Ever been asked that about yourself or your organization? Us too. I am constantly asked WHAT it is that our company does…and usually I regurgitate an elevator speech or fumble through a diatribe that puts the questioner to sleep. As inquisitive humans, we are constantly seeking to understand WHAT people, companies, churches, etc. do.
While that may be an important part of evaluating your need to engage with a service provider, organization or person, it should be the byproduct of a much more significant question. The “what” should be the expression of something much more significant and deeply rooted in the hearts and passion of those to whom the question is asked. There is a much more telling question that should be asked…
Why do you do what you do?
When consulting with our church clients, we strive to understand this question. We spend a significant amount of time and energy with our clients to explore this. And for them to just answer, “Because we love people and love God.” is not a sufficient answer. If that is your answer to WHY, then congratulations, you are a church…period. But WHY are you a church and WHY do you do things the way you do? That is where the rubber meets the road.
In his book, “Start With Why”, Simon Sinek makes a very compelling argument as to WHY must be the starting point for any organization. He says, “WHY: Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money – that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?”
That really challenged me.
He went on to use Apple as an example. He tells the story about how Apple and Creative Technology LTD both developed mp3 players. In fact, Apple did not invent the mp3 player or the technology that would ultimately become the iPod…Creative did. But there was a major difference as to how they told their story to the general public…which is tethered to their WHY. Creative touted that it had a “5GB mp3 player.” Think about that…in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, how many of us had the foggiest idea what “5GB” even meant. Creative made electronic gadgets…that is the WHAT that drove them. Conversely, Apple made the appeal that they would provide you with “1000 songs in your pocket.” Do you see the difference? Which is more compelling to you?
As with Apple, when communicating from the inside out, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHATs serve as the tangible proof of that belief. Apple’s development of the iPod…and so much more since…was driven by their desire to challenge the status quo. To think differently. They happen to make products that a beautiful and user-friendly…but that is the WHAT. WHAT organizations do are external factors, but WHY they do it is something deeper.
So…WHY does Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE do what we do? Many of you know what we do, but how many of you know WHY we do it? Not many I am sure. Some of you think of us as a church facility consulting, planning and project management firm. Many consider us to be a software company while others think of us as Facility Management professionals. But WHY…here is our WHY:
WHY = To assist organizations be effective, efficient and intentional with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.
That is what drives us and gets us out of bed. That is the under girding of everything we do. Period.
Now, WHAT is it that we do? We accomplish our WHY with the following WHATs:
- Intentional Workshops – These are intensive engagements to drill down into the vision, mission and DNA related to WHY they do WHAT they do and HOW they do it…then explore their physical facility needs and develop plans to assist them structure their facilities to serve as the TOOL needed to fulfill the vision.
- Facility Assessment – This consists of several facets related to life cycle planning, “Fresh Eyes” Assessments, Facility Management reviews and overall campus condition and efficiency.
- Project Facilitation – This is a process by which we partner with a church to serve as their “Owner’s Rep”/Project Manager during the pre-construction and construction phases of a facility expansion, renovation or building project.
- eSPACE – We offer “best in class” software solutions to help any organization with facilities be more effective and efficient. These include:
- Event/Facility Scheduler and Registration
- Work Order Management
- HVAC Integration (between the Event Scheduler and your HVAC systems)
So now you know the WHY and the WHAT. Let us know how we can assist you be efficient, effective and intentional!
If your church, school, civic group or organization does events where you want people to register or obtain free tickets…then you need to check this out!
In our pursuit of providing the best suite of facility related software applications, we have been working diligently to develop an Event Registration feature. Next to our COOL SPACE HVAC integration, this has been one of the most requested features from our subscribers and potential clients.
Well…the wait is over!!!
When considering options for enhancements, teams have to be diligent about vetting the right approach. In this case we looked at developing this feature from scratch…or should we partner. As we performed our extensive due diligence we had to ask ourselves – “Why recreate the wheel?” Why start from ground zero when you can partner with the world’s leading event registration and ticketing application? To us, this was obvious. What if we could take the incredible eSPACE application and integrate it with the leader in event registration…Eventbrite?
DUH!!! No brainer!!!
So that is exactly what we have done…here are some of the features of this incredible integration:
- Easy Setup
Our easy to use integration with Eventbrite will have your events published and out on the web in no time. Simply authorize your Eventbrite account (which is a free account) and eSPACE will automatically push out your events online when you approve them.
