My career of selling services and software to the Facilities Maintenance field started back in 1998. I have talked to many amazing people in the industry over these past 22 years and have heard some fascinating stories. Stories of resiliency, stress, humor, and some downright bizarre.Have you ever had to get a moose out of a high school gym? Coordinated getting a mega-watt generator and batteries to the near top of the Empire State Building? I know someone who has. As I have listened to these stories it is amazing that even though much has changed; so much has stayed the same.
Evolution of Paper Documentation to Excel Spreadsheets to Vendor Portals
Let’s go back a couple decades; all the way back to Y2K. More often than not, local offices managed their own subcontractors and the majority of service visits concluded with a carbon copy paper document left behind. Service was mostly performed by the OEM and often, the contracted PM visits weren’t always being completed as there was no way to track them. One company in Wisconsin strived to change that status quo. JT Packard, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) sales and service company, focused on helping Facilities team with one thing – make their job easier. One vendor and one number to call regardless of the location, make or model of UPS. JT Packard was unique because they could service multiple brands of UPS systems with on-staff technicians; as well as including service contracts for generator and HVAC maintenance. The benefit to a Facilities team was clear – a single, national service provider for mission critical power saved them considerable time and money.
But, getting to the point of putting that proposal and contract together was painstaking. No one had a single resource they could accurately point to that included all of their UPS and Generator systems. And this was the case for some massive organizations – Verizon, Microsoft, Delta, HSBC, JD Edwards, United Healthcare just to name a few, all struggled with this.
Building a master list involved weeks of working with multiple Facility Directors across the country to gather existing service contracts or check recent Field Service Reports (FSR) to collect system data. Often, no one had copies of the FSR or if they did it was a piece of paper that they found and would fax over; the faded chicken scratch of data barely legible. So, as we gathered the info on the Powerware, MGE, and Liebert systems we were able to create for them their first ever database of UPS and battery systems.
Procurement teams loved the considerable savings with a single source contract and could phase out expensive OEM contracts. National Facilities Executives loved being able to look at the list of systems nationally and spot maintenance trends and budget for bulk battery purchases as they could see common SKUs across the enterprise. They received spreadsheets of planned PM visits and all FSRs were sent digitally with a consistent format and typed. Finally, both Facilities and IT knew that if there was an issue, they wouldn’t have vendor finger pointing. Having “one throat to squeeze” meant there was one vendor working with a singular purpose of resolving the issue. It made their job easier and it was one less thing to worry about.
As JT Packard’s model was beginning to be replicated by other vendors that served Facilities Maintenance market, it also marked the rise of Vendor Portals. Each subcontractor was building their own website to house their clients’ data. Now, the customer had to manage logins for various vendor websites to see dates of future PM visits and to download prior visit documentation. Yes, they had a database of system information and data points to review, but it was being managed outside of their own systems. These vendor portals while easy to manage for the vendor, put the onus on the client to self-serve to gather information. And, once you downloaded this documentation, where was a stored by the client? In multiple emails, local file drives or printed and put in a folder for future reference. The entire system collapses and goes back to a fragmented source of critical equipment documentation.
So, who owns Equipment Documentation when it is serviced by a Subcontractor?
In talking to many in Facilities, it seems as though the concept of an enterprise-wide “Single Source of Truth”database of information truly has faded. Yes, you have a CMMS software that is mostly accurate. But, does it doesn’t incorporate all of the equipment and documentation from subcontracted vendors.Where is the record of each UPS, battery plant, PDU, ATS, genset with its PM schedule and prior FSRs? How do you receive Field Service Reports today? A download from a vendor portal. An email received a week or two after the visit. A piece of paper left on-site. How does that make your job easier when you need to quickly calculate the runtime or determine what the current load is? It doesn’t.
At JT Packard, we thought we were revolutionary in 2002 with our organized Excel spreadsheets. But that is tedious to read, maintain, and share for everyone involved. It is why you need to find that Single Source of Truth for all the documentation surrounding your Facilities critical building systems. And that is where ARC Facilities is revolutionizing the idea of helping Facilities teams with one thing– making your job easier.
With ARC Facilities you have one facilities management app that manages all your critical building and equipment documentation. Not just a file repository. An intuitive, easy to navigate tool for instantly finding information across your entire enterprise. Imagine. You want to know the make and model UPS you have at the Schenectady plant and the most recent battery runtime calculation. With ARC Facilities, you would open the app on your phone. Click on the Schenectady campus. Open ARC Equipment and type “UPS”. It would show a list of UPSs and you could select the one you need. Attached is a map showing the exact location of that UPS. All of the prior FSRs, one-line drawing, and spec sheet. Also included is the schedule of future visits for PMs and a copy of the current Service Contract. All in one place. And this is the same for every single piece of your equipment whether serviced by an external vendor or your staff.
With ARC Facilities, you can have your subcontractors work within your system to make your job easier; not you forced into theirs and making THEIR job easier. You can safely and securely share this information with other departments that need to see this documentation. With ARC Facilities you have mobile access to critical documentation in seconds during any service emergency or issue. And, during a time when more organizations are looking for cost saving measures; it will allow you to once again drive competitive bids for service of systems across your entire infrastructure.
So, the good ol’ days might be gone. But, you can still have the tools that simplify your job and give you a Single Source of Truth.