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One Tool to Do It All: A New Era in Facility Assessments

December 14, 2023

Whether you call it a facility condition assessment (FCA), building condition survey, property condition assessment, asset audit, or some other name, there’s one thing facility assessments all have in common. The process for conducting one is a total mess.

The Traditional Facility Assessment Process is a Nightmare

Although every assessment provider has their own unique version of the process, it typically looks something like this:

Look at how complicated that is. If that reminds you of your current process, then you’re definitely feeling the pain of:

  • Using 3-5 different software tools to complete one assessment.
  • Juggling a clipboard and camera to gather the onsite data.
  • Spending days manually organizing mountains of data and moving it in and out of different programs.
  • Starting this workflow over each time you discover a mistake in the data you collected.
  • Pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into a static final report that’s destined to be out of date in 6 months.

The whole thing is ridiculous if you ask us. Yet the industry pretty much accepts this crazy process and less-than-ideal deliverable as the status quo.

Real World Example – BCA Architects & Engineers

New York-based BCA Architects & Engineers conducts building condition surveys as part of the services they provide for K-12, higher education, healthcare, civil, and community facilities. Their assessment process used to look alot like what you saw in the chart above.

“We were taking printed floor plans with us out to the buildings and marking them up using pen and paper. Then we’d come back into the office and regurgitate all that information into the computer and create reports,” says Maxwell Bendert, project manager and architect at BCA. “We were literally recreating the wheel every time with our reporting, and it was painstaking. It was countless hours wasted.”

Keep reading to learn what happened once they ditched their old way of doing assessments.

From Chaos to Clarity – An Entire Assessment in One Tool

AkitaBox FCA software is a single tool that does everything an assessment requires – onsite data collection, cost estimation, data analysis, and reporting.

Just look at how much easier the assessment process becomes when you no longer have to use multiple tools.

(Download the full graphic here)

We’re talking:

  • Faster, more standardized data collection using the AkitaBox Capture mobile app – no more pen and paper, cameras, laptops, or spreadsheets.
  • Map each asset onto digital floor plans to show a complete, location-based overview of the client’s facility.
  • No moving data between tools – data is easy to find and move through each stage of the assessment.
  • So much more than a reporting dashboard – our customizable Insights dashboard lets you slice, dice, sort, and segment the data for deeper data analysis without changing to a different software.

But that’s not all. AkitaBox creates a living FCA that’s constantly current. AkitaBox FCA software integrates with the AkitaBox FM platform for work orders, asset management, and preventive maintenance. This integration means that the day-to-day data from WOs, PMs, etc. continuously refreshes the original assessment data, keeping it alive and always accurate. With AkitaBox, you can offer your clients a one-two punch of a living FCA and a comprehensive turnkey FM platform. Now that’s how you add value to your offering.

And although AkitaBox software has “FCA” in the name, you can use it for all types of facility-related assessments:

  • Asset inventory or updates
  • Energy audits
  • Energy, sustainability, governance (ESG)
  • Inspections & compliance tracking
  • Technology audits
  • Capital planning
  • Fire-Life-Safety audits
  • ADA compliance reporting
  • And so much more

9 Advantages of Single-Tool Facility Assessments

Time Savings. There are three areas where you spend time in an FCA: onsite data collection, offsite data organization, and building reports. A single, purpose-built FCA software saves hours of time at each stage of the assessment. That’s a huge amount of reclaimed time that could be spent on other initiatives.

Streamlined Workflow. It eliminates the need to switch between multiple software applications. This saves time and reduces the potential for errors that can occur when you transfer data between different tools. This also helps maintain data integrity, providing more reliable results.

Unified Data Repository. It’s like a single source of truth for FCAs. All the raw data, analysis, and reporting dashboards live in one place. Not only does that make it easier to access the necessary data at every stage of an assessment, but it also facilitates collaboration among team members – all your stakeholders can access the same data on the same platform to keep everyone on the same page.

Decreased Risk of Forgetting, Losing Data. There’s always a risk of losing site data when multiple tools are in play. With FCA software, you can easily input data directly into the system as you collect it onsite.

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Data Consistency. Accurate, standardized data is essential in FCAs. But tools like Excel won’t stop you from making typos or inputting incorrect information. Those mistakes add up quickly and can mess up your reports. FCA software normalizes how you collect and organize information so you can maintain data consistency.

