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Improving Facilities Management Through Information Technology

  • ID: 42712
  • Report
  • February 1998
  • 98 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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The expanding scope of facilities management (FM) in today’s businesses means that organizations can no longer view the FM function as strictly a cost of
doing business. Even incremental improvements in FM can have dramatic effects on the bottom line. Earlier research conducted by the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) reveals that “best-practice” organizations treat FM as an investment—an asset that adds value, yields a return, links to strategy, and enables the organization to achieve its goals and objectives. The quality of the facilities management program is crucial to its ability to have an
impact on the bottom line. To do so, it takes more than just numbers. It takes knowing both why and how organizations use technology, outsourcing relationships, space utilization strategies, and preventive maintenance programs to affect the quality of the FM function. Information technology (IT) is becoming an especially prominent component of a quality FM function. Recent technology developments have allowed organizations to maximize the value of FM by simplifying key FM activities such as responding to service requests, managing property portfolios, creating the FM strategic plan, searching for information, verifying data, and interacting with other organizational systems.

This multi-organization benchmarking study is designed to identify and examine innovations, best practices, and key trends in the area of improving facilities management through information technology and to gain insights and learnings about the process. This report highlights ways in which information technology is used to support the facilities management function. It covers such issues as:
- how to leverage computer-aided FM technologies for maximum return;
- merging existing technologies to add value to FM;
- use of Internet, intranet, and other Web technologies to gain accessibility and communication advantages;
- addressing technology migration issues; and
- continually improving FM systems and the use of those systems.

Fifteen organizations participated in the study by attending a planning session, completing data-gathering surveys, and attending or hosting on-site interviews. Five of the organizations sponsored the study (“sponsor organizations”). One sponsor completed two data collection tools from different divisions within the organization. The remaining 10 organizations were identified as having a strong or innovative facilities management
information technology programs in place and invited to participate in the study as benchmarking partners (“partner organizations”).

REPORT STRUCTURE AND KEY FINDINGS

This report has been organized into six macro topics:
1. Strategy
2. Financial Perspective
3. Internal Processes
4. Customer Service
5. Innovation and Learning
6. Additional Insights

Within these six macro topics, 10 key findings emerged:
1. Information technology in facilities management must be a part of the organizational culture to make an impact on the organization’s strategic plan and positively affect the bottom line.

2. Building relationships and maximizing the use of technology are the most critical issues for addressing facilities management’s information technology strategy.

3. Recognizing the value-added contribution facilities management information
technology (FMIT) makes, organizations allocate adequate funding to meet
FMIT’s needs and strategic objectives. This is reflected in the stability—and drastic increase—in funding for FMIT over the last three years.

4. Customer needs and expectations drive continuous improvement of facilities
management information technology systems.

5. Leading-edge technologies increase the efficiency of facilities management’s IT systems.

6. Successful FM organizations readily agree that integration/linkage is the future for FMIT.

7. User-friendly, integrated access to key information is necessary for facilities management to be viewed as a partner to the organization.

8. Understanding customers’ needs for FM information and following through by providing usable information results in satisfied customers.

9. In today’s knowledge management environment and with the latest advances in technology, companies cannot ignore customers’ expectation of access to key FM data.

10. Through strong, proactive communication and an in-depth understanding of
current business practices and the organization’s environment, facilities management is successful in determining the needs of its stakeholders and future FMIT systems needs.

FINDINGS OVERVIEW

Much transformation has occurred within facilities management information
technology systems over the last three years. The increasing demand for cycle-time reduction, accurate information in real-time mode, and cost reduction, as well as the need to meet or exceed customer expectations, forces companies to recognize the valueadded contribution FMIT makes to the organization. This has prompted management to invest in technology and integrate systems to give the maximum benefit to the entire organization. Organizations realize that customer involvement in the process drives continuous improvement—without it they will not succeed. Facilities management managers proactively work to build relationships and bring stakeholders together. This is also done with other divisions within the organization.

FM managers realize that if corporate IT understands what is taking place in FM, corporate is more likely to support the process and approve the budgeting needed for growth. FMIT managers also work in union with corporate IT to provide continuity in software applications and hardware.
While the benefits of using technology in the FM organization are evident, facility managers ponder such issues as:
- “How can I keep up with new options and changes?
- “How can I determine the right amount of technology for the organization?”
- “How are others using new technologies within FM and are their investments
paying off?”

METHODOLOGY

The APQC consortium benchmarking methodology was developed in 1993 and
serves as one of the premier methods for successful benchmarking in the world. It was recognized by the European Center for Total Quality Management in 1995 as first in a list of 10 leading benchmarking organizations’ models. It is a powerful tool for identifying best and innovative practices and for facilitating the transfer of these practices. The data collection tools used to gather information are:
- Detailed Questionnaire: quantitative questions designed to collect objective and quantitative data, and
- Site Visit Discussion Guide: qualitative questions designed to collect qualitative information about targeted aspects of the facilities management process from best-practice partners.

Three of the 10 partner organizations hosted half-day site visits, allowing sponsors to meet with key personnel and share their facilities management strategies and practices. A phone conference was conducted with another partner. A group of consortium members attended each site visit and phone conference in order to participate in the discussion and to experience different programs firsthand. Both the partner and sponsor organizations responded to the Detailed Questionnaire. The Site Visit Discussion Guide was completed by partner organizations that hosted site visits. Secondary research conducted by APQC was used to help select innovative companies to participate as bestpractice partners. In addition to this research, consortium members, the staff, and the subject matter expert identified potential participants based on their own firsthand experiences and research.

ORGANIZATION AND INDUSTRY REPRESENTATION

Of the 15 organizations participating in the Improving Facilities Management Through Information Technology consortium benchmarking study, one is
Canadian, one is from Nova Scotia, one is Australian, and the remaining consortium participants are based in the United States. Participating organizations represent many industries: financial, manufacturing, government, chemicals/petroleum, healthcare, pharmaceutical, computers, electronics,
agricultural products, and education.
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- Sponsor and Partner Organizations

A complete listing of the sponsor organizations in this study, as well as the best-practice (“partner”) organizations that were benchmarked for their innovation and advancement in the use of information technology in facilities management.

- Executive Summary

A bird’s-eye view of the study, presenting the key findings discovered and the methodology used throughout the course of the study. The findings are explored in detail in following sections.

- Key Findings

An in-depth look at the 10 key findings of this study. The findings are supported by quantitative data and qualitative examples of practices employed by the partner companies.

- Partner Organization Profiles

Background information on the partner organizations, as well as their innovative facilities management processes.

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