Connected-Services Technology (CST)
How the latest technology platforms are helping retailers to increase efficiencies while driving down costs.
Facilities management has long conjured up thoughts of scrubbing toilets and fixing air conditioning units. And while those services will always be needed, the way in which they’re being delivered to retail properties is receiving a full overhaul. The latest technology platforms are helping retail chain building owners and facility managers to increase efficiencies while driving down costs.
A traditional facilities management workflow often leaves facility managers with costly paper processes, inefficient communication between parties, no real-time monitoring or reporting, no data aggregation and inadequate audit trails. But a more centralized approach has been developed to eliminate these concerns, reducing costs by 4% to 8%.
Streamlining the facilities management process with the use of leading-edge technology is taking the industry into a new age. The integration of all facilities management services and providers through a web-based solution now allows staff to respond quickly and accurately to facility maintenance, repair and operational service events across an entire portfolio of retail properties.
These types of solutions start with cloud environment platforms. Such platforms provide retail chains with a single point of communication to better manage vendors throughout all store locations, delivering immediate access to all service information, as well as vastly improving document organization and customized reports.
Retail facility managers benefit from drastically increased control over their operations with cloud environment platforms. The platforms allow facility managers to monitor all their services in real time, at all retail properties with one point of contact. It also allows them to place and track service requests by phone, fax, email and mobile phone. Proactive alerts can be received via email, increasing facilities management operations to 24/7. Facility managers are also able to track assets and service history, verify call completion and coordinate all vendors and trades. They can now even determine levels of client satisfaction, through such tools as satisfaction feedback surveys, monitoring and reporting.
This cloud technology is also assisting facility managers with important measures such as legal compliance and budget certainty. Vendor management is simplified, and contractor licensing, risk management, insurance and tax issues are all streamlined. Procurement and invoices are also standardized, ensuring compliance and reducing erroneous dispatches.
The coordination created from this cloud technology benefits the retail facilities management process significantly. It visibly reduces operating costs by eliminating duplicate administrative processing, and increases quality control by regulating the inspection process. On average, such a cloud solution can reduce cost of recurring and preventative maintenance services by 5% to 8%. Time and materials can be reduced by 4% to 6%. Efficiencies created for the vendor approval process, consolidated billing, and operational and reporting can also result in savings of 4% to 6% of a retailer’s total budget.
Not only does this cloud solution create organizational cohesiveness for facility managers, it also creates further savings through enabling the sharing of tangible resources. For instance, rather than purchasing software rights for several computers, the cloud solution allows users to purchase software as a service (SaaS) and share it over the web. Retailers can also now share infrastructure through the web, called platform as a service (PaaS). This can mean considerable hard and soft cost savings, sometimes as much as 8% to 13%, throughout multiple departments within their organization.
In order to maximize the benefits this technology can provide, it is important that retail facility managers are able to fully utilize it. It is also key for the facility manager to work with a cloud environment platform provider who understands the unique needs of the retail facilities management industry. Retail chains should seek facilities management partners who can leverage the value of this technology. Putting into place the right facilities management provider with the right technology provider will ensure that retail operations are running at full potential, with increased efficiencies and decreased costs.
— Chad MacDonald is president and CEO of Connected-Services Technology (CST). The author may be reached at [email protected].