Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Facilities Bring New Operational Realities

When we moved to our new headquarter facility many things changed. Staff expected the new building to be different, but few outside of the Facilities Services group understood the degree to which a new building requires new processes, new skills, and new efficiencies. Moving from facilities that were built in 1950 to a new state-of-the-art building, we were faced with a number of challenges in helping the entire organization make a successful operational transition. The old building had no air conditioning system and required minimal skills to support Plant Engineering operations, there was no building management technology in place, all facilities processes were paper-based, and the number of conference rooms was significantly short of demand. The transition required maximizing building efficiencies in all domains, increasing service levels and skill sets, and providing work flow management and room reservation systems to maximize utilization of resources.

To affect these significant changes a set of core strategies was articulated, accepted, and acted upon. They included outsourcing the Plant Engineering function in order to gain leverage on professional skill, resourcing, and technology issues. We also implemented a full suite of technology applications, including CAFM, CMMS, BMS, Helpdesk, Visitor Hoteling, and Conference Scheduling/Support with legacy systems such as PeopleSoft and the security system. This aggressive shift to technology integration supported an effort to re-engineer core processes in a first-tier effort, with later process work to focus on second and third tier processes.

Importantly, the new facility brought with it new costs. Using IFMA and BOMA benchmarking data and historical expense information, we were able to model ourselves against best-in-class organizations and identify opportunities for maximum improvement. That, in turn, has led to a current effort to project building operating and capital requirements well into the future using APPA methodologies, defining different options for level of care and service, and their associated costs. This effort is proving extremely beneficial in informing the organization about service level risks and opportunities, helping executives make well informed decisions about the use of corporate resources.

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