Published / 05/06/2015
No company is short of data these days in fact in every CIO’s strategic plan this year there will be some initiative about “Big Data”. There are certainly great opportunities to improve business by harnessing the vast amount of information available these days but sometimes organisations do not get benefit from the data they do have.
In Property and FM, like every other area, there maybe lots of applications (perhaps too many) but how many allow senior managers and the executive team to make strategic decisions? It is essential for operational effectiveness to know what preventive tasks are due, whether they are completed on time; to have a list of all properties, understand when leases may expire; or to profile energy costs. However, this tactical level whilst crucial for managing today does not help gain step-changes in improvement for tomorrow.
As an organisation, that sells analytic and operational solutions to both service providers and end-user clients NJW are exceptionally placed to understand what the essential elements are in getting real value from analysis tools. Below is a checklist to consider when selecting an application or planning an architectural change. This can be whether implementing the solution internally or getting the analysis from a service provider’s systems.
- Ease of use
- Thanks to Apple and Google everyone’s expectations are high. If the analysis tool requires referral to an in-depth manual and a training course – forget it. If it is not intuitive, it will not get used. This includes incorporation within the organisation’s infrastructure without needing yet another Userid and password (SSO – Single Sign On).
- There may not be lots of strategic information yet there is certainly lots of data. Therefore, the new system must be able to easily integrate into existing legacy systems including those of suppliers. The answers are there but they need to be identified, verified, collated and synthesised.
- Speed of deployment
- Every team is under pressure to deliver yesterday; competition is increasing in every market. The application needs to be able to produce results very quickly, coping with heterogeneous input and sometimes data of suspect quality.
- For the results to be acted upon they need to be believed. This means that the recommendations can be verified and audited; but also that they are presented in a format that the organisation will accept. The application should match corporate standards it must be easily branded.
- Forget what the IT team says it has to run on an iPad (and its competitors). The monthly printed report may be history but so increasingly is the monthly PowerPoint presentation. Results need to be immediate and accessed from anywhere and any device.
- Tell me something I did not know
- Regurgitating information entered (albeit in a sexier manner) is not enough. Time is saved and profit increased by drawing attention to exceptions good or bad; separating outliers from issues; and revealing unexpected relationships.
- The “only constant is change…” yes we have all heard that. For something, we all know it is surprising how little attention is paid to the cost, time and resources required to configure and integrate systems as the background landscape alters. Do not buy “quick drying cement” it may be speedy to install but very expensive when the first and every subsequent evolution is needed.
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
- When evaluating the purchase or assessing the contribution of a service providers system the cost for your organisation needs to be calculated. This includes your IT team (for integration, management and hosting); day-to-day operations (new users, new reports, data entry); and enhancements and changes.
- Data as an asset
- Information that is not well structured and easily interpreted may as well be stored as Egyptian hieroglyphs. As soon as the analysis repository is implemented and successful other teams will want access and to link with it. So the data model must be simple to interpret and use. This is especially true if rather than an organisation implements its own system it gets the results from a suppliers system. Should you decide to change the supplier you must be able to take your data with you (don’t worry that will be explicit in the contract); AND you must be able to understand it.
There are lots of other areas to be considered when selecting a solution but from our experience the above are often the ones that determine a successful deployment.