Do research before rolling out new facilities tools

Consider data needs before adopting the latest and greatest asset management solution
Thursday, August 27, 2015
By William Roth

Asset and facility managers are constantly being bombarded with the latest in innovative technology and software that promises to revolutionize the way they manage their real estate portfolio. As asset management has become increasingly complex, organizations are searching for the “easy button” that will provide them answers to all their challenging facility questions.

The desire to find a software solution that will address all the priorities competing for an organization’s limited capital dollars at the push of a button has led several organizations to put the technology “cart before the horse”.

It’s important to lay the groundwork for the successful rollout of new tools (software, technology, etc.). Start by doing a clear analysis of an organization’s unique business objectives and processes, and then determine the organization’s core data needs.

The business objectives and processes will set out the overall goals of the asset management program, including the stakeholders that should be engaged, the processes that must be mapped, and the data that will be required.

For a tool to support the asset management program, the software must be able to deliver the type, granularity, volume and sources of data the organization requires.

Starting an asset management program by first licensing a piece of software will only result in a desired outcome on the rare occasions when an organization gets lucky. Relying on luck is generally not a wise business strategy. Most often, by putting technology first, organizations will find a mismatch between organizational needs and technology functionality.

An organization will end up with a piece of software that is not sophisticated enough to provide the analytics and reporting that are needed or, conversely, will have capabilities and complexity far beyond what the organization requires.

In the first case, the promises that were made during the early days of the project go unfulfilled. Stakeholders tend to become frustrated with the overall program as it fails to provide the organization with the functionality it needs. As a result, people tend to revert to the old way of doing things, which typically relies on extremely manual processes and Excel spreadsheets and can set an organization back considerably on its asset management sophistication.

In the second case, the additional, unwanted functionality tends to come at a higher price, requires significantly more training, and is more complex and complicated to keep up-to-date. Many organizations have implemented, customized and configured extremely complex software packages only to find out that there is no budget left to collect the data that will populate the software. Software without data provides absolutely no value to an organization.

As tempting as it is, and as exciting as a large software roll-out can be for an organization, the more prudent path is to take two steps back to the core of asset management. This will ensure that asset and facility managers have clarity with respect to the business processes, objectives and data that they will use to achieve the results they desire.  With technology in its proper place, an organization will be in a much stronger position to drive the analytics, prioritization and reporting that will result in significant improvement of its existing facilities.

Going mobile

“There’s an app for that” has become part of the modern lexicon.  Across all industries, everyone wants real-time access to volumes of information on personal mobile devices. The real property sector is no different.

Mobile has a cool factor that can lead organizations to jump into a program without putting a lot of thought into the why and the what behind the strategy. Everyone wants a tablet or smartphone for work. However, the costs of the applications, training and the hardware, which has a relatively short shelf life, can be considerable.

Effectively rolling out mobile technology can provide significant productivity increases for an organization. However, just as with the selection of a core software product, the decision to go mobile should also be based on clear business objectives with clearly articulated desired outcomes.

William (Bill) Roth is the managing partner and founder of Roth Integrated Asset Management Strategies Ltd. (Roth IAMS). 

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