single source of truth for all operational data, assets, and infrastructure. You can use this information collectively to better understand interactions between different people (owners, occupants, managers, visitors, vendors, etc.) and departments in a given building. This results in strong operational intelligence to help understand different performance trends, reoccurring issues, and how to lower costs without impacting customer satisfaction.

A truly transparent, integrated and comprehensive data model allows for deeper and more strategic insight into building operations such as what work can be outsourced without sacrificing results, which buildings are top performers and why, etc. When the data model is missing information streams or doesn’t account for all involved stakeholders, you encounter blind spots that impact your decision making. Here are five of the most common ones.

Blind Spot #1: Looking at cost alone instead of cost vs. quality
Think back to your economics 101 class and the supply (cost) and demand (quality) curve – the optimal point is where facility management teams want to be in where cost and quality are balanced. That’s where you’ll find the greatest value. Too many people use “cost cutting” and “value engineering” interchangeably, but there is a world of different between the two. Focusing solely on the cost side of the equation can erode both occupant relationships and facility value. Striking a balance between will provide the best results.

Blind Spot #2: No Proof of contractor certification and training
You need visibility into all training, safety, and insurance certificates for anyone performing work on your behalf – that includes internal staff, vendors, and their subcontractors. Relying on information provided by vendors of the status of contractor certification and training just to find out six months down the road that in fact vendors were not properly trained, puts you at risk. Alternatively, the organization’s data model should be the hub of all information related to trainings and other regulations for vendors and staff. You can use this data to create automatic alerts notifying managers when training or a certification is about to expire as well as perform random audits to ensure all standard procedures are met. Having this information in one central place allows you to drill down into the raw data to see who, specifically, certified that the credentials were valid, making it more likely that the data will be accurate. Implementing these checks and procedures will help manage facilities proactively rather than reacting last minute to expiring certifications and trainings.

Blind Spot #3: Having too little visibility into the performance of you building(s)
Too often we rely on word of mouth communication, without proper data, to determine the real status and condition of buildings. If you aren’t making operational decisions based on hard data, you could be doing more harm than good, impacting the satisfaction of occupants, and putting building safety at risk. Instead, your facility management software should be collecting valuable data from buildings that can be viewed in one central platform, so you can dig below the surface to know how they are operating and what needs to be fixed.

Blind Spot #4: Managing too many metrics
If you focus on all of data that can be measured rather than the data that should be measured, you’re going to be overwhelmed. Measuring too many metrics will cause teams to lose sight of what actually matters, and focusing on the wrong ones will cause them to make uniformed decisions which will impact building operations. Focus on what will help you measure progress toward your goals and how, then define which KPIs should be measured.

Blind Spot #5: Only relying on historical reporting
Relying only on historical reporting means that you’re always looking backwards to make future decisions, so sometimes you can’t see what’s right in front of you. Each year, month, or even day, brings different variables (sometimes out of your control) that can impact building performance. You can’t solely rely on past data to understand what’s happening today and what needs your attention immediately. We suggest building a dashboard with no more than five KPIs that represents what you need to see every day to make sure your area of responsibility is covered. This allows you to manage by exception, rather than parsing through multiple data feeds and living in spread sheets.

Creating a comprehensive, transparent data model will ultimately provide the insights needed to transform property management approaches from reactive to proactive and allow you to make more informed decisions. Making this jump starts with gaining visibility into building operations and eliminating these costly blind spots.

Jeff Thompson, Co-Founder/CEO, AwareManager
Jeff Thompson is co-founder and CEO of AwareManager. He leads the company's commercial and corporate real estate clients’ most complex projects. By combining his industry and IT expertise, Jeff helps organizations get data models set up correctly from the very start and helps them overcome major hurdles to user adoption, data-driven decision-making and stakeholder engagement.

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