How to Implement Digital Facility Management Software
Most facility managers recognize the benefits of converting to a centralized digital platform. They’re fully aware that the cost avoidance and cost savings benefits from data-based decision making are huge— let alone the potential future benefits from leveraging technologies like IoT, BIM, and even AI.
Where most facility managers are getting held up is in the actual implementation. In our experience, there are a few common roadblocks:
- They are too busy carrying out their main responsibilities to take on a digital transformation project.
- They don’t want to make the wrong choice in tools.
As you’ll learn below, there are simple solutions to these challenges.
Digital Facility Management Success Factors
With the right advice and the right processes, your organization can turn digitization in to a business win. Here are some of the common threads in the success stories we’ve seen.
1. Following a Process that Works
We’ve learned that following a “start small, build big” strategy works really well for all sorts of tech implementation. Being able to roll out some quick wins provides visibility for the digitization work as a whole, and helps build support within your organization.
It’s important to remember that because managing a facility is so complex, the digitization work will become a program of individual projects.
Here’s a simplified outline of how we develop a program to drive digitization:
- Identify your top business objectives that align with your organizational mandate.
- Prioritize these objectives to deliver quick, efficient wins first.
- Budget planning.
- Start executing the individual digitization projects.
To prioritize objectives, we go through a qualification process using the following factors to determine how achievable they are:
- Barriers: challenges that must be overcome to work on the project.
- Enablers: reasons a project could be turned around more quickly.
- Timelines: availability of resources to help get the project done.
As a general rule, we order our list to put the most achievable projects first, and save longer term projects for later. But our clients’ gut feelings on priority also come into play. If something has been de-prioritized in the course of this process, it can be moved higher up the list, as long as there are no barriers or timeline challenges.
For example, a client may know that the turnaround time on work orders for repairs is a pain point for building occupants. The main barrier to working on that project is the availability of the team who manage the existing work order system. Delegating some of their current tasks would free up their time so they can work on the digitization project or providing project expertise to advise and consult with the business.
Once we’ve confirmed the project order, budgets need to be attached to each project in the program. This gives our clients the opportunity to plan projects across multiple fiscal years and plan budget cycles. There may be more traction for more extensive projects than beyond the current year.
There’s another great side benefit to this process: our clients are ready to jump on any project in the list if business priorities change. For example, if the HR department starts struggling to sign new talent, initiatives related to the workplace and user experience may take on a new priority.
2. Winning Executive or Stakeholder Buy In
It’s generally not hard to build a business case for digitization with executives due to the multitude of advantages it brings. Usual executive pain points include a lack of information about facility operations, untrustworthy data, or they’re simply not able to make informed data-related decisions at all. Digitization into a central, integrated platform solves all these problems.
Executives may become hesitant when it comes time to budget for the digitization program. However, once they learn about the long term cost savings, cost avoidance, and time savings benefits, they generally throw in their support.
Money can be saved in many ways once you’re dealing with correct and trustworthy data. For example, our clients are typically being asked for more space, but a way to work smarter with the existing space can avoid those costs or even lead to downsizing space requirements. Companies like Dell and American Express have saved millions by allowing some employees to work remotely, and by setting up a system to book workspaces when they’re in the office.
3. Having an Experienced Solutions Partner
Making the right choice of available tools often comes down to getting the right advice. While there are many tools out there, pairing the right tools with the right situation requires experience.
Look for a provider with a proven track record, and one that can fill in the gaps where your team is under-resourced. This keeps the implementation moving forward in a timely fashion.
4. Your Commitment to the Process
Even if your software provider is doing the heavy lifting on the digitization work, you as the client need to be aware of what’s going on and why.
The goal of the program is to have a positive effect on the business, so if the business team is absent from the process, then there leaves room for miscommunication and disjunction. You don’t want to end up with team members who say, “I didn’t know we were doing things this way”.
5. Accuracy of Existing Data
If people are currently collecting data but not reviewing the results, they may be less concerned with the accuracy of that data.
In a digitization project, misalignments are sometimes revealed once the historical numbers start coming together. In cases like this, a data scrubbing project is sometimes the right answer, which can take time. In the cases of manual records, a full audit may be required. The silver lining in situations like this is coming out with cleaner numbers.
Additionally, with the new system you will be preventing similar situations in the future. Your team will no longer be spending time putting the puzzle pieces together – instead their time will be spent collecting the right pieces and making the right decisions around the accuracy.
Realistically, software capable of handling the complex needs of a facility, building portfolio, or municipality won’t be free. But the cost savings and avoidance will more than make up the difference. There will be many measurable improvements to the business, and some subjective ones as well. Small wins lead to big savings.
The ROI on staff time alone will have an positive financial impact. For example, reports that currently take hours of manual work will be available at a keystroke. Staff will be able to spend more time on forecasting and planning future improvements.
7. Long Term Vision
You can’t digitize an entire business overnight. In a full digitization process, it’s important to recognize that there are multiple finish lines over time.
For teams who stick to the vision of digitized efficiency over multiple years, business objectives can be realized, and the results really do multiply over time.
Horizant has helped public and private organizations across North America digitize their operations successfully. From energy utilities to hospitals and educational institutions, office complexes to entire cities, we implement systems that bring you the information you need faster.
Horizant’s à la carte menu of services includes all the expertise you need to move projects forward, and can adapt to suit the bandwidth of your team.