Benchmarking is a Fusion of Art and Science: Facility management is critical to successful operations of any organization

Benchmarking is a Fusion of Art and Science: Facility management is critical to successful operations of any organization

Facility management is much more than managing buildings and services, it is now critical to the successful operations of any organization. And, therefore employing correct Benchmarking tools for each activity is critical to standardize what and how we measure.

Benchmarking is global yet each country employs different units of measure. But an efficient benchmarking will essentially consist of a lot of quality data for which the system must specify consistent definitions of the data. Benchmarking is a continuous improvement process. Each year that one benchmark’s, the building performance improves further. The data that get input into a benchmarking system are very specifically defined. The reports that generated also are very specifically defined. However, there are many ways to interpret the reports. Often, it will make sense for the user to change some of the parameters that define the report (e.g., add or remove some of the filters, such as a climate filter) and then regenerate the report. With the ensuing different results from the newly generated report, the user may very well refine the conclusion drawn and the resultant action to take. Considerable skill is required to know how to modify the reports and then to interpret them.

The Benchmarking Tools

There are a variety of tools that can be considered for benchmarking. Some are more comprehensive than others; some address just one aspect of benchmarking or of facility operations; and some are in related fields such as construction. Many tools get refined frequently.

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The best benchmarking tool is only defined by each user and situation. The comprehensive benchmarking tools enable you to track and generate reports for most cost and consumption metrics, as well as those relating to personnel and space utilization. As a rule, they generate reports that enable you to compare your building to similar ones.

The Future of Benchmarking

The field of FM benchmarking is still in its infancy. Most facility professionals consider benchmarking as just comparing data, rather than seeing how best practices can be integrated into the benchmarking system.

Benchmarking also will become more of a tool to use during the course of each year, and not just at the end of it. This will happen primarily through the use of dashboards. Customized dashboards will be made possible for each area within facilities and for executives who oversee all the areas. Once meters on equipment start feeding data into the benchmarking system, the dashboards could be updated automatically daily. The end result will be much better management of buildings and reduction of operating costs.

Other potential sources of data for benchmarking systems include direct sensor input, such as occupancy sensors. These are an easy way to measure vacant space or what percentage of time space is occupied. There is no reason why these cannot interface with a benchmarking system.

There are many FM benchmarking tools available but the efficiency of the results depends on the data interpretation—the way that you convert data into information that can be applied to facility professionals’ decision-making processes. Benchmarking is both an art and a science, and is much more than parroting back numbers to an executive.

With the advent of more cloud-based applications, facility professionals can take many more measurements than ever before and then download these data into systems to be compiled with other data and lead to meaningful conclusions. All the benchmarking source data is accessible on the Internet which makes aggregation and processing much easier than having to deal with collecting data hosted by users in different places minimizing time and human error. Also read http://realtyplusmag.com/employability-is-the-biggest-challenge-in-india/

Social media also can come into play with benchmarking. Here comments made by building occupants could be input and geared toward a building’s customer satisfaction index, which then may be feasible to measure. Currently, the benchmarking data exist on the IWMS, CAFM & CMMS systems, HVAC equipment meters that read data from the equipment and corporate systems including human resources, financial, etc. Once electronic interfaces connect all the benchmarking systems, the Green rating or energy efficiency rating programs too can use utility consumption data and feed data back to see how the building compares to other green rated buildings.

The Benchmarking Goals

• Identify in which areas each building is over-performing or under-performing other similar buildings.

• Identify actions to be taken to improve building performance and justify them.

• Justify the budget and number of maintenance staf.

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