Friday, 23 December 2011

Affordable technology for low cost labour - achieving ROI in Facilities Management

In the first of a series of items concentrating on specific sectors, Steve Reynolds examines how Facilities Management businesses can set about achieving return on investment from a nominal technology spend.

It’s a well-established fact that deploying smart mobility solutions helps businesses in Facilities Management to reduce paperwork, streamline processes and reduce associated overhead costs.
While this is now broadly accepted, in today’s ever cost-conscious world Return On Investment (ROI) finds itself increasingly under the spotlight. There is a legitimate concentration on low cost efficiencies amongst organisations in the FM sector. This means extra attention should be given to the type of work carried out and the environment where it is conducted.

One of the biggest challenges in deploying new technology is justifying the investment costs to a board of directors primarily concerned with maximising investment and producing a tangible ROI. Improved customer satisfaction and similar intangible benefits are no longer enough to win sign-off.

Times of austerity make it increasingly hard to justify high value solutions for low cost labour.

So what can be done?

So how can FM organisations achieve return on an investment in the latest technology? Firstly, ensure it does tangibly improve business performance. Secondly, ensure that it doesn’t cost the earth.

Any organisation seeking to maximise technology expenditure will be working to an agreed standard with its customers. For basic wage-level staff like cleaners, routine and timely job cycles are important; as is compliance and health and safety. Giving such staff expensive mobile devices, even if it secures an agreed standard, can be considered an ROI gamble.

But affordable new mobile technology  can allow FM organisations to select an appropriate platform to meet an agreed standard. Existing devices can be used, possibly of those already owned by staff, enabling them to conduct the necessary compliance checks, and deliver customer information to the office in real-time.

In addition to operational information, a cleaner might note an order for more bleach, which can be registered and dispatched to the relevant point. A hospital environment might contain a number of workers from porters to senior technicians. Where it’s critical for facilities to keep working at optimum levels for a range of different staff, a single, simple platform approach should be adopted.

One size fits all

A mobile platform should grow into business and flow down onto appropriate devices, whatever those devices are. In the new age of mobile no business should look to deploy specialist devices into specific pockets of an operation without considering the bigger picture. That is, other workers whose needs might not be prioritised as highly. Advancements in technology  means there is no reason why mobile can’t be spread equally throughout a whole organisation, as soon as it is deployed.

Instead of a piecemeal approach to technology deployment, FM organisations should be examining their mobility strategies by assessing what single software solution is available to fit comprehensive business objectives and improve performance across the board.

Specialist technology providers with one solution for one type of device which fits one area of business: clearly offer a limited service. With the need to maximise technology investment and provide tangible ROI, the wiser choice is a single solution which supports everything and everyone. 

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