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5 Roadblocks To Overcome In The Lifecycle Of Facilities Data

by | Jan 18, 2023 | Construction, Facilities Management, Facility Management, Maintenance, Technology

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You hear the terms “building lifecycle” and “asset lifecycle” a lot in facilities management. But did you ever stop to realize that your facilities data has a lifecycle, too?

In the simplest terms, the facilities data lifecycle has 3 main stages.

Facilities DataDesign/Construction – As the building comes to life, the construction firm records information on every aspect of the facility – including building materials, change orders, blueprints, as-built drawings, asset specs, warranties, and O&M manuals.

Operations – After construction is complete, the building data is handed over to the operations team. They rely on this data to properly manage the building. In addition, they add more data into the lifecycle via work orders, inspections, and facility condition assessments. Every individual asset lifecycle creates information that rolls up into the overall data lifecycle.

Next Construction Project – There’s a treasure trove of insight to be found in the data from the building’s operational phase. The building owner and construction firm take the lessons learned from the old building and apply them to the design and construction of the new building.

The valuable information you collect and maintain in each stage feeds directly into the next stage. The more smoothly this data flows through the lifecycle, the more easily and effectively you can manage your facilities.

Unfortunately, sometimes roadblocks can prevent this smooth flow of data. These are the 5 most common roadblocks we see that stunt the facilities data lifecycle.

AkitaBoxLifecycle Roadblock #1

Data Loss Within & Between Stages

The more siloed or disconnected your facilities data is, the greater the chance you’ll lose data as it makes its way through the lifecycle. Facility condition assessment (FCA) data is left on a shelf to collect dust. Preventive and reactive maintenance isn’t accurately tracked, therefore it’s not incorporated into capital planning.

When construction documentation is handed over to the building owner, an estimated one-third of that data is lost in the process. Owners end up spending $10.6 billion annually to recoup that lost data.

Let’s put that huge number into more understandable terms. It could take an owner a year to recapture the data lost in the handover process and input it into their CMMS system. Engineers have to spend extra time out in the field to collect it.

Preventive maintenance (PM) tasks are delayed. Instead of doing PM work every 3 months, maybe nothing could be done until month 9 when the right data was finally in the system. A field technician needs an O&M manual, but it’s not easy to find. So they spend valuable time searching for it. Every extra minute spent on tracking down data means time and money wasted.

Lifecycle Roadblock #2

Multiple Tools That Don’t Play Well Together

Oftentimes, facilities data is scattered throughout a hodge podge of different software tools, spreadsheets, and binders. Stakeholders throughout the construction and operations stages use different tools to collect and access data. For example, the firm conducting your FCA uses one tool while your maintenance techs track their work in a totally different tool. Sometimes those tools are applications, some are just paper and pen.

It’s a heavily manual process to transfer data from one tool to another – and often it must be done multiple times.

Another way to describe this situation is “interoperability.” When different tools and systems don’t work well together, there’s a low level of interoperability.

Poor interoperability is an expensive issue. It costs the property, construction, and facility management industry $15.8 billion every year to deal with interoperability problems. The highest costs are incurred during a facility’s operations and maintenance phase.

Lifecycle Roadblock #3

Managing Data Too Broadly

Typically, buildings aren’t managed down to the asset level. One reason for this is because many facilities management tools aren’t built for asset-level management.

This overly broad approach to data management means plenty of valuable information isn’t captured. For example, your tech can note that they fixed the hot-cold issue on the third floor, but there’s no way to know what assets were actually touched during the repair. You don’t know if it was the air handler unit or a vent that was the root cause of the issue.

Another example: There’s no easy way to track the upstream and downstream relationships between assets. If a pipe bursts, techs spend vital time trying to determine where the shutoff valve is.

Without more granular data, it’s extremely challenging to effectively manage your facility’s assets. You’re also unable to find and refine the data you need to track KPIs.

Lifecycle Roadblock #4

No Single Source Of Truth

If there’s no central location where all your facility data lives, how can you expect stakeholders to find the data they need when they need it? Instead, your team will struggle to sort through filing cabinets, binders, and spreadsheets that may or may not contain the most up-to-date information.

And don’t even get us started on how much facilities data is still paper-based and isn’t digitized. All of it is a recipe for confusion and uncertainty. Without a single source of truth, you and your team won’t have access to the data you need to do your jobs.

