Facilities personnel responsible for building management play an important role in supporting building owner modernization goals: specifically, they are tasked with introducing and implementing technological innovation. A key challenge facing facilities managers, however, is how to achieve buy-in from executives for the funding of technology upgrade projects. The critical success factor for securing these funds is the ability of facilities personnel to communicate the functions of new technologies in terms that reflect either a reduction of business risk or an increase in business value. Miscommunications often result in budgets that are too small to accomplish all the work needed to achieve necessary facility improvements.
As an experienced building automation systems integrator and Schneider Electric master-level EcoXpert, our company Stark Tech Group recommends several tactics to help facilities managers ensure executive buy-in for upgrade projects:
- Partner with IT in order to leverage more flexible IT budgets – A strategy that we often suggest to our budget-constrained facilities clients, is to partner with their IT department to secure funding. Facilities systems today are more automated than ever and, in many cases, can be regarded as IT systems. Many of these facilities power, cooling, and access control systems are now linked to cloud interfaces and can justifiably be categorized as IT projects. IT funding mechanisms are more fluid than budgets surrounding traditional facilities projects. By partnering with IT for connectivity and network compliance of facilities systems, budgetary options can be expanded.
- Assess your facility’s ability to gather, interpret and act on physical infrastructure data – The ability to easily gather and analyze facilities data is another key that opens executive funding pocketbooks. Strategically, certain data within a building envelope can clearly indicate how to reduce operational energy costs. Monitoring data from low voltage equipment and power meters, building management systems, and HVAC equipment, can help to quantify performance and to calculate corresponding business impact. The ability to generate analytics places the discussion on the level of business value instead of arguing the technical merits of a system upgrade. Looking at the numbers provides an easy way to prioritize the investment and to place it on the executive budgeting radar screen. The data gathering and analysis exercise can be accomplished either internally or with outside help. This is where co-sourcing–working hand- in-hand with a systems integrator– can become an attractive option.
- Make it easy for C-level executives to decide in your favor by bucketing priorities – Executives speak the language of opportunity cost, cost avoidance, Net Present Value (NPV) and, beyond the financials, are very concerned with their building’s sustainability footprint. In order to catch their attention, place the highest priority building improvements into specific buckets to make it easy for executives to make the right investment decision. Those buckets should align to three investment consideration categories:
- Projects with low cost/payback within a year (projects that are quick and easy to implement),
- Projects that fall within the approved internal investment hurdle rate (the agreed on minimum rate of return, which is usually determined by the finance department) within a period of 3-5 years
- Projects representing deferred issues (this can include everything from dealing with serious internal human resource shortages due to retirements or replacing a 40-year old boiler that serves the critical side of a hospital).
Some of these issues threaten the business if they are not resolved. Many executives, once informed of these risk-based issues, act quickly to rectify the situation.
Open building automation architectures provide a future-proof investment
Building owners and portfolio managers focus on long-term investment strategies. They also face the growing challenge of recruiting new people with the necessary skills to manage their buildings in the new digital age. When facilities personnel recommend innovations that dovetail into the building’s longer-term strategic investment plan, executives pay attention. At Stark Tech Group, we support this strategic approach by recommending solutions based on open technology platforms, like Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure solutions, that allow for easy integration of facility technology systems at the intelligent device, edge control and software and analytics layers. In this way, we can offer both building owners and their facilities management staff future-proof solutions that create a basis for predictable long-term return on investment.
To learn more about how digitized building automation solutions enable modernization under an open platform, visit the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure web site.