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Speaking IT's Language
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Collaborating with ITPt. 2: This Page
It takes time to coordinate and work with others, especially when they are outside of the facility management department. One common mistake managers make in partnering with IT is getting impatient for action and electing to go forward with the project alone.
Imagine that new CMMS is ready to bring online, but for whatever reason, coordination with others is not happening quickly enough. If you just purchased the software in a hosted-solution agreement, with a bit of vendor support, it could be up and running in no time.
But wait. Did you consider establishing a firewall? Did you consider using a separate network to prevent hacking and data breaches?
Impatience in trying to achieve short-term success can lead to long-term problems, creating vulnerabilities that managers might not understand or think about. This short-term thinking creates risks for the organization.
Speaking IT’s language
A friend of mine who is quite a technology guru operating in the facility management world once told me, “We don’t speak IT.” Facility managers assume IT understands that systems and components in a building are connected, the ways they are connected, and the way the building operates. More often than not, that is not the case.
Conversely, managers do not always realize or appreciate the work it takes to change something as complex as an enterprise-wide system. My friend is right. So how do we improve?
One proven strategy for success is to involve IT in conversations. In facilities projects, managers should invite IT to the table as a way to obtain insight and expertise they might not otherwise have.
Managers also should help IT understand the way systems and components are interconnected. An even more progressive idea is to hire IT expertise directly into the facility management department, teaching them systems maintenance and care while simultaneously taking advantage of their technological know-how.
Courses in facility management strategy put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of alignment with the organizational mission, along with the value of having the right team on board. The goal is to have well-operated and -maintained facilities that support the organization in achieving its mission.
Never before has it been more important for managers to recognize the interconnectedness of buildings and technology, as well as the importance of the relationship with IT. Understanding ways to work more effectively with IT, albeit by learning from the mistakes managers make, will help both parties achieve the goal of having well-run facilities in an increasingly complex, interconnected world.
Laurie Gilmer is vice president of facility services with Facility Engineering Associates (FEA). She leads FEA’s group in its execution of facility asset management, building energy management, and sustainability services. Gilmer co-authored the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) second manual in the Sustainability “How-To-Guide” Series, EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager.
Speaking IT's Language