Higher Education

Make College Facilities Management Easier with the Right Technology

College facilities are important in the growth and development of any college or university. Facilities need to be monitored for their maintenance through various management actions like requesting an inspection or arranging repairs. All these require software that makes the process easy and smooth. They also help in tracking budgets and improve the school’s image. 

Good software tools/solutions can help in managing the maintenance and management of various campus facilities like:

  • Maintenance of the buildings, utilities, and other resources
  • Handling requests for IT technical support
  • Facilitating student services like clearance process
  • Providing safety and security management, such as alarms and surveillance systems
  • Acquiring inventory control
  • Providing support to financial management for budget allocation and cost control

Nowadays, most educational schools use technology for providing automated solutions. This allows the school authorities to cut down costs and increase the efficiency of college facility management with minimal hassle. A good software tool helps in coordinating all these activities. It also allows the school administrator to manage numerous facilities spread across multiple campuses easily.

Schools are exploring innovative ways to reduce expenses while improving service levels at the same time. In fact, many schools are now beginning to employ cloud-computing concepts that enable them to reuse existing hardware more efficiently wherever possible. Many education institutions have even begun the process of converting the entire IT infrastructure into an on-demand utility model.

Required Features of the Ideal College Facilities Management App

Colleges and universities have laboratories, libraries, sports facilities, dormitories and other such departmental buildings which need to be managed for smooth functioning. College facilities include all fixed equipment installed in a building for instructional or research purposes. Also included are fixed equipment purchased to provide heating, cooling, lighting, fire safety and security systems, computer hardware as well as moveable equipment purchased to support activities within instruction or research laboratories. Other facilities include parking lots, bus stops, ATM kiosks and provision for health care centers.

Many of the leading software companies offer comprehensive university service management solutions. The basic requirements for college-level facilities management are:

Facilities Requirement Planning (FRP)

This is a comprehensive requirement planning tool that helps a school administrator easily track, plan and budget all new construction projects as well as renovation work at various campuses. An effective FRP solution allows schools to maintain an inventory of existing assets/facilities and also capture the cost associated with each asset so that it is possible to generate accurate cost estimates for future projects. By providing a powerful facility impact analysis feature, schools can identify areas where multiple facilities overlap each other in order to optimize the utilization of resources accordingly. The tool should be capable of handling both upfront capital expenditure as well as periodic operational expenses. Modern facility management software solutions should be flexible enough to capture and report on the impact of any changes made in the school’s master plan for future projects and provide insight into potential optimization opportunities.

Effective Communication

Communication between various members of the management team becomes easier with the presence of software that allows all relevant personnel to access information simultaneously. Effective business communication relies on the customer relationship model between the various task owners and managers, where the task assignor/manager should ensure proper customer satisfaction by the assignee.

College Facilities Management Project Scheduling Software

Project management is essential for managing individual facility projects in the college or university campus. All project related tasks are tracked using project scheduling software including time charts showing task timings at each stage of completion. After the planning phase, the execution is done simultaneously while monitoring progress and updating the project plan accordingly.

Better Layout Management

When you are faced with limited resources, it is hard to come up with a layout that makes optimal use of available space while still providing enough breathing room for students and staff members. Technology coupled with advanced planning tools helps managers custom-design layouts based on the needs of the college or university.

Energy Savings and Optimization

With technology helping facilities managers monitor the performance of buildings, they can reduce energy consumption by implementing better insulation and HVAC systems.

Security Management

With software capable of integrating the security features of the buildings with each other, facilities managers can vastly improve campus-wide security.

College Facilities Management Work Order Software

A work order system is essential for effective maintenance management of campus facilities across various departments including security, water supply or central heating systems in colleges or universities. Automated work order system in campus facilities management software enables students, maintenance staff, faculty members and other employees to initiate requests for repair services. It also provides necessary information to the responsible department’s employees who are assigned the task of solving the problem immediately. The increase in productivity and efficiency that results from this is remarkable.

In addition, it should allow schools to easily monitor daily building operations via a real-time dashboard interface offering a quick summary layout of key metrics such as temperature, humidity levels, etc., along with alerts when certain parameters are breached.