- Manage Off-Site Venues
Every venue and meeting space for your events can all be manage through eSPACE. Create/Edit/Update any and all venues and have them automatically updated in your Eventbrite account.
- Automatically Generates Tickets for your Registrants
Need tickets for your events? Now when you create an event in eSPACE you automatically get free ticketing included. Each registrant will automatically be sent their tickets immediately upon registration without any extra work from you! You can redeem the tickets at the door using the Eventbrite Neon App
- Need to update or cancel your event?
No problem. Now when you update a date/time of your event or cancel it completely in eSPACE, notifications are automatically sent to everyone registered keeping them informed of your changes!
- Publish your public events immediately on your public calendar
Want to publish your event on your eSPACE calendar with a sign up link? Now you can. This simple integration makes it easy to show an online registration link for the entire public.
2015 was an incredible year for the development team at eSPACE. The new set of features and product roll outs have been remarkable. Here are just a few of the enhancements that were rolled out in 2015:
- Added Event History – now you can see who, what and when events were modified
- Ability to Copy an Event – this saves so much time from having to re-enter data for a new event
- Ability to create Continuous Events (Multi-day events) that may span over several days
- New Calendar Filters to quickly filter by Room/Space, Category and/or Status
- Ability to color-code Categories – LOVE THIS ONE!!!!
- Added Locations which allows the ability to separate events and calendars at different physical locations
- Ability to list daily events in a RSS Feed (atom) for digital signage purposes – no more double entry!!!
What can we say…this is ALL NEW!!! This replaces our previous application (facilitEspace) with a brand new look, feel, speed, features, functionality and single login capability if you use both applications. If you have a facility and are intentional about its care and management, you have to check this out!
We have simplified the way of connecting our Event Scheduler with your HVAC systems. While there are a number of ways we have done this, we have refined the ability for organizations with a JACE as part of their controls package to add our JACE Driver with little to no additional hardware required. Now that is simple!
While our team enjoys looking back at 2015 and the great new features, the 2016 development list is even more exciting…check these out:
- Resource Tracking – Ever set-up an event and want to know how many tables are still available to reserve? Us too! Now you can. This has just been released!!!
- Event Registration – Integration with Eventbrite. Why recreate the wheel when you can partner with the best application on the market! This will be released this month!!!
- Easy Data IMPORT – If you use another calendar, like Event U or others, there will be a very simple means by which to import your data to eSPACE. Call to see if your application is included.
- Public Calendar Enhancements with advanced embed options and customization
- Event Costs & Invoicing – Create cost codes, associate costs to room/event rentals and generate invoicing
- Disable Conflicts at “Item” Level and not just at the Event Level
- Customization of Dashboard Views – Set your personal dashboard to only show what you want to see
- Ability to add Offsite & Private Events
- Ability to Block Out Dates/Times for facility closures (i.e. Holidays, conferences, special cleaning or repairs)
- Set Custom Dates for recurring events
- Add Multiple Categories so that an event can be associated with more than one category
- Enhanced Reports – More to come on this
- New Web-portal for general access – allow people to create a Work Request even without a login
- Ability to Add Images to Equipment
- Ability to Retire Equipment
- Customization of Dashboard Views – Set your personal dashboard to only show what you want to see. And…if you use both applications, set which one is your default view at login!
- Add Accounting Component to track costs of work performed
- Enhance System Alerts associated with past due or soon to be due work
- Calendar View of Preventive Maintenance items, similar to the one currently in the application for the Work Orders
- Integration with Other Event/Room Scheduling Applications – Currently, COOL SPACE only integrates with the eSPACE Event Scheduler. However, we are in test mode with other applications to provide a means by which this incredible tool can be interfaced with other applications. Contact us for more details.
- Integration with other Hardware Applications – We realize that not all facilities have a JACE, so we are exploring the possibility of interfacing with other hardware applications. This is a work-in-progress, so we would welcome your input.
As I am sure you will agree, these are exciting features. If you have a facility that you schedule, maintain, manage or pay the utility bills, you need to check out these great tools!
Welcome to Part 2 of our series exploring why using Facility Management Software for your facility is a smart move.
