Tackling change in any organization is challenging. It entails thoughtful planning and clear-cut implementation, as well as consultation with-and involvement of-the people that are affected by the changes. Many companies still depend on a home-grown, “tried and true” method of managing their facilities, convinced that it works, there’s no need to fix it. So, any change in procedures is often viewed with a skeptical eye.
In an organization that includes multiple facilities in several locations, putting a new facilities management system in place can be particularly challenging. However, the benefits gained in time and cost savings outweigh the challenges of adopting the new system. Find out how one organization is making that transition.
The Village Network is a multi-discipline trauma treatment and recovery behavioral health organization providing outpatient, residential treatment, and foster care services to children in 20 separate locations in Ohio. Some of the physical facilities, like the campuses in Wooster, Newark, and Bethesda, are owned by the company and consist of multiple residential cottages and administration buildings, while others are single offces or suites that are rented or leased. WITH ONLY A SMALL MAINTENANCE CREW SCATTERED THROUGHOUT ITS VARIOUS FACILITIES, FINDING THE RIGHT FM SOFTWARE PACKAGE WAS A CHALLENGE FOR THE VILLAGE NETWORK.
“It is very challenging keeping track of 20 locations,” said Mike Ballinger, Assistant Director of Support Services, “All of our facilities—whether they are sprawling across many acres or confined to a single ofce building—need maintenance from time to time. For years, we were entirely dependent on paper work orders, which were challenging to track. Our board encouraged us to investigate an electronic system for tracking inventory and maintenance tasks, which led us to FMX.”
The Village Network team looked at 10 FM software packages they felt might ft their specifc needs. The package they chose had to meet specific requirements: • User-friendly and easy to navigate • Cost-effective to accommodate a limited budget • Customizable to fit specific reporting needs • Good staff training resources • Systematic vehicle inspection notifications to ensure compliance with Ohio Department of Job and Family Services licensure requirements • Efficient way to assign drivers and vehicles to enable proper stafng • Planned maintenance schedules to meet state regulatory requisites, including those of fleet vehicles
“ The 10 packages were compared and analyzed, and finally narrowed down to three. “We did a comprehensive comparison of the top three contenders “ and found that, in the end, one system—FMX—met all of our requirements and was in line with what we could aford,” said Mary Schantz, The Village Network IT Director.
The biggest challenge—and one of the most critical decisions you must make when you implement any FM system—is to determine what data you should import into the software. To do this effectively, you need the cooperation of your staff in completing the inventory, especially if you are a large organization and/or have multiple sites. You also need a consistent reporting method so that everyone is on the same page with the data they provide. You can avoid numerous headaches if you do this right from the outset. The Village Network team cites several tips to help you get started:
Look at the floor plans for each building and assign a building code • Create a labeling system to identify sites/rooms/equipment • Supply the data collectors with a template that lays out the asset types you want, and give them examples of what data to collect • Encourage the staf to update the data as necessary (input new equipment, remove old unused equipment, etc.) • Conduct an annual review of all data to make sure it remains up-to-date and accurate
According to Schantz, “If you do not put careful thought into what data you want to collect and how you want to collect it, you may find that it is worthless five years down the road. If we had Phase I to do over again, we might consider identifying one person within the organization—or hiring someone on a contractual basis— to go to each of our locations and do a very thorough job of collecting the inventory data. That way, we would know that it was consistent across all facilities. That might be a solution that other organizations can consider to ensure quality data.”
There may be staff resistance to abandoning the old way of doing things and embracing a new FM system. Here are a few tips to pave the way: • Get buy-in from key stakeholders • Demonstrate how the new system will save time and make their jobs easier • Conduct a hands on, ‘how-to’ session • Have access to an online Learning Center provided by the software vendor to serve as a quick reference
“Our maintenance team will be using the system on a regular basis,” Ballinger said. “Perhaps the greatest challenge will be to train them to provide details about the work that was completed, rather than just marking a work order ‘done.’ This expanded data will be invaluable going forward.”