It must be capable of integrating with other auxiliary management tools such as payroll systems, invoice management and student information systems. This is essential because a number of services needed for facilities management depend on info from other systems, so being able to communicate with them is a must.

Facilities Management Gone Wrong – Software Use Scenario

Suppose a college’s Facilities department carries out a deep clean in the summer when students are not present. The priority for this action is set at 7 stars out of 10, and a message reminding users to complete it should pop up two weeks before the start date. 

However, this has not been done because nobody was assigned the task. A work order notification should be sent to Facilities Management to assign somebody or call for an emergency meeting, but that too hasn’t happened since no one was notified by email (which depends on someone updating an Outlook calendar). An alert about this lack of action should be displayed prominently on the dashboard, but that hasn’t happened either because the alert was set to pop up only once per week. The alert was set to pop up only once per week because nobody wanted to drown in alerts, but that’s exactly what happened. 

Eventually, frustrated with the lack of response, an email is sent to senior management explaining the current situation and tagging them in all previous emails. A few hours later, the assistant manager is called into a meeting about this situation because somebody tagged her in an email. The next day, she assigns somebody to take care of it, which solves the problem.

This real-life example hopefully illustrates some of the issues with college facility management systems. If there are not enough people available or if they fail to properly report their actions taken (or not), even simple tasks can become difficult and frustrating for everyone involved. There is a huge need for effective college facility management software that simplifies the task of recording and reporting actions, manages workflow efficiently, and eases collaboration between people within the system.

Without an efficient college facilities management software solution in place, the administrative department has a tough time carrying out its duties. Delegating tasks is not always easy and some tasks are bound to fall through the cracks if there is no way for reminders to be sent out automatically without any manual intervention. College facilities are becoming increasingly complex with increased college population and new buildings being opened every year. Managing this space requires modern FMS software which can automate repetitive tasks, have specific workflows designed for colleges, generate workforce real-time reports & analysis etc., so that all necessary actions can be taken without tedious manual

College Facility Management System Choices

College Facilities Management Software (CFMS) is a term that includes all aspects of campus facility management – from security to HVAC systems; from custodial services to parking decks; from electronic access controls to energy consumption; and everything else in between. Given this scope, CFMS encompasses many different types of technology components. It’s up to you how you want to build these systems together into an effective enterprise solution primarily driven at improving efficiency and productivity and optimize budgeting and costs.

In the United States, while there is a wide array of college facilities, the top educational institutions choose to use the following college facility management software:

FM:Systems

FM:Systems offers a university facilities management system software that is primarily focused on providing accurate asset data that will drive indirect cost recovery rates. The focus here is optimizing the efficient use of university assets.

Maintenance Connection

Maintenance Connection facilities management software is targeted at helping with setting up of preventive maintenance procedures and managing maintenance schedules for the various college and university assets in classrooms, administrative offices, dormitories, libraries, labs, dining rooms, school clinics, theaters, athletic fields, athletic facilities, amphitheaters and parking lots.

Hippo

Hippo’s maintenance software for educational institutions  helps in planning maintenance activities and efficiently delegating tasks, keeping track of general organization of campus assets.

NetFacilities

NetFacilities is a CMMS that focuses more on easing the burden on maintenance departments who have to manage a large number of work orders and work requests daily over a large number of assets ranging from air conditioners, to HVAC systems, boilers and computers. The primary features include work order management, asset management, preventive maintenance, inventory management and vendor management. 

Fiix

Fiix by Rockwell Automation focuses on work order management, managing procurement and tracking use of parts and supplies, dashboard-style reporting and analytics of collated maintenance data, mobile-friendliness and integrations with existing university maintenance systems and AI.

Summary

In conclusion, there are many platforms that can be used to manage facilities such as software and equipment. The five most important features in a college facilities management system include work order management, procurement, inventory management, asset management and reporting. We have provided a few examples of such software available in the market today. We know the decision on which facilities management software you use will depend on your peculiar circumstances and needs.

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