Responsible for multiple buildings? As you scale your space-scheduling software to cover more than one property, look for trends in the utilization data to see which properties are fully using their space.
“Start tracking traffic and occupancy in and out of buildings or floors and get a handle on where people are at that level first. Then compare between buildings and understand the density ratio to see which spaces are being used the most,” recommends Roof. “A lot of people want to start with a room, but a room is like looking at one spot on a giraffe – you need to understand the bigger picture first.”
One client, a large payroll company with hundreds of properties across the U.S., used this tactic to lease or sell underutilized space.
“Just by being able to track when people were scheduling a place to sit and comparing how many people were there vs. how many were assigned to each location, they saved over $1 million the first year by reducing the amount of real estate they had and changing the type of property,” explains Roof.
After you’ve right-sized your properties, then start looking at the rooms, recommends Alevras. Can you repurpose infrequently used meeting spaces to fulfill other needs?
“The basic principle is that you want to schedule rooms based on the size and need of the group that’s meeting. You don’t want to use an auditorium for four people,” Alevras says. “A common misconception is that there’s insufficient meeting space within a facility, so people tend to overcompensate by building more spaces. That causes difficulties in terms of still meeting the need for space. Your focus should be to better understand the overall utilization and put tighter controls on how the space is reserved.”
Think of your organization as an airline, Roof recommends. Post-9/11 restructuring led the airline industry to reexamine flight data, dump unprofitable routes, and assign differently sized aircraft to some routes where needed. As a result, utilization rates for most airlines have gone up by nearly 10%, Roof says.
“That’s what the building industry is going through right now, figuring out how to be more profitable and determining the right space – or aircraft – to use,” explains Roof. “How should it be configured? Do you need first class and economy or first, business, and economy? In other words, do you need a lot of collaborative space, touchdown space, or dedicated space? The only way to do that is to get a better understanding of how the space is actually being utilized.”
SPACE SUCCESS STORIES
Space Success #1
Portfolio Size: 400 buildings with approximately 12 million square feet.
Problem: Duke’s three hospitals and other clinical facilities used a variety of homegrown systems that tracked space information in different places for varying purposes at an inconsistent level of detail. For example, the Medical Center Architect’s Office had a highly detailed space management system that linked CAD drawings of all Medical Center buildings to its space database. However, most of the large medical school departments had separate systems to track individual space usage.
Needs: The university wanted to create a single institutional space-tracking system that united disparate data from all sources into one accurate database.
Results: All institutional data is tracked in one database. Department administrators and space managers can edit space information as needed to maintain an accurate record of who is using every room and why. The space data is also used for Medicare and Medicaid reporting, indirect cost recovery for research spaces, and allocation of chargebacks for shared services like public safety.
Space Success #2
Metropolitan Area, MO
Portfolio Size: Over two dozen schools and educational
centers serving over 17,000 students, plus administrative space. The district itself covers 117 square miles.
Problem: The district’s existing software package offered
limited opportunities for customization and configuration,
leading LSSD officials to look elsewhere for help with space administration and management.
Needs: Besides bookings and reservations, the district’s
technology department wanted to build in custom options, such as a dropdown menu in the service module for different room and equipment configurations.
Results: Facilities scheduling is now integrated with equipment,
catering, and room setup requirements. Lee’s Summit also
decided to create a website that dynamically retrieves information for each day’s bookings and displays the information on a large screen in the lobby of the administrative building.
Space Success #3
Portfolio Size: 493 buildings with over 5.5 million square feet, plus over 1,000 support structures, 177 miles of paved roads, 14 miles of railroad lines, and 111 miles of electrical infrastructure located on an 889-square-mile reservation.
Problem: The laboratory, one of the foremost nuclear research and development labs in the world, used GIS for facilities management. However, this solution only contained office space data and couldn’t deliver space utilization analysis or other needs. In fact, “the GIS process for generating INL’s annual utilization report was so complex that it took two months,”says David Blain, an INL staffer who took the lead on finding an IWMS solution.
Needs: The lab needed one integrated package that could deliver a level of analysis GIS could not provide. Chargebacks based on square footage were also at the top of the priority list.
Results: After installing space management software, INL spent four months updating existing AutoCAD drawings to identify who used each space in every building on campus. Allocation and utilization reports were created with the resulting information. The team can search for organizations, employees, and vacant rooms, and can now account for employees who use multiple offices. Chargebacks are managed through a web-based application integrated with the lab’s space software, and the costs are based on an evaluation the team created to determine the cost of offices. Utilization reports are created in one week.
Janelle Penny firstname.lastname@example.org is associate editor of BUILDINGS.