Last time we developed some “common language” to establish a baseline for our future discussions. The terms we defined were:
1. Work Requests
2. Work Order Process (a better term may actually be Work Order Management)
3. Scheduled Maintenance
4. Capital Improvement Needs
5. Vendor Management
6. Equipment Cataloging and Tracking
7. Inventory Tracking
So…why should your organization consider using some form of Work Order Management software or Facility Management software? Isn’t that just for big organizations with big facilities and big budgets and big staff and big _____ (you fill in the blank)?
If you have followed any of my past blogs, then you know that I have stated over and over that most organizations facilities are complex commercial structures. Even if your facility is less than 10,000 square feet, it is a commercial structure…and it is complex.
Regardless of the size of your facility, take a minute to answer the following questions:
1. Does your facility have more than one HVAC unit? If so, do you have more than 5 “tons” of cooling/heating capacity?
2. Does your facility have an electrical service that is larger than 400 amps?
3. Do you have paved parking spaces with a curb cut to a city, town, county, state or federal road?
4. Do you have an automatic fire sprinkler system?
5. Do you have a fire alarm system?
6. Do you have exit signs and emergency lights?
7. Do you have ceilings higher than 10 feet with light fixtures in those ceilings?
8. Is any part of your roof over 30 feet tall?
9. Do you have more than one water heater?
10. Is any part of your building made of steel/metal?
If you answered yes to 2 or more of the above questions, then you likely have a complex commercial structure and with that type of structure comes the need for scheduled maintenance, repairs, work orders, etc. In most cases, these tasks exceed the ability of the typical “residential” handyman. They need to be completed by skilled professionals in these trades…whether from inside your organization or not.
I can hear you saying….“OK…we agree with you in principle….but so what?”. Good question.
Well, let me start with 2 of the most obvious this week, and then address more next week.
1. BE INTENTIONAL: There is a quote that most of you have heard…but I believe it is so appropriate for this discussion...“People do not plan to fail, we fail to plan”. We do not plan to forget to change the HVAC filters or to clean the coils or to clean the carpet. However, without a plan, these things become lost in the hustle and bustle of the “urgent” items that tend to dictate our daily activities. When that happens, the low cost maintenance items evolve into higher cost repair issues if not addressed early. Having a proactive system that will serve as your “reminder” for these items will not only save you time, but assist you in being intentional with the care and maintenance of your facility…remember, these facilities were entrusted to your care.
2. CENTRAL DATA BASE/REPOSITORY: Do you have a spreadsheet here…a post-it note there…an e-mail requesting work be done…a legal pad full of ideas…your computer calendar with dozens of reminders? Unfortunately, this is more the norm than the exception. We met with a new client the other day who said “When all 4 of us involved in the care of our facility are together, we then have all the needed data”. So, what happens when only 2 of them are together…do they only have 50% of the needed data and information? We are hearing this line of irrational thinking over and over from organizations with tens, even hundreds, of thousands of SF. This “plague” of poor planning is an “equal opportunity” offender. Having a single source to input and store your facilities data is critical. You need to have a single secure place to store data, process work orders, track historical data, evaluate work requests and manage vendors….and it needs to be accessible to all the key players and stakeholders. Without this single repository, you will always be subject to missing critical data when you need it most.
There are a number of other critical issues to discuss…so join me next time…and please join in and provide some insights that may help all of our readers.
In an unscientific “survey” by Sam Rainer (my publisher and eldest son of Thom Rainer) and myself (ok…actually it was more of just a conversation and not a survey) we believe that over 99% of all churches meet in a facility. Some may be an owned facility…others rented…others may be schools or store fronts, while yet others are homes. In fact, if you have an Internet based church, your servers and other IT infrastructure are likely housed in a physical facility.
Based on the above, as well as the fact that we have deep convictions that everything on earth belongs to God, and as such we are stewards of what He has entrusted to us, we must look long and hard at the means and methods by which we steward the ministry facilities God has blessed us with.
Here are 3 intentional strategies for this stewardship initiative:
- Use them – God did not provide you with these assets and resources to have them sit idle for hours or days on end. Physical space was meant to be utilized to fulfill a cause…in the case of the church, to fulfill a vision and mission. Can you imagine developing an office building but only allowing occupants to use it one day a week? This responsibility must come with an intentional means by which to facilitate the use. How do you create opportunities for groups, inside and out, to have appropriate space from where to assembly?
