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- Senior Director of Facilities »
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- DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE FACILITIES »
- Construction engineer, U.S. Dept. of State »
Calling in the Experts
Initiatives like systemwide adoption of sustainability don't succeed without leadership. But they also don't succeed without the right team in place. One of the ways the State of Oklahoma's office of facilities management was able to achieve its many gains was through a fundamental restructuring of the organization and specializing job descriptions. In addition to the office of facilities management's energy group, units for finance and purchasing were established. Instead of having teams dedicated to a building, facilities management functions were centralized with in-house specialists being sent out to buildings as needed.
Hiring for and using existing in-house expertise not only provided significant efficiencies but also cost savings. For example, the building automation system is now serviced in-house by Cherry and a team he has trained. In the last three years, they have not had a single outside service call for building automation. This allows them to spend that money on infrastructure for the BAS to improve and expand the system.
The synergies extend beyond maintenance and operations. With contract officers who are more closely versed in facilities management, contracts are negotiated without costly scope overruns. For example, 20 chillers had previously been on full-service contracts because the people setting up the contracts hadn't understood the actual scope of need. Last year, the contract was rebid to cover just annual and recurring maintenance, with repair work on an on-call basis. Cherry says they've saved $100,000 in the first year and expect to save more in subsequent years.
At the other end of the spectrum, at PNC Financial Services Group, providing excellent facilities management required recognizing when a project was beyond in-house capabilities and creating a smart partnership with an outside vendor.
PNC has been growing steadily over the years, with acquisitions rolling in every other year. When the National City acquisition was finalized in 2008, John Zurinskas, vice president and group regional manager with PNC Realty Services, knew merging the two organizations' real estate portfolios was going to be a challenge. Zurinskas had many conversions under his belt, including a large one comprising 320 buildings. But the National City acquisition was far bigger: 1,640 branches nationwide, including 26,000 signs. PNC decided the conversion would take place in four waves, with around 400 sites per wave. Every two months, a new wave would kick off, with the whole process starting in August 2009 and wrapping up in June 2010. Pulling it off required coordinating thousands of people, from bank personnel to sign manufacturers (10 of them) to tradesmen like carpenters and painters.
Zurinskas had always worked with a sign consultant, but facing the enormity and complexity of the task pushed him to upgrade to a firm he considered a "Cadillac" in the field: Monigle Associates. "I didn't need that kind of horsepower to do the conversions we had been doing," Zurinskas says. "But when we came across National City's acquisition, I knew I had to bring in a larger firm to help coordinate this thing." They helped with creating a timeline and keeping Zurinskas' team accountable for meeting necessary deadlines. This allowed PNC to form the task groups and focus on the "internal horsepower" they needed for the job.
For example, with two big banks coming together, getting information down through the internal chain to avoid confusion was challenging. With any large acquisition, Zurinskas says, there are often concerns, rumors and miscommunication coming from outside the project team. To avoid this, frequent bulletin board progress updates were posted. Prior to the sign conversion beginning in each market, a notification was sent out describing the general sign conversion process, what to expect and how to address issues. Finally, individual site installation notifications were sent the week prior to actual scheduled work beginning at each site.
Not only did all these efforts allow for the mammoth conversion to go off as planned, but they actually managed a 16.5 percent savings compared to what the sign conversion process had previously cost, Zurinskas says. This was in part due to the economy tanking, making for sharper competition among the sign manufacturers. But the in-house capabilities of the sign consultant also allowed PNC to throw all kinds of "what ifs" at them. What if they changed from neon tubing to LEDs? The consultant was able to do the necessary research and analysis amid everything else going on in the conversion. Working with the consultant led to a cheaper-to-manufacture sign using LEDs. What's more, some signs were redesigned with less metal, and sign contracts were awarded in a manner that created advantageous pricing.