Budgets have been getting tighter across the board, and this is especially felt within facilities management in Higher Education. Every dollar is being squeezed. Each penny is being pinched. Funding for renovations, repairs, and maintenance has been waning over the years. To successfully weather such an environment, higher education facility managers have to adapt.

And how are they doing that? By being proactive.

How can I be proactive?

There are three main capabilities that result in proactive facilities management:

Leverage facility resources. Nobody knows your buildings better than your facility teams. Using them to gather facility condition data lets you bring their knowledge to the fore.

Standardize the data. It’s critical to standardize the data as it’s collected. This makes it easier to compare facility conditions, identify problems within your campus, and prioritize projects.

Have your data available. Having facility condition information readily available in a centralized online database allows you to make on-the-spot, informed decisions. If and when you have to deal with changes like funding cuts or an emergency, then you can re-prioritize and allocate budget accordingly.

How can facility self-assessment help me to be more proactive?

auditor

Facility self-assessment using VFA.auditor offers the key capabilities of proactive facilities management. VFA.auditor facilitates the rapid capture of facility data so that it’s up-to-date. Users are guided through a standardized process for all assessments so that results are comparable. Finally, mobile data collection using VFA.Auditor on an iPad® or Android™ tablet significantly reduces the time needed for error-prone manual data entry, giving your team more time to spend in the field.

Charles Grimm, property inspector/assessor supervisor at James Madison University, had this to say about assessing facilities with VFA.auditor:

“Using VFA.auditor allows us to get ‘shop’ buy-in, and to involve those who know the facilities well.” JMU’s use of VFA.auditor has reduced office time from two weeks to two days, and the facilities team has surveyed four times more square feet.

 

Want more information on VFA.Auditor? Check out the product page.

Higher Education Benefits from Self-Assessment Programs by Empowering Facility Staff, Standardizing Data Collection Process

BOSTON—July 30, 2013—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced that North American universities and colleges have been successfully deploying its facility self-assessment solution, VFA.auditor®, as a tool to gather facility condition data, enabling self-sufficient facility teams to stay on top of pressing issues and maintain an accurate database of information.

VFA.auditor offers facility managers an efficient and cost-effective way to keep facility condition data up-to-date, identify trouble areas or capture information across the portfolio. The software provides users with surveys to rapidly collect data about the condition of facilities and major building systems. With more than 600 professionally engineered and designed systems included in the survey library, VFA.auditor guides and standardizes the collection of facility condition data. Consistent data collection leads to less “stale” data and defensible budget requests, as well as the validation that previously captured deficiencies have been addressed.

Dennis Gillis, P.E., assistant director of planning at Dalhousie University, observed the challenges that come with a lack of insight into building condition. “Before VFA.auditor, if we weren’t actively doing work on or in a building, we had no insight into the condition of the building since its last assessment,” he said. “Only the buildings with active projects had updated information, even though the condition of non-targeted buildings was still changing. Questions from management were difficult to answer because we had to acknowledge that reports were based on outdated data. VFA.auditor has enabled my team and our management to regain confidence in the data.”

Marco Benitez, director of analysis, assessment and risk management at Florida International University, is an advocate of ensuring that upper management understands the benefits of a strategic facilities capital planning program. “They will see the value of being able to call you and get an accurate answer in a timely manner because data is current and available,” he said.

At James Madison University, Charles Grimm, property inspector/assessor supervisor, has seen the benefits of VFA.auditor for his staff. For example, when a facility employee leaves, he is able to use other staff members who can follow the embedded process in VFA.auditor. Grimm observes, “Using VFA.auditor allows us to get ‘shop’ buy-in, and to involve those who know the facilities well.”  JMU’s use of VFA.auditor Mobile™ has reduced office time from two weeks to two days, and the facility team has surveyed four times more square feet.

VFA.auditor Mobile supports the flexibility and versatility of condition data collection using mobile tablets. Designed to work across multiple mobile platforms including iPad, Android and Windows tablets, mobile surveys speed data collection by providing a secure, offline means of data capture. Surveys can be created and assigned to facility staff that can check-out the surveys to a mobile tablet and walk the facility easily collecting data.

“Higher education facility departments are looking for the right approach to obtain and maintain current facility condition data—one that meets their needs and budgets,” said Jerry Kokos, president and CEO, VFA. “When budgets are tight, facility managers need to effectively manage their campus facilities and make smarter capital planning decisions. Yet, it is challenging to prioritize capital projects with incomplete, inaccessible or dated facilities condition information. VFA.auditor is transforming the way facility managers are managing their capital investments.”

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Facilities Division Honored for Ground-breaking Work in Sustainability

BOSTON—July 25, 2013—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced that longtime client Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Facilities Division received the Platinum Award of Excellence in Facilities Management from Global FM.