- Financial Prudence – We see this strategy being 2 pronged. First, do not encumber your church (and its mission) with excessive debt. With that said, I am not a “no-debt” disciple, but I am a believer in prudence when it comes to appropriate debt and its impact on the ministry. Second is future financial planning. Are you setting monies aside for the life cycle impacts of facility ownership? If you are not retaining $1-2/square foot annually in a capital reserve account, you will find yourself falling woefully short when the HVAC system needs replaced or the roof has aged out. A capital reserve fund is NOT a raining day fund. These are real costs that you will incur. Period!
- Care for them – Over a 40 year life cycle of a building, the cost of operations will likely exceed 70% of the total cost of ownership. When you couple the cost of construction, interest and operations (utilities, general maintenance, housekeeping/janitorial, etc) the cost of interest and construction pale in comparison to the cost of operations. If you spend $4M to construction a building, you will likely spend over $13M to operate it within that 40 year period…WOW…that is a huge responsibility!
That is a lot to take in, but we some great news!!!
eSPACE has just release a new (and affordable) software application to assist you be intentional…effective…and efficient in these areas.
Image an application that includes:
> Inventory Management – Track what you have in stock
> User Portal for ease of requesting Work Orders
> Calendar view of Work Orders
> Document Library
> Robust Report Builder
> Unlimited Users Included with Advanced Packages
> Responsive Design/Mobile Friendly
> Fully configurable
If you have a facility and are intentional about stewarding what has been entrusted to you…you owe it to yourself to check out this new application HERE.
In an article published by Corrigo Inc, who specializes in work order and time tracking solutions, they shared the findings of a survey of the Top 5 Facilities Management Challenges based on a survey they conducted of over 1,200 organization. Here is a summary of their report…with a little commentary from me:
- CHALLENGE #5: Vendor Management: Allocating work to the right vendors
A major trend from previous surveys was the issue of outsourcing. While this topic has not gone away, it is not the driver behind operational change.
Summary From Survey: Improved vendor management increases the control you have over your operations, and by implementing price controls, can reduce your costs.
What Facility Managers are Doing:
• Making vendor decisions based on performance feedback
• Recording and comparing information on vendor pricing
• Maintaining searchable records of vendor certifications
Conclusion for Challenge #5: There are a lot of details to address when considering vendors and the real cost of using outside vendors as well as staff resources…and be vigilant about the insurance.
- CHALLENGE #4: Making changes without having enough reliable data
Approximately 30% of survey respondents considered the capturing of reliable data as one of the top two pressing needs in their organizations.
Summary From Survey: Capturing and then making use of the information associated with all your service and maintenance work equips you to make informed and effective business decisions.
What Facility Managers are Doing:
• Comparing spending trends across their organization
• Using historical repair data to inform new equipment and warranty purchase decisions
• Monitoring real time progress on important repair work
Conclusion for challenge #4: Historical and real-time data is critical for our ministry facilities. Develop or buy a system that can track this kind of data, or partner with someone that can do this for you. An Excel spreadsheet will most likely not work unless you have a very small facility.
- CHALLENGE #3: Getting more work done with fewer resources
One factor contributing to the increased burden on facility management teams is the reduction in their company’s field technician staffing. This may seem counter-intuitive, but as budget cuts move more work to vendors, the burden of vendor recruitment, selection and management falls to the facility management organization.
Summary From Survey: Doing more with fewer resources is not a temporary situation. To succeed in this environment, you need tools that extend your reach and productivity.
What Facility Managers are Doing:
• Moving away from ad hoc communications by phone, fax and email
• Sharing a common platform with their staff and vendors to process work requests electronically
• Automating vendor tracking/assignments via intelligent systems
Conclusion for Challenge #3: Develop, buy or subscribe to a system that allows you to communicate with your vendors (not as the only form of communication) and tracks their ETA, pricing, PM work and other work order management.
- CHALLENGE #2: Finding ways to extend the life of existing assets.
It’s not just operational budgets that are being squeezed – capital expenditures are down substantially, and that translates into keeping existing equipment and assets up and running longer.
Summary From Survey: Spending the right amount on preventative maintenance and being able to back up that decision with accurate data can turn a facility manager into a cost saving hero.
What Facility Managers are Doing:
• Comparing preventative vs. repair costs on all asset types and adjusting PM spending accordingly
• Using accumulated repair data to implement intelligent, PM schedules
• Applying proactive maintenance on mission critical equipment
Conclusion for Challenge #2: Preventive Maintenance, rather than corrective repairs, is a far better approach to caring for the resources God has entrusted to us.