Facilities DataLifecycle Roadblock #5

FCAs Are Few And Far Between

The traditional approach to FCAs leaves much to be desired:

  • Only done every 3-7 years
  • Quickly becomes outdated
  • Must be re-done from scratch every time
  • Results don’t often come in an operations-friendly format

In the end, so much important facilities data is wasted or ignored. And that comes with a price. It’s estimated that U.S. operations and maintenance firms spend at least $4.8 billion annually verifying that documentation accurately represents existing conditions in their facilities – and another $613 million transferring that information into a useful format.

Enough is enough – it’s time to break down these barriers! Here are 4 ways you can get your facilities data flowing again.

Prevent Data Loss During Construction Documentation Handover

If you get the handover process wrong, you’re behind before you even start operating the facility.

Handover data is an excellent baseline of your facility’s condition. And it can continue to provide value to your operations team for years to come – IF you transfer it into a facilities management system where you can keep building on it and keep it current.

Consider selecting an FM software system for your new building that enables easy data transfer from the construction management system. For example, AkitaBox Connect links with Procore to migrate all desired construction data directly into the AkitaBox FM platform.

We discuss a number of other things you can do to help ensure data integrity during the handover process in this article: 6 Construction Handover Pain Points You Can Mitigate.

Use A Single, Cohesive Platform For All Facilities Management

Stop the chaos of trying to manage all aspects of your facilities across multiple tools. Comprehensive FM software now exists to handle everything – PM, FCAs, work orders, inspections, and capital planning. All your data can exist in the same ecosystem.

The more you have to manually transfer data back and forth between different tools, the greater the chance for errors and data loss – not to mention the extra time required to do so.

Complete FM software also serves as a single source of truth for data on everything from the boiler room to the boardroom. This data is much more easily accessible for fulfilling work orders, noting condition changes, capital planning, and other actions.

Additionally, a comprehensive FM platform can enable you to build a respectable digital twin. Keep in mind that a digital twin doesn’t have to be a fancy, interactive 3D model. Just knowing what assets you have and when you need to replace them can lay the groundwork for a great digital twin.

Learn more about how to get started creating a digital twin in this article: Defining “Digital Twin” for a New Generation.

Manage Your Facilities At The Asset Level

As we mentioned earlier, managing a building really comes down to managing all the individual assets that make up the building.

An FM software tool like AkitaBox lets you manage at the asset level. You can associate work orders, inspection results, condition notes, and other data with individual assets. It’s far easier to track performance, current status, and remaining lifecycle for each of your assets. Getting this granular gives you the precise data you need for more efficient facility management.

Here’s what this looks like in AkitaBox. Click an asset pin on your digital floorplan to immediately see all of the data for that asset – manufacturer info, condition status, pending work orders, and more.

Facilities DataConduct Living FCAs

The data in a traditional FCA – including the cost estimates and asset conditions – isn’t designed to be continuously updated. It’s cut off from the rest of the data lifecycle that could keep it alive. As a result, your FCA results become obsolete as soon as the assessment field work is completed.

Now imagine an FCA that never expires. Data that’s up-to-the-minute accurate. An assessment that only needs to be refreshed every 10 years. Data that’s reliable for budgeting and capital planning whenever you need it.

Software makes this possible – in particular, software that connects your FCA data with the rest of your facilities data in one system like AkitaBox does.

With all of your data in one platform, your data is interconnected – your maintenance history can feed into your FCA data, your FCA data can inform your preventive maintenance planning, and on and on. Your FCA becomes a truly connected part of your data lifecycle that feeds into and is fed by the lifecycle.

Breaking away from the traditional FCA isn’t as difficult as you might think. Check out this article to learn more: Moving From a Cyclical to a Continuous FCA

Improve Your Facilities Data Lifecycle

Maintaining the lifecycle of your facilities data isn’t as challenging as you might think. No matter how entrenched the roadblocks may seem in your organization, the facilities management fanatics at AkitaBox can help.

Visit our website to learn more. You can also subscribe to our blog to learn FM best practices, explore industry trends, and discover intriguing thought leadership.

Read the full article "5 Roadblocks To Overcome In The Lifecycle Of Facilities Data" on Facility Executive Magazine.

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