Where is Your Data?

Facilities range in age from just constructed to the completion of the pyramids!  Many studies around indicate that the time it takes to perform maintenance and repair on facilities is as much as 33% longer per repair due to the lack of access to information about these repairs.  Much of the time the information is available, just not accessible, and some of the time the information is just not available.

You have two things to consider with this information; first, if it is the former, how do you permit “rank and file” to have simple access to it, and if it is the latter, how do you capture it so that you have it and can find it the next time it is needed.  We will address the first consideration in this writing.

Most facilities departments have received at the conclusion of each project completed specific drawings, documents, Operations and Maintenance manuals and various and sundry product information about the installation just completed.  In the past, it came in rolls of paper and in boxes upon boxes of files.  Today it can still come in this paper format as well as on CDs and DVDs, portable drives, in proprietary electronic formats that require many different types of programs to access, shared FTP sites and the list goes on.

Also, most facilities departments have a “place” where this physical and digital information is stored for safe keeping.  The larger the facility, the larger and more complex the storage place can be.  A complication of this is when the facility also has a bit of age, not quite the pyramids, but sometimes going back 50 to 100 years.

The most important thing to do with this information is, make it available to rank and file so that you can begin to attack the problem that is currently consuming 25% to 35% of your facilities budget!  Balancing the “keep it safe” and “make it available” is the challenge.  Most times facilities departments err on the keep it safe instead of making it available.

You must make drawings and O&M manuals available to rank and file to reduces this time which consumes 35% of your personnel maintenance  budget…the question is…how?

Instead of answering with what, we will discuss key considerations:

  • Having a place to store the files is not enough; you must make it “bullet proof” to protect the images from accidental acts of overwriting by competent technology users, malicious acts of disgruntled workers and random actions by your technology challenged users.
  • You must have a tool available to mark up those drawings with markings that do not change the authorship of the originator of the drawing nor modify the original file
  • Everyone using the system must be tracked and notes left behind identified with each user
  • The data should be accessible connected or disconnected from the network
  • The solution must be as simple to update as it is simple to use


Now that you have decided to do something to make available the hundreds, most likely thousands and very likely, hundreds of thousands of pieces of facility information…the question is…what?  It is like eating the proverbial elephant, one bite at a time.  Consistent organization of facility information across all of your facilities whether handling content or in the capture of user inputs that keep that content current will make it valuable immediately and into the future.  Focus on these considerations will bring about the answer that is right for you.