- CHALLENGE #1: SAVING MONEY
#1 for from this survey was, without a doubt, saving money. When asked how they would like to accomplish this objective, the responses of facility managers tended to be grouped into one of three general categories:
- Call avoidance
- Warranty work management
- Price control
Summary From Survey: Facility Management may be considered a cost center, but it also holds tremendous potential to impact a company’s profitability. A dollar saved by a facility management team goes directly to the bottom line. Which is why cost savings is the bottom line concern for facility management professionals.
What Facility Managers are Doing:
• Avoiding unnecessary repair costs through client self-help systems and knowledge bases
• Flagging all assets and equipment under warranty to prevent unnecessary payment
• Establishing and monitoring not-to-exceed pricing agreements with vendors
Conclusion for Challenge #1: I believe that in today’s economy (frankly it should be in EVERY economy because we are stewards of something that does not belong to us) we are looking for ways to save money. Sometimes we cannot see the obvious items that will allow us to be more efficient and effective. The principles addressed in this article are right in front of us.
Are you still using a paper calendar to schedule events and rooms at your facility?
When we developed eSPACE, our team thought for sure that our biggest competition was going to be the large scheduling systems. However, over 50% of our net new partnering opportunities are from organizations that still use a paper calendar, wall calendar, or sundial (just kidding about that last one).
Some have graduated to an “electronic” based tool like Excel, Outlook or Google Calendar (quasi schedulers). While that is a step in the right direction, you may still be functioning in the Dark Ages compared to how proactive organizations manage the use of their facilities and what solutions are available to assist you. Many of our clients and churches and we have learned that that not every facility opens their doors on just Sunday AM, Sunday PM and Wednesday nights and nearly every organization has a slightly different schedule. The more diverse your organization, the more likely the complexity of space utilization is magnified.
In order for you to meet the demands of your organization, you need to re-think how you schedule your facilities/events and what tools must be incorporated into your systems and processes. Don’t fall slave to the dreaded “7 words of a dying organization” (you know – We Have Always Done It This Way)…there are better ways to schedule your facility…and it won’t break the bank.
Here are 10 reasons why it may be time for a change:
1. A cloud-based calendar can be accessed anytime, anywhere. The cloud is here to stay…embrace it.
2. Identify and manage scheduling conflicts…this is so critical and is a key component that paper schedulers and “quasi” scheduler can not provide.
3. Team members and stakeholders can view a calendar of activities in the facility in real time.
4. The organization determines who “controls” and has access to the calendar.
5. Event requests go through an approval process before being finalized on the calendar.
6. Avoid two groups needing the same space at the same time. Nothing worse than double booked spaces.
7. Intentionally plan events to ensure all necessities are available for the event and already placed in the appropriate part of the facility (tables, chairs, sound system, child care, etc).
8. Push the responsibilities to request events and determine the spaces, resources and services by those who need the space and not just a single contact person. The day of the “gate keeper” is quickly passing us by.
9. Empower staff, team members and leaders to resolve their own scheduling conflicts before “the boss” has to get involved.
10. Reduce the duplication of entry…let your scheduling software also populate your website calendar(s) so you only have to enter data once.
BONUS: The right scheduling solution can also schedule your HVAC systems!!! Wouldn’t that be nice?
Now…those are just the top 10 (and a bonus)…we assure you there are many more.
What do you have to lose?????
Any organization can shout from the mountain tops how great they think they are…but the real proof is what their clients say about their experience. Here are just a few things people are saying about eSPACE:
With rare exception, church facilities are a tool God has entrusted to us to steward. Part of stewarding is the utilization and use of these facilities. If your facility is only used on the weekend, I would question the need to have a facility at all. If all you need is a place to meet on Saturday or Sunday, then why invest so many Kingdom Resources to construction and maintenance of a physical structure.
Buildings were meant to be used. And as such, their use must be properly planned and coordinated. Have you ever shown up for a meeting, not just at your church facility, and learned that another group was also planning to meet in the same space? Awkward!
So, why should your church implement the use of facility and event scheduling software? What are the real benefits? Won’t Google Calendar, Outlook or the endangered paper wall calendar suffice?
In 2008, Cool Solutions Group developed its first SaaS software applications. The first released application was called MINISTReSPACE, which was a room and event scheduling software, and the second entitled FACILITeSPACE geared toward work order and facility management.