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FACILITY PERSPECTIVES | VOLUME 11 NUMBER 4
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The cost of poor interoperability in facility
McGraw-Hill Construction released the ‘Interoperability
in the Construction Industry’ SmartMarket Report
in 2007, which showed project team members
attributed three per cent of project costs to software non-
interoperability. Some contributors to these costs included:
3 re-entering data from application to application
3 time spent using duplicate software
3 time lost to document version checking.
Over the life cycle of a single building, from design to
construction to operations, there’s a loss of information in each
major phase of the process, and the problem goes beyond
systems simply not working together. Poor interoperability
affects a number of other critical factors.
Looking specifically at individual stakeholder groups, it’s
actually the building owners and operators who are affected
the most by poor interoperability issues – the magnitude and
significance of the additional costs being greater for owners.
Imagine the difficulty with poor interoperability for an owner
who needs to deal with an entire portfolio of facilities. Some
additional factors impacting the efficiency, accuracy and
quality of information and processes during the life of the
facilities portfolio are:
3 locations – managing multiple locations, countries,
regions, campuses and so on
3 technologies – computer-aided drafting (CAD), building
information modelling (BIM), browsers, databases,
mobiles and more
3 file formats – multiple disparate file formats, paper,
photos, documents, PDFs, files and so on
3 data – consistency, quality, completeness, history,
applicability and age
3 accessibility – security and accessibility by individuals
3 workflows – internal and external processes, ensuring that
standards, guidelines and requirements are met.
The US National Institute of Standards and Testing calculated
the costs of poor interoperability, and broke them down to a
small number of key categories; these are listed in Figure 1.
I do believe the answer to these issues is using integrated
workplace management systems (IWMS) technology and a
BIM-based life-cycle approach to manage a facilities portfolio.
IWMS have powerful, integrated, web-based management
tools, providing enterprise-wide access to facilities
information processes, and improving the management of
space, occupancy, assets, moves, maintenance, leases
When we organise all of the types of data and workflow
processes in a web-based, high-availability solution, we can
manage the entire building portfolio effectively, and address
the interoperability issues from technology, data and business
processes as well.
The systems involved with managing whole portfolios of
buildings not only include the IWMS itself, but other important
corporate systems, such as human resources and financial
systems. This enables us to track the information about our
buildings, and manage employees utilising the facilities and
the costs associated with each building-related activity.
Imagine that all of the information about our buildings is
housed and maintained in a single, integrated solution. This
not only includes the data, but also the drawings, building
models, photos and documentation necessary to track and
maintain every aspect of a portfolio.
Last but not least, a system for managing workflows – such as
corrective maintenance requests, move requests and space
requests – all being controlled through a highly secure system to
manage requests, reviews and approvals of all processes, is
required to operate all of our facilities in a consistent manner.
Acknowledgements to NIST and Brian Haines
(FM:Systems), who both contributed to this article.
Author: Don Hitchcock – Director ASt
Figure 1: (Source: NIST GCR 04-867). NIST calculated the costs, and applied
it to the total cost of a facility over a year of its entire life; a total loss of AU$3.18
per square metre per year every single year. Note: the 2009 NIST report costs
shown are in Australian dollars
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