What is Facility Management Without the Right Software?
By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
What is facility management in today’s modern, digitized workplace? Great question. It wasn’t that long ago polylined floor plans and manually submitted maintenance tickets were the norm. Facilities management now requires integrated software ecosystems.
Hardware, software, and the physical workplace
For many workplaces, connected technologies are must-haves. Hardware is the cornerstone of next-generation facility management for collecting and storing data. Occupancy sensors and beacons shed light on space utilization. Temperature sensors help manage building HVAC. Access control systems centralize building security.
If hardware is the cornerstone, then software makes up the rest of the foundation. Software’s primary function is to turn electrical signals, activations, strings of code, and communications into readable, useable datasets. From there, it’s up to facility managers to use data—and analytics from it—to improve facility management.
Facilities management software tiers
Facilities management software varies depending on the application. You might have a basic program to automate ticketing requests. On a larger scale, you may rely on an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) to aggregate and display data from an array of networked devices.
Essential facilities management software, at the least, should centralize information for high-level insights. An individual room sensor shows usage for that space. Sensor systems provide deeper insights into overall workplace utilization. How deep you want to focus dictates data demands.
Software makes managing and improving facilities easier
The best facility management software enables a facility manager to do their job better. Check out a few examples of exactly what this means and the role software plays:
- Software feeds aggregated sensor data from 10 occupancy sensors into your IWMS (learn more on IWMS). Using that data, you determine utilization rates for each space and build models on repurposing under-utilized rooms.
- Hand-drawing floor plans is over. Facilities management software that lets you quickly create, tweak, and deploy floor plans is infinitely more efficient than polylining. Digital floor planning software provides features like drag-and-drop desking, dynamic scaling, and instant design comparisons.
- Data compiled in facilities management software calculates the cost per employee against the total cost of facilities leasing and upkeep. Information can be used to measure sales, budget, and manage cash flow.
The more data available, the more insights you have to drive improvements. It doesn’t matter if you manage 100 sensors spanning 20 unique data-collection applications—without the right software to deliver that data, there’s no clear path to improvement.
Integrated software is important, too
Beyond the programs and software ecosystems collecting and displaying data, integrated programs are also critical. Just like every facet of your workplace is connected, so are the many applications used in managing them.
Messaging apps like Slack, cloud systems like Dropbox, and task management apps like Basecamp rely on facilities management software to work right. Share a floor plan on Slack to get feedback from key stakeholders. Upload and indefinitely save that floor plan to Dropbox. Assign employees new seats by linking the floor plan to Basecamp. Each action is critical to facilities management and fully dependent on the technology behind it.
Facilities through a software lens
Facilities management has and always will be a discipline grounded in operational stability. It may seem like that mission is more difficult as workplaces become more digital, but it’s actually getting easier.
Software does what humans can’t: find intricate patterns, process huge datasets, and organize complex information in seconds. Software simplifies the traditionally difficult parts of facilities management. It automates ways to better understand a facility’s inner-workings and how facilities managers can make the most of available workspace.
Keep reading: how to select the best facility management software for your organization.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash