Thanks to a perfect storm of economic challenges, having the facilities data necessary to make wise planning and spending decisions is more important than ever. From hyperinflation, to higher costs, to longer lead times, to shrinking labor pools, the FM industry is facing some serious risks.
Building owners and facilities managers understand the value of data in this situation. What they don’t understand as well is what data they have, what data they’re missing, what data they maintain, and who maintains it.
Without a clear picture of your data, it’s a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
- Are you prepared to manage your organization’s biggest risks?
- Do you have the right data for effective capital planning?
- Are there blind spots in your data?
- Could your data use a refresh?
- Can you provide data-backed recommendations to your leadership team?
Your organization and building occupants are counting on you to stay ahead of the risks that come with long lead times and skyrocketing prices. It’s time to take control of your facilities data.
Getting a good grasp of your current data is step one. From there, you can determine what data you actually need and then start collecting and maintaining it.
Making Sense Of The Data You Already Have
The best place to start is mapping out what data you have, where it lives, and who’s responsible for it. Seeing all of that laid out in front of you will expose gaps and areas of concern.
Analyze your data as it stands today. How accurate is it? How up-to-date is it? Are you missing some key information?
Then ask yourself: if our facilities data isn’t complete, accurate, and up-to-date, how much of a risk is it to my organization?
In some cases, the risks of not having the world’s best facilities data may be small. If the facility runs on a break-replace model (where you simply replace an asset when it breaks down), having great data may not be as necessary. Cleaning up your data might actually cost you more than two replacements a year, so you can’t justify the cost. That’s ok — because you sat down, really looked at your data, weighed the risks, and only then decided you’re ok with inaccuracies.
For many organizations, however, the risks of poor quality data can be much greater. Many facilities don’t have the flexibility of waiting to replace an asset after it fails. If your facility has mission critical assets that cannot go down, you have to order replacements well in advance of their end-of-life. In that case, you need better data on your high-risk assets – so it makes sense to address your data accuracy issues.
Once you’ve determined:
- What data you have
- Where it lives
- Who maintains it
- How accurate and up-to-date it is
- If any data is missing
- The risks to your organization of having poor data
You can better understand the scope of your data’s shortcomings. Now it’s time to start making improvements.
Collecting The Facilities Data You Need
Whether you’re going to collect the data yourself or hire a third party to do it, don’t go into it without a plan. Determine what data you need to collect and why before you start.
Beware the temptation to collect data you don’t really need. Do you actually need the make, model, and serial number of every single asset? Will having that information bring value to your decision-making? Or are you collecting that information because it sounds good to have and it’ll make your data set seem more robust?
Maybe all you need to know for each asset is what it is, where it is, and when it was installed. Focus your efforts on gathering that information and simply take a photo of anything else.
Today’s better software tools let you include photos and documents. Digitize the most valuable pieces of info, then attach photos of the manufacturer label. That way, the label is there if you ever need it, but you don’t have to painstakingly transfer it all into your database.
The bottom line is: if there’s a compelling reason to track a certain piece of data, then do it. If not, then don’t. It’ll save you time during data collection and help you standardize what data is important for your organization.
A Note On In-House Vs. Third-Party Data Collection
Many building owners and facilities managers hire an outside firm for data collection because they think they don’t have the time to do it. Completely understandable.
But even if you use a third party, you’re still investing a lot of your team’s time during the process. Someone from your team has to escort the outside contractors as they collect data – to give them access to rooms, guide them through the facility, and answer any questions.
Instead, you could equip your own team (the people who know the building better than anyone) with iPads and a good data collection software. They could gather the data themselves in roughly the same amount of time they would otherwise spend escorting an outsider. And instead of waiting to get the results from your partner, your data would be available to your team right away.
It’s something to think about — especially since there are software tools available that make data collection faster and easier than ever before.
The Components Of A Good Data Collection Tool
You’ve mapped out your current data landscape. You’ve determined what additional data you need and why. Before you put boots on the ground gathering that data, make sure the team has the right tools for the job.
Whether you opt to hire an outside firm or capture your own data, a good software tool is a must. Clipboards and spreadsheets are a thing of the past. But which collection software should you use? Here are 6 key features to look for:
Location-based: Knowing where your assets are is just as important as knowing what they are. Look for data collection software that can map your assets onto a digital version of your floor plans.
Allows photo attachments: Taking pictures of manufacturer labels and the asset itself is an important part of data collection. Choose a software that makes it easy to take and upload photos as you go.
Recognizes text in photos: Known as optical character recognition (OCR) or text recognition, this feature “reads” the letters and numbers on photos of things like manufacturer labels and automatically inputs them into the correct data fields. Using a software with OCR makes data collection much faster, with fewer errors.
Customizable: It saves time and confusion in the field if you can set up which data fields you want collected for different asset types before data gathering begins. Find a software tool that lets you add or delete fields so data collectors only capture the data they need to.
Easy to use: The simpler and more intuitive a tool is, the faster your data collectors can learn it. This is especially important if you’re doing data capture using your own team. You want something that’s easy to navigate and only requires a few clicks to input data.
Works offline: Wifi isn’t always available during data collection. A good tool lets you continue uploading data even if you’re offline and then syncs once you have an internet connection.
AkitaBox Capture is a data collection app that does all this and more. It’s simple enough for anyone to learn in minutes, yet powerful enough to gather any data you require.
The pressure is on to take control of your facilities data. Why not turn to the data experts at AkitaBox for help?
Read the full article "Taking Control Of Your Facilities Data In Turbulent Economic Times" on Facility Executive Magazine.