Streamlining Best Practices Across Facility Management
Every business can realize significant cost savings by implementing streamlined, automated processes in its daily operations.
Phil Wales, CEO, eBusiness Strategies (Spring 2011)
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In analyzing siloed processes, it is critical to understand how processes overlap to avert improvements in one area that diminish another in the RE/FM lifecycle. That way, each becomes more efficient than a single, isolated service offering.
How should companies actually automate? Management should appraise existing processes and determine good practices within those. Then, develop a standard approach for each service in concert with each other. Next, determine efficiencies to be gained from automation, such as rote process parts (data entry, printing reports) that a technology tool can perform, versus those that still require expert, decision-making employees. Therefore, while the tool generates communication support, executives can more efficiently perform analyses and determine optimum practices.
Consider the example of work flowing automatically to services or trades. End-users can electronically enter an issue that requires attention, indicating where work is needed. Approvals for certain types of work can be automatically routed to a business unit or facility manager to assess costs, approve, or return. Instead of chasing paper on work orders for operations, a work order does not need to be printed. Anyone with a mobile device can instead view upcoming tasks, and which parts each task requires. Among other attributes, automation streamlines communications. Even the Internet and Web-based applications have fundamentally changed process execution and created pronounced efficiencies. Systems, instead of individuals, can track and electronically monitor performance, cutting mundane labor. Thus, systems not only make the processes work better, but also permit more accurate decision-making.
Streamlining and automation can significantly boost bottom lines for real estate organizations' and corporations' bottom lines. Here are three examples of a major international company, a U. S. company, and a large electronics manufacturer.
Case Study No. 1
An international company expended a cumulative three months and hundreds of thousands of man-hours conducting its annual budgeting. The productivity drags included coping with incoming data from multiple locations and entering it into Excel spreadsheets, calculating the budget plan, and rolling it up to the next level. Inevitably, the plan was rolled up through as many as four to six different levels each year, with someone at the upper level asking questions, reversing the process to the bottom for research and answers, then re-rolling the numbers again.
Today, the process is standardized and enabled through technology implementation. With actual costs tracked against previous budgets at the site level, expenditure patterns can be assessed and a new budget quickly drafted. Since all data can now be rolled up automatically, upper management can simply drill down for more precise and real-time data instead of going back and forth between top and bottom for questions and answers. Overall, technology introduction has delivered remarkable results and virtually eliminated huge investments of tactical support hours each year.
Previously, RE/FM employees spent a staggering 20-25 percent of their time managing data flow. Good data processes and appropriate automation have eliminated that wasted time. Additionally, the company can reduce staff count or do more work with the same staff. Plus, assets can be managed more effectively, so the assets themselves become less costly to operate, also reducing costs. For example, better energy management lets the company manage electricity and gas usage more efficiently, as reflected in the cost of those commodities over previous years.