Sunday, July 11, 2010

Three Pivot Points That Are Influencing the Future of FM – Part 3

This is the third and final in a three part post on issues the author feels are affecting the FM profession

Pivot Point: The Explosion of FM Data

As building operations have increased in complexity over the years so has the data available from building systems and the need to analyze data and make fact-based decisions. FM’s and their cohorts are challenged to make sense of and synthesize data from different systems to present a complete and rational picture of operations. Not to say that we have arrived at a juncture of data and rationality, but at least we can see the intersection from where we are today.

Expanding beyond the building envelope, managing portfolios of multiple properties only increases the complexity of the equation and the challenge of reaching that desired intersection. While there have long been portfolio management systems and building management systems the two have not often worked hand in hand. Too often, in fact, they have not been viewed as part of the same equation. The real estate folks have their systems and the operations team has theirs. Seldom are they integrated.

In today’s world that simply is no longer acceptable.
Large portfolios represent large investment that must be optimized in all dimensions to support financial health and strength. That means that real estate portfolio management and operational systems management should be viewed as part of one whole, not two separates.

Corporate Real Estate (CRE) professionals care about strategic planning, forecasting requirements and business drivers. They understand the financials of the deal but not necessarily the life cycle operating costs of the deal. They need to track inventory, utilization, depreciation and implications to the corporate bottom line. Like FM’s, their operational cousins, they typically deal with a number of different systems to accomplish all of this.

FM’s who are focused on building or site operations deal with a different set of requirements, systems and data. On the building side of their domain they care about operating costs, risk mitigation, compliance issues, energy efficiency, lean processes and meeting service level agreements.

The two worlds seem different but are interdependent. New generations of software will integrate them in ways that improve operations on both sides of the equation, making the interdependencies visible and actionable. Portfolio information about asset management and utilization will help operators understand building profiles. Service KPI’s will be tracked across the enterprise and integrated with financials. Energy management will be dashboarded and enable financial modeling and troubleshooting using the same analytical tools.

One of the positive effects of the economic meltdown will be an increased focus on efficiency coming out of the experience. Capital investment will flow to programs and systems that help to lean operations, improve performance and increase efficiencies.

The Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE) has taken on the challenge of expanding the alignment agenda beyond organizational boundaries, with the goal of unifying core processes industry wide, including standardizing how information is shared. OSCRE aims to accomplish this by establishing standards that will be the framework for unifying information flow and execution. Already, standards for Work Request and Work Order Fulfillment, Lease Abstract Exchange, Lease Delivery, Occupiers Cost and Portfolio Information Exchange are in place, with others such as Investment Valuation in process. OSCRE has plans for the operational side of FM as well.

“Facilities Management: An interest group is forming to extend the seminal work on neutral work request and work order exchanges. Work management is fundamental to many categories of capital asset management, accommodations, and maintenance management. This group will first establish market drivers for ongoing initiatives and then start multiple technical workgroups and/or engineering initiatives.”
Excerpt from OSCRE website

FM organizations are now awash in data. But what are we doing with it, and how are we doing it? Is it coherent and meaningful data, or are we simply counting to count? How effective are we in gleaning wisdom from data, and what changes as a result? These are key questions to be dealt with if you have not already. Now and more so in the future, the FM suite will be home to analysts who sift data and look for patterns and trends, discerning nuggets of information that reveal truth, risk and opportunity.

There are others of course, but these three pivot points are vital to our profession in the coming years. Understanding the implications of the social and economic changes that seem to be everywhere these days, aligning ourselves and our organizations to improve speed and agility, and taking advantage of the information explosion are all first level concerns that demand diligent attention and action.

Our world is not the same as it used to be. Most people realize that fundamental changes are occurring. Those who interpret this as good news, as a chance to create and achieve will embrace the changes required to turn opportunity into reality.

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