Mobile: The power to transform facility management at your fingertips

Author: Maureen Doran, Director of Client Relations, AwareManager

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Dr. Michio Kaku, a well-known author and physicist, recently stated, “Today, your cell phone has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon.”

In fact today’s smart phones even have more power than the Cray liquid cooled supercomputers from the 70’s, and they can outperform IBM’s Deep Blue, the computer made famous for beating the world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. It boasted a performance figure of 11.38 GFLOPS and could evaluate 200 million positions on the chessboard each second. Today, some 17 years later, a Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone has the computing power to output 142 GFLOPS. It is impressive and truly mind blowing that most of us have this power right at our fingertips. The question is, how are you putting all this to work for your organization?

man-with-toolbox-100In today’s instant-results world, engineers at busy facilities find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the demands of tenants. The pressure to improve performance and response times can be daunting. This is where mobile can transform the way you work and help you meet and exceed tenant and guest expectations. Over the years, I have worked with a wide array of people in facilities, from hospitals to large-scale commercial property managers. I would like to share an experience from one of our clients that demonstrates the impact that mobile applications can have on your operations.

Mobile ApplicationThis company maintains over 100 properties with a constant stream of tenant requests. The manager of the engineering staff knew he needed a better way to handle these requests and to complete the work more efficiently. In the past, the engineering office was the hotspot throughout the day. Engineers came in and out to pick up new requests, which inevitably led to more distractions and lag times in responses. In the time it took for an engineer to walk back and forth from the office to the location of the work, many requests could have been halfway finished, he reasoned. In addition, the model of his portfolio structure was changing; he was acquiring more properties in satellite locations that made the once-centralized engineering office obsolete. Calls dispatched via radios were intrusive, and often, information being relayed over them could be miscommunicated or forgotten.

Engineers were also frustrated by the need to return to the office at the end of the day and spend time updating and closing out their work. If the office shared one computer, there would often be a queue of people waiting to access it.

Because he had set a goal to decrease average time to close by 30%, he knew that he would need a quicker way of getting work out to his engineering staff. He also knew that this would result in reduced response times and subsequently improved tenant satisfaction.

This manager turned to mobile as a key to reaching his objectives. He started by deploying a mobile application on his engineers’ smartphones enabling them to access several capabilities.

The application was configured so that any requests entered by a tenant triggered real-time notifications to key staff members as soon as they were made. Engineers servicing the building were notified with full details of the issue, including the location and contact information of the tenant. This was crucial for engineers, who often responded to a request only to find that the location communicated by a dispatcher was incorrect, or that they needed additional information from the tenant to complete the work. Receiving the direct request of the tenant on the mobile application allowed them to respond much faster – especially if they were already in the vicinity of the location. Tenant coordinators, the engineering supervisors, were also notified at the same time. This key step ensured that the coordinator could keep on top of the incoming requests. Should one engineer be unavailable, another could be dispatched in their place without any delay.

awaremanager-pic3-250Immediately upon finishing work for a request, the engineer could enter in any notes, status updates, and time, eliminating the need to sit at a computer trying to recall specific details for each job at the end of the day. More importantly, with the engineer being able to enter in the accurate real-time details of the job, a more precise reflection of response times was captured.

Since implementing this mobile capability the engineering manager beat his goal of a 30% decrease in the average days to close for his portfolio. What’s more important is that he has put an infrastructure into place that will positively impact tenant satisfaction for years to come – and this has been the real strategic win for his organization.