Maximize use of data by making the right decisions
Data collection in the facilities maintenance management arena is not new. FMs have long used service cost data to identify equipment for replacement and response time data to evaluate maintenance and service contractors.
Today, however, the amount and detail level of information that can be gathered has grown exponentially – giving FMs access to data that supports critical, strategic decisions that benefit the entire retail organization.
Data management is more than simply collecting data from all sources, explained Sid Shetty, VP of Global Services at ServiceChannel. “You must have the ability to convert data into insights and find correlations within all the valuable data collected from multiple sources. This can help facilities management teams better understand their operations and make informed decisions,” he said.
While most retailers have systems that gather information, the trend is to partner with a solutions provider who offers a platform that not only connects the retailer with service providers and suppliers, but also integrates with the disparate systems used by the retailer, pointed out Shetty. “Such a platform allows everyone to access the system and to provide updates in real time,” he said. “This real-time data, if complemented with business intelligence, drives transparency, provides greater insight and allows managers to be more proactive in their management of facilities.”
It is also possible to collect and manage data in-house, said Shetty. “It depends on the company and on the business intelligence platform used. There are many solutions in the market that can provide the analytics a retail FM wants.” The decision to partner with a third party or to handle data management in-house is really driven by the retailer’s needs and resources, he added.
Another issue that varies from retailer to retailer based on size, volume of data and specific needs, is the cost of data management. Whether the service is managed completely or partially in-house or completely managed by a third party, it is important to quantify the benefits of a data management program, said Shetty.
FMs can increase their proven return on investment in data management, and garner support for the financial and staff resource investment, by:
1. Using data to drive all decisions
“The key to successful data management ROI is to use data all of the time in the decision-making process,” suggested Shetty. Establishing a culture that relies on data to provide a true picture of operations leads to insights that improve performance and the bottom line as service contracts are negotiated, equipment is scheduled for replacement and as preventive maintenance programs are designed.
2. Positioning data management as a key factor to improve the “customer experience”
Don’t forget that facilities management plays a key role in the customer experience, said Shetty. Ensuring that facilities are well-maintained, comfortable, safe and welcoming to customers leads to more sales and greater customer loyalty. Presenting an FM data management system as integral to the overall goals of the retailer is an effective strategy to gain support, said Shetty.
3. Sharing data with other divisions
Data collected in facilities management can be valuable for other divisions as well, points out Shetty. Because the FM department sees firsthand how well a store’s design, fixtures and building materials hold up over time, information that identifies recurring maintenance issues related to design or materials can help the real estate, construction or operations divisions adjust their plans for renovated or new locations. Not only does this help an FM better plan for that facility, but it reduces maintenance and service expense over time.
“The retail FM industry is hungry for data, but not everyone maximizes its use,” said Shetty. “The use of data is evolving, which is positive and exciting. In the future, I expect the use of data in the decision-making process and the drive for increased transparency in FM business operations to continue growing.” λ
By: Sheryl S. Jackson
Sheryl Jackson is a writer based in Atlanta.