Cutting Through the Data Smog
ADG is one of the groups in Duke’s Corporate Information Services department for the Duke
University Health System, which consists of three hospitals and other clinical facilities. “In the past, Duke used a variety of homegrown systems to track space information,” says Julia Trimmer, a Senior IT Analyst in ADG. But when the group was charged with creating an institutional space system, Trimmer found that space information was tracked in different places, for different purposes, and at different levels of detail throughout the University. The Medical Center Architect’s Office had been tracking space in Archibus for a number of years for planning, construction, and renovation projects. CAD drawings of Medical Center buildings were linked to their space database via Archibus.
In addition, the Plant Accounting department, which is responsible for tracking space and equipment assets, was using a flat-file database with the usual limitations. And just about
every large Medical School department had their own separate “shadow” system to track their own space usage.
The biggest win for us is that everyone is working with the same numbers. Before, when we had multiple systems, we had multiple sets of numbers, which could sometimes cause trouble.
A STAR is Born
The ADG team started by creating a Web application that interfaced with existing Archibus
tables in the system, then added some tables for Duke-specific data. This application is referred to as Space Tracking and Reporting system, or STAR. “STAR allows department administrators and space managers to edit their own space information,” says Trimmer. “It’s designed to let users split the rooms if necessary and tell us which organizations are using the room and for what purpose.” Because STAR tables share the Archibus database, data is completely integrated. After purchasing some additional Archibus licenses for the Plant Accounting users, all institutional data at Duke is now tracked in one database.
A Multipurpose Database
Today, Duke is using this integrated space data in a lot of ways. For example, the Plant Accounting office carefully tracks research space for indirect cost recovery purposes. Allocation of costs-which ensures that “charge-backs” accurately reflect Duke organizations’ use of services such as public safety and groundskeeping-has also become easier and more accurate. “The biggest win for us is that everyone is working with the same numbers,” says Trimmer. “Before, when we had multiple systems, we had multiple sets of numbers, which could sometimes cause trouble.”
Archibus data is used for other applications as well. The Health System uses the information for Medicare and Medicaid reporting, while the Duke Accounting division uses space data for forecasting, budgeting and year-end closing.
The institutional space database feeds building depreciation cost allocation, resource planning efforts, and countless surveys and analyses. The Medical Center’s CAD drawing s and associated data are used by maintenance, delivery, safety office, police, fire, environmental services, clinical engineering, telecommunications, key shop, visitor services and probably dozens of others.
Comparing research grants to the amount of research space departments occupy is an
emerging trend at Duke. “There’s a huge interest right now in accounting for the research space that’s being used,” says Trimmer. “We’ve created another web application that combines the space data with award and faculty data. This application shows decision-makers the dollars per square foot and other data that various entities are receiving through grants.” ADG is considering extending this functionality to other Duke organizations in the near future.
DUHS is also looking into the possibility of adding other Archibus applications to its system, such as the Building Operations Management application. “The facilities office in one of the Schools wants to add ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] information for classrooms-such as whether a specific room is wheelchair-accessible-with other maintenance information such as light bulbs, painting, and carpeting,” says Trimmer. Adding photograph files to the database to identify these classrooms is another logical extension of this plan, a plan that so far has provided DUHS with a convenient way to share space information across the campus, the Health System, and Duke facilities across North Carolina.
- Increased confidence in the space data
- Easier indirect cost recovery reporting
- Enhanced planning and budgeting capabilities
- Space Management