Let’s face it. Right or wrong, when we think about Apple, Coca-Cola, Walmart, or GM, facilities management doesn’t come to mind as the lynchpin of these companies’ successes. So when executives allocate budget, the facilities department often gets the raw end of the deal.
As a result, the average facilities team doesn’t get the benefit of working with modern information technology and productivity suffers. For example, our 2018 market research shows that the average facility team could be completing up to 30% more work orders with improved document search capabilities via mobile technology.
In this environment, looking to industry peers for guidance on how to procure and integrate technology isn’t all that helpful.
So in this article, we’ll zoom out beyond the trends of the facilities industry into the general business world to help facilities teams re-examine their thinking when it comes to buying building information management technology that helps leverage information more efficiently.
Drivers of Information Technology Inside and Outside FM
In a study by the non-profit association AIIM, the data showed that for 51% of the respondents, the main business driver for “improving content management” is to reduce the number of information silos. 45% also cited improved customer service and another 35% said improving back-office efficiency was a main business driver.
In Facilities Technology Trends & Buying Best Practices, when respondents were asked what the most important business benefits were for getting a tech purchase approved, the top three were:
Product improves productivity (82% of respondents)
Product improves customer service (66% of respondents)
Product reduces costs (55% of respondents)
It’s notable that despite the fact that the AIIM study respondents are primarily driven to improve technology in order to reduce information silos, facilities teams have no such desire. This may be a result of the AIIM study respondents having purchased too many or incompatible technology solutions, thus replicating and spreading information across separate repositories.
FM Takeaways: Avoid Information Silos and Prioritize Search
In most cases, FMs aren’t buying so much technology that their information is spread across multiple repositories. Rather, the information is often disorganized, inaccessible, outdated, and either stored among mountains of paper in a plan room or a digital folder structure. Of course, that’s no better than having several information silos, but it presents an opportunity for facilities teams to be proactive.
As facilities teams digitize and become more comfortable as buyers of technology, it’s vital to identify and purchase solutions that do not create information silos. That doesn’t necessarily mean only buying one product but it does mean formulating an information management strategy into which each product fits. When necessary, various solutions should be able to connect and “talk” to each other.
What we’ve found working with facility managers in education, healthcare, and government is that having easily searchable information can transform an organization. This anecdotal finding is backed up by the AIIM study’s data. What they found was that, for 53 percent of respondents, searchability is the largest information-related challenge in facility management.
The key takeaway here is that digitizing information itself is not really a solution. You may get rid of the eyesore of a disorganized plan room, but in this case, out of sight is not out of mind. As AIIM’s data shows you, people will still be spending hours of unproductive time searching through a disorganized digital repository.
Clearly, digitization is not enough, though it is a step in the right direction. Add searchability and you can take the digital transformation of your information to the next level. To find out how Rich Steiger, Facility Manager at Orange County Government, did just that, read his story.
Want to Learn More About Facilities Technology Buying Trends?
Who better to learn from than the experts?
While you might not be able to look to all your peers for guidance, you can learn from the select few facilities teams who are successfully purchasing technology. Among other things, we found that the strongest technology buyers in the facilities industry do 5 specific things.
We call them the 5 Critical Success Factors and you can read about each one and the data that backs them up in our 2018 industry research titled Facilities Technology Trends & Buying Best Practices.