Why just a work order management system isn't enough for your facilities portfolio

Dylan Rogers

There’s a lot that goes into managing your facilities portfolio. It involves plenty of moving parts—sometimes literally—and it means juggling a complex bundle of locations, assets, priorities, personnel, budgets, technology, and more.

And it’s tempting to think that we can manage each of these elements with a technology platform alone. But experience has shown this not to be the case.

Many businesses are sold on the promises of a work order management system. But over time, they realize that they’ve only begun to scratch the surface of their needs. It’s inevitable: They need more to manage their portfolios effectively.

Let’s dig into the five reasons why a work order management system alone isn’t enough to handle your facilities portfolio.

Reason #1: You’ll need technology expertise

Technology creates a need for technology management. By itself, even a very capable work order management system isn’t going to be useful. You need the know-how to really make the most of it.

And without hiring the experts, companies very often get stuck paying for much more technology than they’re able to use.

Tech maintenance is another problem. Apart from hiring staff to make the most of your work order management system’s unique features and capabilities, you’ll need someone to manage the flow of information in and out of your system.

How confident are your answers to the below questions?

  • Is all of your work order information up to date?
  • Do your reports reflect the most important trends at your high-traffic locations?
  • Are work orders being paid once? Twice? Not at all?

Your facilities portfolio doesn’t run on its own, and neither does your technology. Like finding the right technician for a specific job, you’ll need to hire the right expertise to make the most of your technology.

Reason #2: You’ll need to manage providers

Provider management is essential. Without a deep provider network and a plan for coverage at each of your locations, work will begin to fall through the cracks. As a result, facilities issues will pile up at your locations.

And your business could suffer if your customers begin to feel that you aren’t looking out for their comfort and safety.

These issues are bigger than any technology platform. In fact, they’re essential to charting the future success of your business. It comes down to understanding priorities, trades, skill sets, and workflows.

  • How many technicians will you need at any of your locations at any given time?
  • Which regions are showing the most need, and for what trades?
  • Are each of your providers properly insured? Do you have that documentation on file?

On top of answering these essential questions, you’ll need someone to handle the alignment between your providers and the work orders they’ll be assigned.

To do that, you’ll need to have an in-depth knowledge of each provider’s individual strengths, a record of their responsiveness, and an ongoing assessment of their performance within your portfolio.

And all of that requires the kind of expertise that no technology platform alone can provide.

Reason #3: You’ll need to make sense of information—lots of it

We know from experience that any given work order offers hundreds of individual data points. And each of those data points can be used to improve performance and reduce costs.

Facilities managers and other decision-makers need to get the most out of every work order.

But data isn’t worth anything without a meaningful story.

Unless you can make sense of the ocean of information your facilities portfolio will create over time, you’re going to need to bring a team of analytics experts on board.

And this can be more than a full-time job. Like managing the pipes, floors, lighting, and air conditioning units at your locations, managing your facilities data requires constant diligence.

Analytics experts can help you set goals and resolve performance bottlenecks.

  • You’ll discover new ways to accomplish more work in less time
  • You’ll avoid unnecessary costs by prioritizing high-traffic locations
  • You’ll set realistic and achievable performance benchmarks in light of new needs
  • You’ll assign work more intelligently as providers show their unique strengths

In addition to discovering value hidden in your facilities data, your data experts can also help you store and contextualize other important information relevant to your facilities.

Your work order management system might offer a document storage feature. But that’s only going to be of value if the information is current, centralized, and contextualized.

Even today, plenty of organizations still rely on analog sources like sticky notes, printed guidebooks, three-ring binders, and file cabinets—not to mention the heads of employees.

But analog sources can be lost, damaged, or simply forgotten. And when employees move on, a lot of what they know leaves with them.

So in addition to making sense of lots of data, it’s essential to collect everything else you already know about your facilities in the same place.

Discovering what you need to know about your facilities—and making it clear what’s already known—is about experience and skill. Your technology platform can’t do this on its own.

Reason #4: You’ll need to fine-tune your processes

Your facilities operation probably has a number of processes in place. Your methods and procedures help you organize projects and priorities. They help you get things done.

But it’s too easy to rely on processes even long after they’ve stopped delivering returns.

And very often, we’re not aware that our methods aren’t getting the same results until it’s too late.

What to do?

Your technology platform might be able to tell you what workflows and processes you’ve relied on up until this point. You can check work order history notes and find that things are going according to plan.

But no piece of software can provide you with operational consultation and advice. Your facilities portfolio should instead rely on years of experience in the industry.

You need people to tell you what processes are broken—before they pose an interruption. 

No organization can afford to just discard the way it’s always worked, especially not when projects are live and so much is on the line.

And examining  your workflows and procedures in real time can be an enormous headache, especially when you’re focused on delivering solutions when there’s a pressing need.

Your business is constantly in a process of change and adaptation. These small adjustments require constant attention, review, and insight from experience.

A work order management system can help you check the boxes, but an expert with the right consultative approach will help you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, and not merely how it’s done.

Reason #5: You’ll need support teams and trade experts

Your facilities organization involves a number of important players:

  • Decision-makers setting long-term goals aligned with company values
  • Facilities managers organizing the flow of work and resources across your portfolio
  • Technicians responding to both scheduled and sudden needs
  • Your customers, who react to your facilities by supporting your business—or not

Are you in a position to make promises to your customers? If your business is to be trusted and depended upon, your customers need to feel as though you understand their needs.

For that, maintaining location uptime is critical.

And while your facilities technology platform can help you organize, assign, and prioritize work, the reality is that there’s a lot more on the line when it comes to preserving uptime.

If a pipe breaks in the middle of the night, a security guard on site should be able to call a support line and have a qualified technician dispatched to solve the problem.

To accomplish this, you need a lot more than even top-of-the-line technology platforms. You need a deep network of dedicated support personnel. You need trade experts on call, ready to process a complicated situation over the phone and dispatch the right providers.

You could staff this yourself, but consider the overhead required to source, vet, onboard, and continuously train your facilities support staff.

A third-party facilities maintenance provider could simply handle all of that for you. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you’re always covered, even when the unexpected happens.

Facilities management means being ahead of the curve on each of your locations, assets, personnel, budgets, and technology. And while technology is an important part of this equation, it’s far from providing a full solution. Working with a group of consultative experts will make the biggest difference for your portfolio.

Get in touch with SMS Assist: weknowFM@smsassist.com

What is SMS Assist?
SMS Assist is on a mission to transform the facilities maintenance industry by delivering unprecedented transparency and control. More than 186,000 commercial properties—like retail stores, banks, restaurants, and more—and residential rental properties leverage our cloud-based platform to connect to more than 20,000 service providers and our operations teams that are available every second of every day. It’s a new approach for an industry in need of a better solution.