Time Management, a Case for Facility Management Software:
Yes, Software Helps to be Organized OR No, Software is a Complete Waste of Money.
Which team do you subscribe to?
A privileged example:
Chapter 1 – The Scene
It’s been a good week, most of our buildings are ticking along nicely, typical dramas, but nothing out of the ordinary. Inspired by the smooth operations, we pay a visit to one of the managers in a residential complex with a commercial ground floor and first floor. There is a bout 160 residential apartment units, and about 17 commercial tenants of varying sizes, including a supermarket. The building manager called yesterday as he has concerns about a sub-contractor’s works and is looking for a second opinion.
Chapter 2 – The Office
We review the works of the sub-contractor on site with the building manager and decide there is a warranty issue on behalf of the sub-contractor. The building manager will call them in the morning, but before the call, let’s check the paper work and read exactly what the sub-contractor’s proposal set out and what their exclusions outlined.
We walk back to the building manager’s office to have a quick look at the documentation, the Building Manager is quiet for the duration of the walk.
We arrive at his office, the desk is covered with “post it” notes, paper notes, there are files on the floor, there are mechanical air conditioning components and paint cans on the office floor, shelves are part empty, and his laptop is nowhere to be seen.
“Where is your day book?” I asked
He began searching under the papers, notes and “bits and bobs” around the place. The rest we’ll leave to your imagination.
Chapter 3 – Meeting
We arrange to meet the building manager the next day at the local coffee shop where he is to bring the documentation and the laptop.
The greatest concern here is why the building manager’s office was this bad; apart from being unprofessional, it’s unhealthy. We open a conversation to discuss the daily activities of the building manager; essentially he is run off his feet, he is “super busy”. My thoughts are that the management shouldn’t be this dramatic for this size residential apartment strata/commercial building.
Chapter 4 – Disorganized
The end result of the discussion, apart from calling the sub-contractor back to honour their warranty obligations, is that the building manager has a time management problem, why, because he can’t say “no”, to anybody. The time management problem was derived from a priority issue or a misunderstanding of where the loyalties should be, consequently the Building Manager can’t say “no” and has become overwhelmed and disorganized.
Chapter 5 – Loyalties
Where should the building manager’s loyalties be, let’s create a list of possible stakeholders:
- The Company he works for
- The Strata Management Company
- The Executive Committee or Body Corporate
- The Owner Occupiers whom live in the building
- The Residential Tenants who live the building
- The Commercial Tenants whom work in the building
- The local community whom use some of the facilities, including the car park
- The Contractors and sub-contractors which come and go, including waste and janitorial
Chapter 6 – Prioritize
Prioritizing activities is often a point of contention; often a manager might be thinking about services, commitments, obligations or even financial consequences of a given event and what to prioritize within all these categories and parameters. Exhausting!
Systems, in our humble opinion, should always prioritize safety first, which begins directly with the Building Manager, because if he is not safe then we could have all sorts of issues. The community’s safety next, including tenants, owner occupiers, sub-contractors and the general public. Then risk management, which of course includes safety first, then risk to property, including damage, building performance and value. We can talk about sub-directories/categories and so forth under property risk for hours, but initially, we are aiming to create a steady and prioritized work flow for our building manager, whom is currently overwhelmed.
Different sites demand tailored priorities, including safety. What are the priorities for your building?
Chapter 7 – Noisy wheels
Have you heard the old saying, “the nosiest wheel receives the most oil” that is, in our translation, refers to the stakeholders whom communicate the most (with their various media platforms and with various levels of emotional attachment) will often receive the most attention. This is where we find our building manager “putting out fires” that are, at times, in the “not so urgent” category. To be blunt, the building manager knows this, he just want to please everybody and consequently is displeasing his own management and the owners corporation.
To rectify the problem, we need a little training.
Chapter 8 – Training the Manager……….and the Stakeholders
We can talk about time management skills, various training courses, time management consultants and advice, but the problem we have, on this particular site would probably still exist, because our building manager can’t say “no”, and they system in place for prioritizing work lives in the building manager’s head.
He is doing a great job in some respects, the building manager is helping tenants with relocations, sub-contractors with minor works, delivery men with large parcels and giving a top priority to any complaint or issues from any of the occupants or commercial tenants. The result is a very busy building manager but there is nothing of substance actually being completed and helping sub-contractors is not in his scope of works.
Consequently, we train our building manager when, why and how to say “no”, however, we still need to support our community with effective management and coordination of the manager’s services.
How do we do this “Effective Management” and keep our manager in control.
We look at a system.
Chapter 9 – Simple Priority and job number system
- Priority 1: Go to the Site immediately
- Priority 2: Go to the Site within an Hour
- Priority 3: Go to the Site before C.O.B that day.
- Priority 4: Go to the Site before the end of C.O.B the next business day.
- Priority 5: Go to the Site before the end of the week
Chapter 10 – Systematize
The building manager receives a call and consequently raises a job in a system. Each job, for which he has been asked to assist, is given a priority, and a log number. Hence, if high priority jobs are complete, he can do low priority jobs such as holding a ladder for a sub-contractor or moving a couch and so forth. All very good in an ideal world but it never seems to work quite that straight forward.
Chapter 11 – Software
To create a job number and give that job a description and priority, then we will need to track the jobs. This can go into a specific software package or a spread sheet. Software is better.
The building manager can tell the caller their job priority, give the caller the job number for reference. This will give the power to the building manager to say “no”, at least for now. The stakeholder knows and understands that there are jobs in front of theirs, but, their issue(s) have been recorded and will be attended to in turn subject to that jobs urgency. This is also training the stakeholders that a system is in place, which includes accountability.
To include an “app” for mobile phones in the software and to enable job tracking in the “cloud” by the stakeholder also illuminates the stakeholder calling every few hours asking about the progress of their job. Other issues such as product obsolescence, delivery delays, and other parameters can also be noted in the software for all parties to see.
We could argue the building manager’s time is now being “whittled” away with data entry and software management. Although, in the beginning, I think there is valid argument in this scenario, but over the passage of time, the building manager, and the stakeholders will learn and know the software with less time being required to manage it.
Chapter 12 – Facility Management Software
There is more to this than the simple steps we have outlined, different software packages offer different advantages which are tailored to suit the given circumstances and applications. Software often comes with an “app” which means remote communications via the mobile phone network between trades, management, and occupants is easier and more concise.
Chapter 13 – The Outcome:
The building manager is regaining control of the situation, the community and the manager are logging more information, stakeholders are communicating more effectively with other stakeholders, we are adding value to the performance of the building and, most importantly, the building manager is no longer overwhelmed.
Thank you Technology!
Thank you for your time
What are your thoughts?