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Improving Compliance: How and Where to Start

January 27, 2022

To mark FM Compliance Week (January 17-21), I gave a presentation on how to start changing your compliance processes for the better. Not to toot my own horn too much, but there was some good stuff in that presentation, so I’m sharing a recap for you here.

To set the stage, let’s quickly review some of the current compliance challenges many organizations are facing:

  • Static reports
  • Unreliable asset information
  • Unreliable, incomplete, and inaccurate data
  • Decentralized data: multiple data and spreadsheets

If you don’t make a change, there are some real dangers to sticking with the way you’ve always done things:

  • Risk of missing compliance issues
    • Fines
    • Loss of Revenue
    • Injury
    • Loss of Life
  • Lack of audit trail and complete history
  • Inefficient and wasteful process

Where to Start with Facility Compliance

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Chart a Course to Your Goals

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That’s exactly how to tackle your compliance program. Start with the end in mind. Where do you want to go? What’s the vision look like? Picture it: “I’m going to eventually eat this entire elephant. When I’m finished, it’ll look and feel like X.”

Compliance isn’t about 100% passing every inspection you do. It’s about how you respond when an inspection fails. What happens? Did you take action? How did you track that action? Can you prove that action was taken within a certain amount of time? Those are the kinds of questions to consider when visualizing your finish line.

Once you know where you’re headed, work backwards from there. What foundation do you need to achieve that future? What attainable goals can you set that will help you get to the end result?

Continuing with our elephant example, think about: what part makes the most sense to eat first? How do I get the bites small enough to eat? What utensils will I eat the elephant with?

Remember, unattainable goals (huge bites) will only frustrate people and slow your progress. Smaller, more attainable goals (little bites) will actually get you there faster and with less resistance.

Assess Your Risk

Now you need to look at your current systems and processes and identify the good, the bad, and the ugly. Identify things like inefficiencies and disconnected processes. Every pain point and risk you discover is an opportunity to make things better.

As you examine your risks, organize them based on a metric, for example:

Decide which metric is most important – that’s where you prioritize your efforts. Then you can start to attack those risks by identifying the opportunities they bring.

Take an inefficient inspection route, for example. You know your people spend too much time looking for the assets they need to inspect. The opportunity in that situation is the need for a map and a better marked route for your people in the field.

Another example could be the challenge of managing data using your paper-based system. The opportunity here is to look into a digital system where you can put in checklists and other information and get some automated reporting out of the back end.

As you assess your roadblocks, ask questions such as:

  • What things can I standardize?
  • What data do I need to track?
  • Do I have all assets mapped at each location?

FM Compliance Webinar_Blog Sub Image 3Get Senior Leadership on Board

You want to get leadership support and buy-in early on in your initiative to improve compliance.

Ultimately, approach it by presenting the areas you can improve on and the tool or tools that can improve it. Going into it, have some idea of the budget situation. Is there money already budgeted for continuous improvement or RSD? If so, come with a plan for how to spend some of that money.

If there’s nothing budgeted, show how the tool or tools you want to try could be used to actually save money and increase ROI. If you choose a good technology partner, they’ll help you develop that ROI plan you can take to leadership to show how the tool will make the organization more efficient, increase the bottom line, reduce downtime, etc.

Use your internal knowledge of your organization to paint the picture of how your desired improvements can bring value and help the entire company meet its goals.

Set Up an Asset Database

For a lot of organizations, the best place to start improving compliance is an asset database. What are the things that you do compliance against? What do those assets look like? Where do they live?

Today, some people have this data in spreadsheets. Some people have them in paper documents. Some people have a hard data plan behind their desk to keep anyone from taking it because it’s the only copy. Step one in building a better foundation for compliance is getting all this information in one place. Get a database built out that’s more than just a list of assets.

And not just a static database. A live database platform allows you to check on inspection, compliance, and maintenance progress live, as it’s happening. That’s critical. You’re able to get the data and reporting you need to prove compliance. You can see how many assets passed inspection and how many failed. If it failed, what failed? You can even drill deeper and see failure trends. That data starts to drive your future focus.

I also typically recommend that you look into advanced mapping: specifically, a digital twin. What most people think about when I say “digital twin” is an expensive, photorealistic, 3D model. But a digital twin can simply be a floor plan with some location-based asset information. With that, you can start building rounds. You can start gaining efficiencies. You can start showing people all the places that they have to check.

A live asset database and location mapping are more than just helpful tools. They provide a framework for continuous improvement. You’re not going to solve the whole compliance mess today. But you’ll get there over 5 years or 10 years or whatever. Better data collection and management will help you see constant, incremental improvement.

A smart way to improve your data management is with facility condition assessment (FCA) software. Here at AkitaBox, we built our FCA software to include asset management, location mapping, automated reporting, and capital management. With one tool, you can collect reliable data from your latest FCA, easily keep it current, view it any way you want to, and use it to inform more accurate budgeting.

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Automate as Much as You Can

Let’s automate some things. Automation sounds big and scary. But sometimes it’s as simple as pre-filling a checklist.

Say you have a 10-item checklist. Most of the time, you can just check off all 10 items for a particular asset. Only occasionally will you not have to check everything off. What if you could automate checking those boxes? Even reducing the number of clicks you have to make can build small efficiencies in your process.

Automation may not be possible across the board, but there’s some areas where you can improve. It’s taking those small, attainable steps and continuously improving on the process that’s going to get you to the future you want to see.

Outcomes of an Improved Approach to Compliance

In conclusion, it’s absolutely worth it to overhaul your compliance and risk management systems, because you’ll enjoy benefits like:

  • Reliable data
  • Improved communication
  • Reclaimed resources
  • Optimized employee training
  • Improved triaging efficiency
  • Simplified compliance
  • Inspection time reduction

If you’re curious to see how a facilities optimization platform like AkitaBox can bring asset management, location mapping, and lots of other tools to your organization, request a demo today.

Link to Improving Compliance and Risk Management in Facilities eBook

Josh Lowe

Co-Founder and Chief Solutions Engineer for AkitaBox. With over 15 years of experience in the facility management industry, Josh is passionate about helping building management professionals make data-driven decisions that impact operational efficiency and success.

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