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Mission Possible: The Leap to Accurate, Timely Data

By Sean O'Brien

So, how do you do it? How do you leap from messy data in disparate systems into accurate, timely data in an integrated system with a unified database? It seems dangerous to think you can overcome such impossible odds.



"I knew he'd make it." Love that (And Ving Rhames in whatever he's in). But, leaping into or proposing a new way to assess facilities and manage data can seem perilous for a facilities or estates leader. Fortunately, it doesn't require the kind of risk-taking you just saw. But it does require a commitment to a long-term integrated approach. With that commitment, the Facilities or Estates Department becomes a more valued institutional contributor that enables planners on campus to make data-driven decisions in pursuit of strategic goals.

So, how do you do it? First, start with the plumbing. Your integrated system must provide you with a way to handle and standardize data so that you can seamlessly manage data both inside and outside of your system. An integrated system that matches the comprehensive vision you have for your institution must do this. The vision for the AssetWorks IWMS flows through Asset Sync, which allows Asset Managers to maintain the integrity of all of their asset data. But what happens when that clean data gets sullied when a pipe bursts in the floor of your biology building?

Well, that sounds messy. Let's take a look at how one Facilities Department in North America assesses their facilities and manages their data so that when things happen, their data remains clean.

Meet Portland Community College

Portland Community College (PCC) is a community college in the Portland, Oregon Metro area comprising four campuses and eight centers spread over a large geographical area serving five counties. They have nearly 70 buildings containing 2.6 million square feet. They've been using the AssetWorks Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) for almost ten years now as their facilities and estates management platform for Work Management, Asset Management, Keys and Access Controls, Space Management, Finance and Capital Projects, Project Management, Environmental Health and Safety, Assessment and Needs Analysis, and Property and Locations.

PCC launched a Facilities Condition Assessment (FCA), spanning up to 12,000 asset records for buildings, equipment, and components. They hired a third-party vendor to conduct the assessment. If their vendor conducted the assessment the typical way by collecting the data over time and then supplying it to the Facilities Department to put it into their facilities and estates management system manually later, the data would be stale before it ever got used. Even worse, if they didn't have a standard on which to assemble the import data, they wouldn't be able to use it effectively. But what if they had a unified database with a standardized structure for collecting the data. And, what if that system that housed that database provided their vendor or anyone else a way to update condition assessment in real-time on a mobile device? What if the Facilities Department at PCC had the vision to require that their assessment vendor utilize their integrated system to complete the assessment on mobile devices connected to it? What results might that lead to for them?

They did require that their assessment vendor use the Go Asset Management mobile app from AssetWorks to collect the FCA data. In doing so, the vendor then recorded the assessment data directly in the unified database of their integrated system, the AssetWorks IWMS. Their assessment vendor was happy to do it. The vendor used iPad minis and iPhones for the FCA. As a result, the assessment data was immediately available to the PCC Facilities Management Services team in real-time. The data was, therefore, accessible to share with strategic planners and finance quickly and efficiently. How could that happen? Well, it wasn’t quite like what you saw earlier with Ving Rhames operating the winch. But sometimes, when we’re disillusioned with our data problems and have been doing things the same way for so long, it might feel as impossible to us.

Collaboration Across the Board

Collaboration between PCC, Assetworks, and the vendor was critical. PCC met with the vendor's staff to get them started gathering assessment data on the mobile devices. The Assetworks Project Manager for PCC played a huge role in the process as well. To begin, the vendor's staff attended training on the mobile app and on the iPads. As a result of the collaboration, the PCC Facilities Management Services Department completed the initial portion of the assessment project, which might typically take six months in six weeks! Critically, they continue to use the mobile application connected to their integrated system in their day-to-day work. So not only does their condition assessment data get delivered accurately in real-time, but so does the data they collect in the operational world every day.

Does This Sound Impossible?

The PCC Facilities Management Services Team uses a mobile productivity solution as part of an integrated system to manage their assets' entire lifecycle from mobile devices. Using the Go Asset Management mobile app for the FCA, they secured credible data for strategic planning and budgeting. Beyond that, they use the same mobile productivity solution in their operation to:

  • Easily update asset attribute and condition assessment data in the field
  • Improve field technician productivity by executing on work orders to verify, update, and insert asset data
  • Facilitate field inspections, for example, compliance for fire extinguishers, and fume hoods
  • Improve their ability to manage asset profile records by quickly adding notes or pictures to update existing records from the field

If Not Impossible

Maybe the Facilities or Estates Department becomes the headliner at the next president’s executive meeting when she asks for important economic data to help her and her executive team steer your institution during this time of uncertainty. Operating with the unknowns of the post-COVID-19 world, finance leaders are now triaging finances while accounting for the costs of COVID-19, forecasting enrollments with unprecedented variance, and helping their institution make data-driven decisions in an often irrational environment.

How does the Facilities or Estates Department work in concert with them to enable those data-driven decisions? They collect and deliver data that is accurate, complete, timely, and actionable. It’s not impossible.

To find out how, join us on December 1st for our Mission Possible Webinar: Unifying Data for Better Decision-Making through Integrated Assessment.

Tags: IWMS, Facility Management, FCA