Facility management and building technologies have given us the ability to manage the smallest details of our work practices and to see into the most remote corners of our buildings. Work management metrics, energy consumption, water management, thermal comfort, and a broad range of building performance metrics are increasingly at our fingertips; often in real time. One of the biggest challenges facing commercial real estate professionals is distinguishing what data is important – the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and what to do with it once we’ve determined which metrics bring value. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the amount of data and forget that it’s useless unless it provides meaningful insights that support your business.

After all, we’ve been conditioned over the past decade or two to monitor and measure almost everything we do. The need to make facilities more sustainable, to manage them efficiently, to increase their value, and the ability to collect vast – and continually increasing – amounts of performance data have converged so that we are often faced with far more data than we need. Data is everywhere; but we’ve been so captivated by our ability to collect vast quantities of it that we often lose sight of the fact that it is only valuable if it’s actionable.

The Value of Key Performance Indicators

Monitoring your facilities’ KPIs delivers a variety of benefits for your organization. The Facilities Management Department at Western Michigan University identifies these strategic planning advantages that come from key performance indicators:

  • Identify everything easy to measure and count
  • Make performance and strategic goals visible
  • Promote teamwork by sharing measurable objectives
  • Question and direct attention – however, KPIs don’t provide answers on their own
  • Focus employees’ attention on the tasks and processes at hand

Most importantly for facilities managers, KPIs help you keep a close eye on the overall health of the building, explains Eric Crabb, Executive Vice President at QSI Facilities, a facilities and construction services firm.

KPIs are key to tracking compliance and performance, and performance ultimately drives costs,” says Crabb. “KPIs not only give you detailed data into running your business and the total cost of ownership, but they also help you drive down costs and provide transparency.
Eric Crabb, QSI Facilities

Getting from Data to Meaningful Insight

It’s one thing to know that data has to be meaningful to be useful and an entirely different thing to achieve it.

There are two significant hurdles to identifying your KPIs and gaining insight from the data.

The first hurdle is that the data is housed in many different systems, services, and reporting methods – including paper records. Without a single digital hub that integrates data from all of the various sources in a central dashboard, there is no way to generate the insights needed to make fully informed business decisions about your facilities.

The second hurdle is that stakeholders don’t have access to the right data at the right time to support their roles. The KPIs tracked by the facility manager are not identical to those needed by the compliance officer, leasing agent, maintenance technician, asset manager, or occupant. The digital hub should deliver only the key insights that support the needs of the stakeholder’s area of the business.

Here’s where the investment in and end-to-end building management platform comes into play (and work in your favor).

A single dashboard should capture whichever KPIs matter most to all areas of your business. That means that your operational (work orders, inspections, tenant requests, maintenance records, etc.) and financial data need to filter into the digital hub. If your employees are still jumping between multiple software programs and reporting systems and pulling data into spreadsheets for manual analysis, that means that each program’s reporting capabilities aren’t cutting it.

Integrating the systems within your building to fully build out the digital building twin allows you to easily navigate and clearly organize your data for trend spotting. There is so much data being continually generated by your building and captured in different tools, like building automation systems, accounting systems, CMMS / facility management systems, and more. Without integrating all of this data into one end-to-end platform, you can’t achieve the full picture of how your building operations are performing, where the critical issues are, where the biggest improvement opportunities are, or the effectiveness of your current improvement activities.

By being able to compile all your data into a holistic visual dashboard, you can deliver the same kind of prioritized data that supports every level of your business – from individual facility to full portfolio – based on the data they need most, in the right format at the right time. Giving them access to only the data they need to see allows your team to focus in on what matters to them rather than combing through tons of (seemingly) meaningless data.

In Conclusion

No single KPI framework can work for all companies or stakeholders within a company. Effectiveness of the KPI is directly related to how useful it is to the function being performed to support the company’s business, organizational goals, facility management goals, and facility requirements. While KPIs alone cannot transform a facility’s performance, the ability to leverage the meaningful insights derived from them can be a strong driving force toward it.