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Getting Organizational Buy-in for Smart Technology

These five steps can help guide facility managers on their path to running a smart building

By John Rimer, Facility Influencer  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: 3 Examples of a Smart BuildingPt. 2: This Page

The last handful of years have been peppered with buzz words, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive maintenance. The latest marketing term is artificial intelligence, AI.  

Let me be clear, I am not disparaging these industry trends or those that are trying to drive it forward. It is imperative that we continue to advance, leveraging technology so that we can operate smarter and more efficiently. I cannot emphasize this directive enough.  

These five steps can help guide facility managers on their path to operating a smart building. Implementing the needed technology will require buy-in from the highest positions in the organization.  

Step 1: Visioneering  

To reference the late, Toby Keith, “if you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else.”  

The key first step to evolving is to define a vision. If you do not establish a clear direction, you will never achieve your destination.  

To begin, take a step back and get above the weeds of the day-to-day firefighting. Set your eyes to the future. Research and evaluate long-term organizational objectives. Juxtapose these with industry trends and trajectories and determine how they could be employed in your strategic plan. Be careful not to limit your dreaming by your current infrastructure or politics; those obstacles will be tackled during the planning phase.  

Related Content: 4 Trends in Smart Buildings 

Do not create the vision in a vacuum. Solicit input from staff, stakeholders, and industry experts. Look outside your organization and sector to learn from others. Attend conferences and read journals. Once the vision is drafted, you need to socialize it and solicit feedback; this is the initial stage of selling. 

Step 2: Draft an Evolution Plan 

Now that the vision is finalized, (of course recognizing it is a living, breathing document that continues to evolve) it is time to create a plan that will act as a roadmap for achieving the vision of a smart building.  

Be deliberate in researching and incorporating new technology. Add more sensors and control points. Identify systems that integrate well. Fully leverage these new data sources and share information across platforms. Just as our various senses work collectively to discern and direct our actions; our sensors and control systems should do likewise.   

In drafting the plan, remember that Rome was not built in a day. Evolution is a long, multi-year plan that will require intentionality and perseverance. That said, milestones and interval wins should be included to monitor and celebrate progress. Build the plan, work the plan.  

Step 3: Make a Negative a Positive 

The plan should be coupled with your facility capital replacement plan. Options to advance and upgrade should be researched in advance and incorporated into both plans. Thus, allowing the opportunity to take advantage of system failures and breakdowns to employ the plan and incorporate the forecasted improvements, in lieu of the reactionary like-for-like replacement. 

Step 4: Promote a Culture of Change 

The socialized vision sets a direction for the organization. This allows management, stakeholders, and staff to understand the reason for change and pull in the same direction. 

You will need to be vigilant to identify obstacles to change and begin removing or offsetting these inhibitors from the onset. 

Incorporate team members early in the conversation. Solicit their input to establish a sense of ownership and buy-in to the vision. This shared insight will aid in setting free the fixed mindset of THWADI (That's How We've Always Done It.) 

Establish a culture of change through your leadership and example. Listen to the team. Welcome their suggestions and implement their ideas. Reward ingenuity and willingness to be solution providers. 

Understand your organization's processes to implementing change. Navigate the red tape by partnering with the approvers and process owners. Try to avoid going rogue and burning bridges that you may later need. 

Step 5: Sell the Value of Investing 

As you work the evolution plan, be mindful and deliberate to baseline data, so that you can quantify the impact and value of these investments. The calculations are wholly necessary to justify continued investment into the long-range plan. 

Actively promote the vision, team, and benefit the department delivers. Celebrate successes. Be a cheerleader. Seek and partner with stakeholders that can be advocates for the facility department and the evolution plan. 

Do not forget – we are always selling. We must be engaged, forward-thinking ambassadors that are building smart if we are ever to realize smart buildings. 

John Rimer is president and a senior consultant FM360, LLC. He is a mechanical engineer with more than 25 years of facility management experience. He has implemented and managed facility programs for numerous companies, including Intel, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, and Charles Schwab.  

Over the years he has worked in numerous sectors, including corporate campus, data centers, bio-tech/pharmaceutical, higher education, K-12, healthcare, manufacturing, municipalities, state, and federal government. He is one of Building Operating Management's Facility Influencers

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  posted on 3/19/2024   Article Use Policy

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