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Tearing Down the Walls Between Facilities and IT

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May 01, 2020
By Leslie O'Connell

Organizations have long struggled with achieving alignment across departments.  The relationship between the facilities management and IT teams is a very common example of two organizations that have historically operate in silos in dealing with one another.  The challenge is that facilities management is increasingly modernizing and focused on replacing older, antiquated legacy systems.  A key part of this modernization strategy is the use or more digital technology and cloud-based platforms that provide a broader range of capabilities.  To provide even more value to the organization, it is important for these teams to find areas where they  can collaborate and break the long-standing structural and behavioral barriers that have separated them.

FUNCTION OVERLAPS

There are a number of business-critical functions that rely heavily on both IT and facilities management teams. These include:

  1. Onboarding and Offboarding: When onboarding new employees, IT will activate network jacks, setup and deliver computers, and issue mobile phones and ID badges while facilities management will make sure the physical desk space is setup, clean and ready. When offboarding employees, IT deactivates network jacks and collects computers, mobile phones and ID badges. Facilities management delivers boxes for the person leaving and cleans the space once they’re gone.
  2. Relocations and New Buildings: Successfully relocating staff and opening new buildings is a heavy lift for both IT and facilities management teams. Facilities management will lead the relocation of the physical assets—phones, computers, mobile phones, desk chairs—while IT will typically activates and deactivates network jacks and sets up computers and other IT equipment.
  3. Enterprise Asset Management and Event Tracking: Both facilities management and IT teams are responsible for managing and tracking the critical assets that keep a company up-and-running, including telecom, mobile devices, network jacks, computers, printers and operational technology or OT connected assets (any piece of equipment that has a sensor on it with an IP address). More often than not, there’s overlap among these asset categories. For example, a bathroom door has hardware that belongs to Lock + Key, a door and frame that belongs to Carpentry and an IoT sensor with an IP address that belongs to IT.
  4. Data Management: In order to make smart, strategic decisions for their respective functions, IT and facilities management teams track and manage much of the same data—from space usage to incidence reports.
  5. Account Provisioning: Both IT and facilities management teams are responsible for creating accounts for enterprise-wide applications including Active Directory, HR, timekeeping and more.
  6. Call Center and Dispatch: While facilities management and IT teams tend to operate separate call and dispatch centers, the issues employees are looking to resolve often include support from both teams—from broken bathrooms to computer malfunctions.

In addition to functional overlaps, facilities management and IT also share vendors and internal resources, from mobile phone companies and network providers to jack and moving teams.

THE DISCONNECT

With so much common ground, where does the disconnect between the IT and facilities management teams come from?

 

  1. IT and Facilities tend to speak different languages. Because of each function’s focus on their own customers and priorities, IT teams don’t always have a full understanding of what facilities managers do on a day-to-day basis—and vice versa. Because of this, there’s often a disconnect in IT ticketing systems and facilities management work order processes – even when both teams need to work together to solve important issues.
  2. They’ve created separate customer experiences (CX). Facilities management has traditionally been underserved with modern technology, and IT has traditionally been overwhelmed with the number of functions they need to support from a technology perspective. Because of this, both functions have created distinct customer experiences and workflows, serving to widen the gaps between functions.
  3. There hasn’t been an easy solution to streamline their workflows. The bottom line is: If there isn’t an easy, intuitive way to streamline their distinct workflows, no one is going to invest time or resources into doing it.

 

THE FIVE STEP ROADMAP TO TEARING DOWN THE WALL

We’ve explored the functional overlaps between IT and facilities management and three common experiences that drive a wedge between these teams. Here, we offer a five-step roadmap for strategically aligning these two business-critical departments.

1.Build a Cross-Functional Leadership Team

A Deloitte report asked 7,000 executives from 130 countries to cite their number one priority for tackling complex business challenged. Eighty-nine percent said the solution was organizational design through teams.

As Forbes contributor Jeff Boss writes, “Teams—and specifically, cross functional teams, enable faster communication, which brings faster decision making. By working through teams as opposed to large departmental silos, you not only cross-pollinate perspectives and experiences (which help shape creativity and innovation) but also align daily behaviors with business strategies.”

The first step is to create your own IT-facilities management leadership team with cross-functional stakeholders who can help steward the departments to a more collaborative dynamic.

Breaking down silos is often thought of as a top-down issue, leading organizations to create management-level stakeholder teams. While it’s critical that each department’s key decision-makers are represented, it’s advantageous to include motivated junior-level employees who can add insight on the day-to-day practicalities.

2. Create a Unified Vision

 Next, it’s essential that the integrated leadership team defines a unified vision for the two departments.

To do so, explore these four questions as a group:

  • What are the business-critical short and long-term goals of each team?
  • What internal facilities, systems, processes and platforms, including ServiceNow, is each team responsible for?
  • Where is there overlap?
  • What does this combined leadership team want to accomplish collaboratively over the next 3, 6 and 12 months?

Once finalized, create a high-level report that captures the priorities of each team and the shared vision for the two departments. To create team-wide buy-in, distribute the report to department employees and stakeholders across the organization who might find it useful, including HR and finance.

3. Define Roles + Responsibilities

As Rebecca Newton reports in Harvard Business Review, research shows that when leaders have a clear and collective understanding of who is responsible for what, they more successfully lead together.

With the shared vision and roadmap in place, outline each person’s responsibility in bringing the teams’ goal(s) to life. Each person should walk away with a definitive set of follow-up items, as well as instructions on who to communicate with once the task is complete.

4. Find a Single System of Engagement and Record

More than ever, it’s crucial that your IT and facilities management teams arm themselves with a flexible cloud-based platform that automates workflows and processes across both teams. This will allow team members across departments to access more powerful data and make increasingly informed and aligned business-critical decisions.

Many of you will have experienced the power of ServiceNow in your IT operations.  Nuvolo is natively built on ServiceNow and our Connected Workplace platform enables more digital workflows and application consolidation across the facilities management domain.  With Connected Workplace for Facilities Management, you can track, manage and maintain your facilities assets and perform space management, contract management, lease management and more all on the same Nuvolo Platform.

Traditionally, it takes IT and facilities management teams hundreds—if not thousands—of disparate applications, manual processes, spreadsheets and legacy systems to get their day-to-day work done.

With Nuvolo Connected Workplace, facilities management teams can track facilities assets, manage and report on data sets, relocate and manage new buildings, onboard and offboard employees, create accounts and more using Nuvolo, a single, modern, easy-to-use cloud-based platform, built natively on ServiceNow.

Nuvolo Connected Workplace is built on ServiceNow and this helps the IT team create a seamless set of modern workflows with their facilities management counterparts.  It also enables a single system of record and eliminating the need to continue relying on outdated facilities management systems and manual processes.

5.Create a Decision-Making Protocol


Finally, you want to create a cross-functional decision-making protocol. When a cross-functional decision needs to be made, how does the team quickly and collaboratively determine next best steps?

In these instances, take a page out of former-GE CEO Jack Welch’s “Work-Out” process, a series of structured sessions meant to help businesses create “boundaryless” organizations and solve problems in real time.

When a decision needs to be made, assemble the facilities management-IT leadership team. Choose one senior level executive to be the decision-maker. Arm the team with all of the information and data available and give team members two days to gather their thoughts and suggest recommendations. After two days, bring the group back together, have everyone present their suggestions and allow the senior executive to determine the final decision and next steps.

It’s an exciting time for facilities management and IT departments, which are at the forefront of ushering in the organization’s next-generation modernization and technology innovations. But for these advances to be successfully implemented, it’s imperative that the facilities management and IT teams take these first steps to building their own cross-functional foundation.