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  • 21 January 2019 09:37

Better information access for Facility Managers

Jamie Atherton, Country Manager ANZ, Hyland Facilities management continues to grow in complexity, with a host of new technologies making life in general more efficient, secure and productive. However, for a facility manager these advancements can also lead to new issues, with more systems and solutions feeding information into an ever-expanding portfolio of services.

Getting the information required to do a good job becomes increasingly hard when information isn’t readily and easily available. Often, systems do not necessarily ‘play nicely’ with one another, and often there aren’t connections to link the information and data. A company may rely on a single core facility management system, and in many cases companies have developed their own proprietary systems. While these may serve the key needs of the company, they are often developed to perform specific tasks and do not interact well with peripheral systems, or as part of a technology stack.

Facility management is also an area that still adheres to the old-fashioned paper trail, to some extent, rather than embracing the digitisation trends as other industries have done. Traditionally, it has been a very paper-heavy industry with quotes, correspondence, files, documents, forms and images stored in paper files, on laptops and PCs. Removing that paper trail and placing all files and documents into one central digital repository both simplifies processes and offers much better functionality.

For a facility manager who needs to access a particular file – say it is time to look at renewing a lease, and negotiations have commenced – there may be several departments and a host of disparate information that needs to be accessed in order to tell the full story of that account. Files may be stored in the CRM system, others in the in-house FM system, access to documents and comments may require filtering through the company’s workflow processes solution. There may be as many as half-a-dozen systems involved in the retrieval of essential files.

Say an employee has managed an account for several years, storing all data for that account on a laptop. That information is therefore siloed, existing mainly on a personal device rather than being accessible to all stakeholders in the company. If that employee leaves the company, there is the very real risk of data being lost altogether.

A modern enterprise content management solution provides fast, safe and secure delivery of information to approved stakeholders throughout the company. Integrating the ECM solution with existing systems, and drawing from existing digital resources in place across the organisation, provides authorised users instant access to the information they need – whenever and wherever they need it – from within the systems they already use every day.

Rather than spending time searching for maintenance or utilities information across multiple systems, account managers get a full, 360-degree view of all necessary records for a building or facility, which improves decision-making, reduces the risk for error and improves the speed at which a facility manager can provide accurate information to stakeholders.

An advanced ECM platform does not require staff to learn a new system, as it interacts with all existing core software applications. Information is indexed and searchable across multiple platforms, drawn into the ECM system to provide a complete view of an account. All required information is presented in an easily-digestible format, no matter the data involved – images, mobile notes, documents, scanned documents and payment records.

Mobility is a major factor in today’s workplace, with facility managers required to have full communications wherever they happen to be – on site, in the office, in transit. This also plays into the developing recognition that a healthy work-life balance requires workforce flexibility, with staff working from home, leaving the office early to take children to sports and extra-curricular activities, and often simply avoiding the tedium of peak-hour traffic. With a solution that allows full, secure access to cloud-based files, from any approved device on the company network, facility managers have full business functionality from wherever they happen to be, with fast access to account information and a complete view of the case history for any particular account they happen to be working on.

Sharing of information and managing workflows is another important factor for account managers, especially on bigger accounts where multiple stakeholders need to interact and share documents across multiple departments. Again, an advanced ECM system allows for better interaction between individuals and departments, empowering staff to share, comment, schedule and generally manage their workflows more efficiently.

Of course, before approved staff may access digital records, those records must first be digitised – which is often viewed as a stumbling block for implementing a digitised information management system. Scanning documents is time-consuming and indexing them even more so. However, an advanced ECM solution is able to use predetermined keywords to automate batch scanning and indexing to correctly identify files with minimal human intervention. The ECM also rapidly stores and files e-forms, indexing them appropriately to support batching and workflow processes, again eliminating the time, effort and risk of errors associated with manual tasks.

From its creation to storage and on through its safe disposal, a cutting-edge ECM solution manages the entire lifecycle of information in a modern facility. By automating certain processes, the application frees up more time for higher-value activities and, with business process and case management capabilities, improves workflow and efficiency while also increasing communication streams between users.

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