Higher Value Client Deliverable. AkitaBox FCA software creates living FCAs – meaning the client can continue adding data to the original baseline data. And instead of starting over from scratch every 5-7 years, you and your client can simply update the assessment every 12 months. That translates to less intensive work for your engineers and – over the long term – lower costs for your client. Talk about increasing your value to your clients.

Cost Savings. Licensing and maintaining multiple software tools can be more expensive than investing in a single tool. Moving to one tool can bring cost savings in terms of licensing fees, support, and maintenance.

Efficient Updates and Upgrades. Managing updates and upgrades is simpler when you’re only dealing with one software tool. It’s much easier to ensure your entire FCA program is up-to-date.

Simplified IT Management. Don’t forget about your in-house IT guys and gals. Managing and maintaining a single software tool is generally less complex for IT departments. This can result in smoother operations, quicker issue resolution, and more efficient use of resources.

AI is Making Assessments Even Faster

Facility assessments involve collecting, organizing, and analyzing huge amounts of data. Wouldn’t you love to skip all that typing, data exporting, and spreadsheet tweaking? With AkitaBox FCA software, you can – thanks to AI.

AkitaBox incorporates AI into our software to take over the boring, mundane, error-prone work of assessments that humans don’t need to be doing – leaving you free to focus on the big picture.

So just how does AI help?

Simplified onsite data collection. AkitaBox FCA lets you take a photo of an equipment’s manufacturer tag – it then reads the text from the photo and automatically enters it into the system. That’s just one of many ways it makes data gathering go more quickly and accurately.

Faster offsite data organization with automation. In the simplest terms, an FCA is just a lot of data entry and data validation. Why not let a technology tool do what it’s good at (entering and organizing data) so the engineers can do what they do best (use their industry knowledge and experience to review and confirm the FCA information is accurate)?

Improved use of existing labor. Instead of downloading photos and entering data, your highly skilled engineers can focus on evaluating data and generating recommendations – tasks better suited to their experience.

Read More: AI Insights: How AkitaBox is Using AI to Make Facilities Management Easier

Real World Example – BCA Architects & Engineers

BCA was tired of wasting time with old-fashioned assessment practices and wanted to modernize their process.

“We were looking for a tool where we could take a tablet or ipad out in the field with us, have all the floor plans on there, walk into a space, see the assets that we needed to see, drop a pin, take a picture, add in the required data, and then come back into the office and make some small tweaks, and then generate the report: done,” explains Max.

And that’s exactly what they got with AkitaBox. “Now instead of having to go in the field, writing everything down on a piece of paper, coming back, putting it all in the Excel report, and then basically rewriting everything, AkitaBox is just pulling all that data from when we were already out in the field,” he says.

Not only is AkitaBox extremely easy for them to use, it’s also saving the firm tons of time. Max states: “We’re definitely saving hours to days with the data capturing, and we’re saving weeks of time on the reporting side, project dependent, of course.”

Having a single, comprehensive tool for assessments is improving the project management, data collection, and reporting aspects for Max and his team.

“On the project management side of things, AkitaBox is so easy. We get the floor plans uploaded into AkitaBox. I make sure all the people associated with the project are added to the team within AkitaBox. Then I hand my team their ipads and they start capturing all the data they need to. It’s much quicker than our old process where we’d all sit down and have a meeting, print out all the plans, and figure out who’s going where. With AkitaBox, you can walk into any space and collect the assets you need to – and we avoid duplicating efforts because everyone out in the field stays synced up with our main AkitaBox account,” says Max.

“On the reporting side of things, I’m foreseeing AkitaBox saving us an immense amount of time. Before, we were literally recreating the wheel every time with our reporting. In AkitaBox, you can build a report template and just modify small bits of information here and there. That’s going to save us so much time, especially with how the reporting feature can just pull the asset data straight from the Capture app,” he adds.

Bring Single Tool Assessments to Your Firm

Assessment tools should empower you, not hold you back. If the traditional, multi-tool assessment process has you hogtied, it’s time to break free.

Explore how AkitaBox FCA software can turn your firm into a lean, mean assessment machine. Download our free ebook: Bring Your Facility Condition Assessments to Life and request a free, customized, no-strings-attached demo here.

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Betsy Francoeur

Betsy is AkitaBox's Content Manager. She loves to write blog posts, e-books, whitepapers, emails, and magazine articles about all things facilities management. She also enjoys traveling, running 5ks, and cuddling with her dog.

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