Transformation or digitizing in FM – Why does it matter?

Digitalizing our daily operations soon won’t be good enough to cut costs, innovate and keep up the pace with other players on the market. To make the management happy and the talents engaged we need to take one step further and think with a transformative mindset.  

The time is now

Collecting and inputting asset data is a big part of facilities management. Sweating in the 120-degree boiler room as you try to correctly write down the information on an asset tag isn’t fun. What if you could instead snap a picture of the tag and the information is automatically added to your asset database? Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology does just that. If you want to be using these tools in the next 5-10 years, you must begin your journey now, as Facility Executive points out.

Digitizing or transformation?

No matter how good our FM processes are if they are still paper-based, they won’t last long.  And as the FM sector is a highly competitive one, even digitalized spreadsheets and PDFs just won’t be enough to make work effective anymore. Digitizing simply means putting our existing paper processes into a digital format. Whereas transformation has added value to everyday work.

The difference between digitizing and truly transforming is like the difference between AutoCAD and BIM. With AutoCAD the drafting process becomes faster and easier, still, it simply digitizes the manual process without changing it, just mimicking what we do by hand on a screen.

On the other hand, transformation tries to better integrate processes and actually change the way we do things. BIM and 3-D modelling are good examples. With BIM, we don’t have to select four points on a screen to draw a wall in a floor plan. With just two clicks, it draws the thousands of lines needed to represent a wall. This is a transformational use of technology versus simply digitizing an existing process – as the building management solutions provider AkitaBox highlights.

All the transformational tech FMs do not use

From IoT sensors to AI, there’s so much transformational tech out there building owners and facility managers often struggle to take advantage of. Many are still stuck in the digitization phase, trying to organize mountains of information without meaningfully improving the day-to-day processes. They might have uploaded their PDFs to a file server, but often they’ve brought along the problems of paper data and manual processes into a digital world.

According to the experts moving into transformation brings benefits like…

  • Discovering weak points, duplication, overlap, and inefficiencies in workflows
  • Improving communication between teams
  • Automating manual, repetitive, or time-consuming tasks
  • Better organizing and more easily accessing data
  • Optimizing data for analysis and using the results to drive improvements
  • Integrating data silos into a single source of truth

The 4 steps toward transformation in FM

Step 1: Identify opportunities and create a plan

What goals do you want to hit? What technologies do you want to adopt? If it seems overwhelming, use the help of experts, technology partners.

Step 2: Move off of paper

Transferring your maps, checklists, and SOPs into digital formats is a huge step in the right direction — and lays the foundation for future transformation.

Step 3: Deliberately implement software

Don’t buy a new software solution every time you uncover a problem. Snapping up software turns into solutions that may or may not play well together. Go back to your plan in step 1 and identify tech firms that can help you meet your transformation goals. Then thoughtfully choose the best tools for the job.

Step 4: Map major assets

As you start to map things out, consider the compliance and maintenance processes associated with each asset. Is there overlap among your processes that you can consolidate? For example, while you’re doing preventive maintenance on a generator, could you also conduct its monthly shutdown test? Looking for overlap can help you identify areas to streamline and automate.


(Here you can download AkitaBox ebook to learn more on FM transformation – Facility Management Transformation: Unlocking Operational Excellence.)


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