Sunday, September 7, 2008

CRE/FM Standardization Is Coming of Age

The Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE) recently announced publication of the Work Request & Work Order Fulfillment Standard Version 1.0, designed to automate service requests, work order management and report generation between stakeholders with shared business processes, including occupants, service providers, suppliers and owners. The standard is applicable for Corporate, Commercial, Industrial and Multi-Family sectors of real estate. Read the entire OSCRE press release here

If you haven’t noticed the increasing momentum of standardization in the CRE/FM arena then you haven’t been paying attention. The explosion of applications, increasing demand for data-centric operations analyses and decision support, and increasing speed coupled with larger risk are all exerting pressure on existing systems and structures. For well over a decade now we have been cobbling together a series of semi-elegant solutions. Most of the time they are pretty good solutions, but they must be reengineered each time the architecture of relationships changes.

I once outsourced a large maintenance operation at an electronic manufacturing plant. We had nearly two million square feet of production space, test labs, robotic manufacturing, and fab space. In other words, there was a lot of risk. The outsourced provider brought with them a nifty work order and maintenance management application, proprietary of course, and immediately put all of our data into it. And the instant they did we were trapped. As long as we retained them as our provider all was good. But if we ever had to sever that relationship we knew our data would be lost. That was before interoperability standardization made its way into our little corner of the world. Thank goodness it has.

Fifteen years ago we were talking about HVAC interoperability, finally being able to monitor and manage different systems from different manufacturers, linking them in a fashion that allowed us to take a holistic approach to managing the entire system from a global perspective. Today, that same change is occurring in work processes and applications that we all use. Owners, landlords, tenants, contractors, and sub-contractors will all benefit from common and aligned processes and tools. Supply chain management will experience the same metamorphosis as HVAC interoperability did, eventually maturing into a trusted tool.

The key, of course, is the quality of the data in the system. As the new standard becomes institutionalized across the industry operations will become more transparent, efficient, and presumably more effective. It will, however, expose those who do not know their data or have reliable data. If you don’t have your data house in order then it’s time to get busy.

OSCRE is doing good work. It has taken a while to gather momentum but the progress this industry group is making is notable. Participants include a virtual Who’s Who of the real estate industry, often competitors in business but collaborating to assure consistent, fair, and beneficial standards are in place. Check it out at

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