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    How can FMs collect data on their facilities?

    Elizabeth Dukes

    How can FMs collect data on their facilities?When businesses first take the plunge and begin to use new facilities management solutions, one of their initial goals should be to collect more data about the performance of their office buildings. The beauty of FM software is that it helps office executives track everything in their facilities more closely, from their energy consumption to their employees' productivity.

    Gathering data is vitally important when you manage space for a large office. If you have a wealth of information at your fingertips, you can accomplish any number of things. Real-time data collection can help you make improvements to your budget, rearrange your offices and make smarter decisions about big changes like moves.

    The best facility management software solutions these days make data mining easier than ever. FM software monitors every change you make in real time, and in doing so, it helps you adjust your strategies on the fly. That doesn't mean that working with data is necessarily easy. According to E-Business Strategies, it requires a lot of critical thinking. E-Business Strategies' Richard Jordan advises that people should be willing to question themselves when they begin using new facilities management resources.

    "One of the critical steps in moving forward to a new technology solution is assessing what you have - the current state," Jordan wrote. "Too often organizations fall into the trap of setting a future state without really understanding what they currently have in place. This isn't just about technology. It is important to look at the big picture - what we are accomplishing with what we have now?"

    If you ask yourself the right questions, you'll be well on your way to success with data collection. For example:

    Where are you getting information?

    It's important that you have a good handle on where your data comes from, who enters it and who controls the collection process. You want to make sure your data is accurate, complete and being entered into your system in a timely fashion, and that begins with knowing your source. Are you collecting information from employees, supervisors, outside clients or someone else entirely? Does the collection process run smoothly?

    What are you learning?

    Ideally, you begin collecting data because you want it to improve your everyday operations, but first, you need to ask a more fundamental question - what information are you getting? Is it information directly tied to your buildings themselves, such as energy consumption or security data, or more indirectly relevant information, like data on your workers' productivity? Software solutions can measure a lot of different things, so make sure you're paying attention to the details that matter.

    Are you using it in real time?

    Anyone can gather information about their facilities slowly and analyze it later, after the fact, using a bunch of paper documents. That's nothing new. But the reason facilities management software works better is that it enables you to take in data instantly and apply it in the moment. For example, if you want to know how much space one of your departments had last month versus this month, you should be able to pull up it instantly on your dashboard.

    What's the result?

    Chances are that if you've begun using a new facility solution, you've done so with an end goal in mind. Maybe you want to decrease your budget. Maybe you want to raise office morale. Perhaps it's a matter of drumming up more productivity, security or eco-friendliness. Whatever your intentions, always be willing to ask yourself - what's my goal?

    Collecting data in facilities management is a laudable pursuit, but it's not the be-all and end-all. Begin with the true end in mind, and you can accomplish more.

    Elizabeth Dukes

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Elizabeth Dukes

    Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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