Solving Plan Room Dysfunction: 5 Reasons to Manage Facilities Info in the Cloud

Todd Moore| November 18, 2017

New survey findings show that over 50% of facilities teams expect to store more of their building information in the cloud. But that’s not the end of the story.

Over the next 2 -5 years, how likely is it that your organization will store significantly more of its facilities information digitally in the cloud?

We can all agree that ensuring speedy access to current building information is a top reason for cloud storage – especially during an emergency. In fact, when info is in the cloud, it’s protected against two of the most common – and expensive – disasters that facilities managers face: fires and water-related catastrophes. That said, cloud-based information storage facilitates so much more: productivity improvements, cost reductions, and the protection of intellectual property.

Collaborate in the Field and at the Office

In a large school district, office complex, or medical campus, facility managers may have to send technicians across town to respond to a service request. If that technician gets another call while he’s in the field, he may have to head back to the office to search through the computer or file cabinets for a document. Cloud storage addresses this problem head-on by allowing that technician to access information on his phone or tablet.

This might seem like a minor win, but in facilities management, where efficiency is key, it’s a significant victory. Consider these stats from AIIM’s research:

  1. The average facility team spends 47 minutes per day, or 15.6 hours per month, searching for information (not including travel time).
  2. The average facility team works 50 hours of overtime per month, which costs their organizations $50,000 per year.

If you can leverage the cloud to reduce time spent searching by, say, 45 minutes, you get back nearly a third of overtime costs each month. Sort of like finding $1,200 in your pocket each month. And, if your employees regularly drive when responding to service requests, mobile document management magnifies time and cost savings even more.

Transfer Valuable Knowledge to the Cloud

The graying of the workforce is a common topic of discussion in many industries. But in facilities management, the threat is unique. Long-tenured facilities managers become experts of the buildings they manage. When those “experts” retire—with that information in their head—the organization loses a valuable asset.

The loss of that asset impacts three vital issues: daily productivity, emergency preparedness, and succession planning.

So when AIIM survey results showed that 29% of facilities team workers are aged 55 years or older, we took notice. Especially because it’s likely that a larger percentage of facilities managers, who are more senior level employees, are 55 years or older.

Facilities teams are addressing this issue by extracting and maintaining their information in the cloud. In the cloud, facility knowledge is not “owned” by the employee. Instead, it’s owned by the organization as intellectual property.

Mitigate Risk to the Organization

In addition to solving succession planning issues, storing information in the cloud eliminates a dangerous reliance on one or two employees. After all, everyone knows that emergencies happen at the worst possible times.

In one such case, a university that we work with had a pipe burst when the facility manager was on vacation. Without a complete, accurate as-built, the people on site didn’t know where the shut-off was, so it took several hours to turn off the water. It turned out that in the last building renovation the original shut-off had been moved, and that detail only existed in the facility manager’s head.

In the end, a problem that would have been small, had they been able to quickly access an accurate as-built, ended up costing nearly $500,000. The cloud is an invaluable tool for facilities teams because it’s an affordable way to quickly turn information into actionable knowledge.

Facilitate Informed Decision-Making

In another facilities management horror story, the actions of one of our customers ended up costing tens of thousands of dollars. A pipe was leaking and the store manager called the first plumber she could find to fix it. Little did she know, by calling a new plumber, she voided the original warranty.

Had she called the original plumbing contractor, his work would have been covered by warranty. Instead, the store had to cover the full cost of the repairs plus the damage.

AIIM’s research shows that this warranty management failure was not an isolated incident.

In fact, AIIM’s data shows that facilities teams spend, on average, $81,000 in annual repair costs on equipment that’s under warranty. Facilities teams can, and do, leverage the cloud to avoid these types of issues. Because it’s not just that the cloud makes information available, it’s that the cloud provides a sense of calm in an urgent situation.

Going back to our customer’s horror story, you could see how the manager was in an impossible situation.

On the one hand, she could have searched through file cabinets to find the warranty, but what if she wasn’t able to find it? Even worse, what if, once she found it, she realized that the warranty was no longer valid? The damage that could have accumulated in the meantime would have made the decision to call a new plumber the right move.

If the warranty information had been available in the cloud, the decision would have been clear. The manager could have calmly pulled up the information on her phone, tablet, or computer. She would have called the right plumber and saved tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s easy to see how the same sort of situation can occur with utility shut-offs, evacuation plans, as-builts, and any other vital document.

Information Management is Better in the Cloud

Of course, putting facility information in the cloud doesn’t mean all your problems are instantly solved. You’ll still need to implement information management best practices and get buy-in. But times have changed. Previously, these information management tasks were simply too time-consuming and costly for facilities teams to pursue.

By moving to the cloud (or cloud computing), the ROI on effective information management becomes much more attractive.

That’s why over half of facility professionals know, to stay competitive, they must move their information to the cloud. As the AIIM eBook said, moving facilities information to the cloud is becoming “less of a luxury and more of a necessity.”

To learn more about how the cloud is changing the way facilities, operations and engineering teams manage their information, download the eBook.

Or attend/watch one of the two webcasts:

APPA Standards & Codes Council Presents Education Facilities Insight: Fixing Your Gaps In Catastrophe Readiness

Using Industry Insights to Identify Gaps in Your Emergency Plans

Related:

How Prepared are you for the Next Emergency (White Paper)

Emergency & Life Safety Product Overview (Brochure)

5 Strategies to Safeguard Building Information due to Employee Changes (White Paper)