How to begin your digital facilities management journey

Whether you operate or own a supermarket, a retail chain, an educational institution or hotel, keeping a tight rein on facilities management processes and cost is important for the bottom line

March 22, 2018

Your decisions such as whether to repair or replace equipment can be time-consuming and costly without insights such as usage and repair history and costs.

“If everyday events and activities are recorded as digital business intelligence, we will be able to drive greater efficiency by improving communication with service providers, boost transparency and accountability, cut onerous administrative tasks and drive the value of our clients’ and partners’ real estate,” says Phil Clark, Head of Business Transformation, Integrated Facilities Management.

These daily activities could range from tracking the use of space by your employees, maintenance of your equipment such as photocopiers or air conditioning, monitoring the cleaning of your facilities and so on.

Businesses are increasingly replacing paper documentation with “end-to-end” automated processes to manage building maintenance and repair, improve energy management, provide employee-focused concierge services and more. Such integration has not only raised the bar for efficiencies and effectiveness but has set new standards for transparency, visibility and verifiability.

Still there are organizations which—for good reason—are reluctant to invest too soon, for fear of betting on the wrong horse in a technology race that is still being run. Without a trusted partner advising on the options, organizations are understandably hesitant to jump right into digital FM.

Here we provide the initial steps that you could take to make the transition to digitization easier.

 1. Identify the gaps in your operations

These gaps are often caused by miscommunications due to excessive paper work and phone calls to create job orders, scheduling of repairs or billing. Issues tend to become more complex when numerous staff—both internal and external (such as vendors)— are involved in the same project. Inaccurate reporting of work being done could also lead to inefficiencies, which will add to costs.

For instance, Pizza Hut’s corporate facilities unit oversees repair, maintenance, capital enhancement, equipment rollouts and energy upgrades for all corporate-owned locations in the U.S. However, in May 2012, Pizza Hut executives determined that its call center solutions system was not meeting the company’s needs. Operators often felt they were left unaware of what was happening with their facilities, and it was difficult to determine who was at fault for the miscommunications — the vendor, the call center or the restaurants.

2. Choose the right technology

Invest in technologies and systems to track, connect, evaluate and analyze, data that will drive intelligent business decisions. In the case of Pizza Hut, a convenient smartphone app allowing facilities teams to manage their work orders from the field was the answer. The app helped save valuable time and provided its restaurants with better, more responsive service. The technology for the app is part of the Corrigo Enterprise Platform. This platform also allows integration with Pizza Hut’s iPayables accounting software, which paves the way for easier vendor payment processes.

At JLL, we use Corrigo as one of our technology solutions to help with delivering business intelligence for our clients, ranging from family-owned businesses to government institutions. It automatically routes routine tasks to the best technicians or vendors available, generates task notifications and ensures correct invoicing.

The cloud-based system also allows all stakeholders to see what work is getting done, for instance, whether a vendor or a technician was on site and for how long. This is made possible by connecting all parties –facilities managers, vendors, sub-contractors and space users- into one digital network.

Communication is also enhanced with the use of portals and mobile apps. As every event is digitally recorded, paperwork is eliminated, and the analysis of such data allows companies to gain insights into their operations that support strategic decision making.

3. Integrate and collaborate

Ensure that your organization have employees (or has access to employees) who are technologically savvy and can think strategically and analytically. On-the-job or enhanced training for existing employees may be necessary.

A successful integration of any technology also requires teamwork. The FM teams as well as IT and Human Resources must collaborate to ensure that staff as well as contractors have the tools to deliver consistent and high-quality work.

For many companies, the transition to digital FM will require partnering with a service provider that already has the tools, technologies and talent. Present day companies have more opportunities than before to integrate smart devices and IoT (Internet of Things) strategies to enable the capture of richer data and allow for the automation of facilities management processes.

“Going digital enables us to gain richer data that allows us to monitor and manage facilities much better. It helps to rein in costs and ensure enhanced performance,” says Clark.

In the current era of digital drive, businesses big or small are challenged to explore and adopt rich data and technologies. For businesses to remain competitive, leveraging new technology to help overcome operational challenges is essential.