Does Your Plan Room Have A Missing Piece?

We have all seen images of the plan rooms depicted above. Heck, it might be as easy as a walk down a hall to see your own similar looking plan room. It has an organization that you and your team are comfortable with. It is a 5000-piece puzzle just waiting to be tackled. You know what each tag, color, and bin means to help piece the puzzle together.  There is a sense of nostalgia as you smell the aging, brittle paper, the bright blue painted with age to a steely gray, the white lines blurring a bit.  You remember back to when this was a fresh new set of blueprints delivered in a tightly bound roll as part of a remodel 20 years ago.  The brown, faded coffee rings tell the story of remodels past when these plans were referenced during an electrical upgrade project.   And yes, maybe there is a jumble of drawings pulled out hastily during a recent emergency and left stacked on the table.  But someday, you will have an intern or find the time yourself to put these valuable documents away.  These intricate puzzle pieces that together show the history of these buildings.

This plan room, while not modern or entirely organized to the outside eye, is familiar; safe almost.  In a job with a near daily unknown of what might happen, this room is a refuge of answers.  While it might take some digging to find what you need at times, this is what you know.  It seems less daunting of a task to keep this plan room as is then to try and ascertain how it could all be digitized and organized.  And, even if you go to an all-digital library of files, will the team even use it?  Will they just revert to perusing the stick drawings and rolls to find what they need?  Will the investment be worth it in the end?  What time and cost savings will be realized?

These are the common objections we hear when we work with Facilities teams.  And trust me, you should be concerned. Going to an all-digital library won’t fix the problem. In fact, I would recommend that you don’t scan your drawings. Don’t waste those funds to digitize if you also don’t have a plan for “how” those drawings will be accessed and organized. Think of the deferred maintenance or system replacements that could be accomplished instead. Maybe you could hire another technician to help get caught up on the work orders and finally shift towards more of a preventative focus. Or, you could go ahead and hire that admin assistant to help keep this room in order and develop a check-out system for the drawings.

And alas, the scanning project slips off to another future budget. Meanwhile, you have a flood that costs tens of thousands of dollars when security called in a leak, and precious hours were lost as your team tried to mobilize and find the shut-off valve.  You know exactly who could have solved that leaky pipe in seconds though, and the answer haunts you in the back of your mind like a cruel joke.  The problem is Joe retired last year and no way were you going to bug him as he enjoys his retirement on the golf course.  He offered to stay on as a paid “consultant” of course, he sensed the value in 25 years of knowledge on this campus, but you turned him down.  It’s like that one lost puzzle piece that stops you from finishing days of work.  Ugh, its days like this where the calendar needs to move faster so you can join him on that golf course.

But wait, lets rewind a bit.  Remember I said don’t digitize unless you know how those drawings will be accessed and organized.  Let’s look at the options. 

Well, from the last remodel, the GC gave you some flash drives and CDs.  Those have been handy to reference.  Plus, nobody can spill a Mountain Dew on the pages or “forget” them in their truck for weeks on end (will you ever forgive Carl for that one?).  You could scan all the paper and put it on CDs.  But where will the CDs reside?  The team still needs to go to a room, load up the CD, and click through a list of files to find what they need.  And what if in their haste they don’t realize there is a newer drawing.  And, its back to puzzle pieces to find the one that fits.  Nope – that won’t be better than paper.  The team would never use that, they would just revert to using the paper versions.

OK, so the problem is just the CD.  What if they were on the network?  Now, the team can access them from any computer or even their laptop, they could be anywhere on campus.  Better yet, you will put them in the cloud in a document management portal.  Yes, you have solved the access problem! With your current paper plan room, you need to wade through and pull-down various rolls to find what you are looking for.  It takes a bit of time (typically an hour a day per technician) but you find the right plan in the end.  And, if the files are now on the network, your team doesn’t lose travel time back and forth to the plan room – you have saved precision hours! 

But have you? How easy is it to find the right file?  They are still opening file after file and waiting for the document to load.  And that spinning wheel on the screen making your blood begin to boil as you wait for the file to render and load, only to see that it’s the wrong drawing.  Ugh, that doesn’t work either.  It’s about as easy as putting together a puzzle in which all the pieces are the same color. Paper still seems just as quick (not to mention easier on your frayed nerves).

But, what if there was something digital, able to be accessed anywhere, and organized in a way your team is comfortable with.  A digital document management solution that could actually be easier than paper.  And better yet, you don’t have to live in some sci-fi world where you say, “Beam me up Scotty” and you are taken to this magical repository.  A picture is worth a thousand words; so here. Check out this overview video to see what I mean.

Your entire campus, decades of paper and CDs held in the palm of your hand. You see the campus, you click on a building.  From the building you click on the floor.  And from there you see every single plan, represented as a different color and overlapping each other like a custom-made puzzle of your buildings in a digital blueprint.  All of the pieces interconnected with ease.  What used to take hours of searching can now be achieved in seconds.  And you can be at home, on a roof, in the basement, on a golf course in Florida and still pull up these drawings in seconds.  So no, don’t just digitize your drawings.  Finish the puzzle. Request a demo today. You’ll be glad you did.