The Global FM Awards for Excellence recognize the best of the best in facilities management, highlighting a range of innovative practices, improvements and sustainable projects undertaken by facility management professionals over the past year.

Berkeley Lab, a leading research center for environmental studies, nanoscience, quantitative biology, physics and nuclear energy, consists of 107 buildings across 203 acres. Such a large and complex facility calls for a multifaceted approach to green building practices. Berkeley Lab has taken a systematic look at its buildings in order to comply with government sustainability mandates, including Executive Order 13423 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Berkeley Lab transformed this challenge into an opportunity to implement a comprehensive integrated facilities assessment, analysis, planning, work execution, and reporting system. The Facilities Division developed an effective and efficient way to critically evaluate facility sustainability and identify cost-effective measures to support its ability to meet mandate requirements, by combining standard facility condition assessments with comprehensive green building assessments in partnership with VFA. The Department of Energy has recognized Berkeley Lab for developing a best-practice integrated facilities management solution.

“Berkeley Lab has a distinguished history as a global center for great science,” said Ken Fletcher, deputy director, Facilities Division, Berkeley Lab. “We have leveraged this strength, along with employee participation and the desire to be a good neighbor, to design sustainable new buildings and take careful stock of older structures to improve energy consumption, lightening the impact on the environment and on the surrounding community.”

“The recognition that the team at Berkeley Lab receives with this prestigious award is much deserved,” said Jerry Kokos, president and CEO, VFA, Inc. “As one of our most innovative clients, it continues to set the bar for other organizations in its approach to proactive facilities management.”

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.

About Global FM

Global FM is an international not-for-profit organisation based in Brussels, Belgium. It represents a worldwide community of organisations that provide leadership in facilities management. Global FM’s vision is to achieve Global recognition of facilities management profession and its mission is to promote the strategic value and progress of the facilities management profession by leveraging the Global FM member associations’ strength, knowledge and experience. For more information, visit www.globalfm.org.

Auditor Asset Photos1. Go mobile to save time.

Using VFA.auditor® on mobile tablets gives you Wifi connectivity, photo management, and a mobile-optimized survey interface.  Data automatically syncs with the VFA.facility® database – no more wasting time with data entry!

2. Standardize data for all buildings.

Hospitals and healthcare systems often have clinics or other outlying buildings – standardize the data you gather across all different types of facilities.

3. Empower your staff.

Leverage existing staff to gather data, using their knowledge of facilities combined with the patented expert guidance and process in VFA.auditor.

4. Make better decisions.

With current, accurate data, you can make better decisions about what deferred maintenance projects to do first, and see the impact that various funding levels will have on facility condition.

Funding FCI Graph

Funding and FCI Graph Screenshot

5. Provide data on demand.

Be ready when executives ask for reports, cost estimates, and budget scenarios.
VFA Facility Dashboard

Asset Portfolio Dashboard

Visit VFA at the ASHE Annual Conference today to see a demo of VFA.auditor – see how a self-assessment program could benefit you.

Corporate Engineering Director Donald Paschal to Discuss the Use of Defensible Data to Make the Case for Facility Funding

BOSTON—July 19, 2013—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced that VFA client Orlando Health will be a guest speaker at the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) Annual Conference, July 21-24, 2013, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. VFA will be exhibiting in Booth #834.

Donald Paschal, director of corporate engineering at Orlando Health, will present “Using Defensible Data to Make the Case for Facility Funding” on Monday, July 22, at 3:15 p.m. Orlando Health found that they lacked empirical data on the condition of facilities and systems, creating a barrier in strategic decision-making that made it difficult to secure adequate annual funding for deferred maintenance and renewal projects. Paschal will provide insight into the health care network’s approach to central management of facility condition data, deferred maintenance requirements and the need for capital renewals.

Visitors to the VFA booth can also see a demo of its patented facility self-assessment solution, VFA.auditor®. VFA.auditor provides users with an extensive collection of intelligent surveys to rapidly and consistently collect data about the condition of facilities and major building systems using standard tablets and other mobile devices. With more than 600 systems included in the professionally engineered and designed survey library, VFA.auditor guides and standardizes the process of collecting and updating facility data.

Current and objective facility condition data provides healthcare organizations with the ability to create effective long-term capital plans, projects and budgets. VFA has provided data and insight into the condition of over a thousand healthcare facilities, enabling them to manage risk, reduce deferred maintenance, positively impact the patient experience, and better serve the overall organizational mission.

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.

 

VFA will be exhibiting at this year’s American Society of Healthcare Engineers (ASHE) Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia on July 21 to July 24, 2013. ASHE will be celebrating their 50th anniversary and we are looking forward to the chance to meet with thought leaders and discuss how to adapt to changes in healthcare direction and policies while continuing to advance facility management. It is a diverse networking opportunity with speakers from all aspects of the health care facilities industry that provide stimulating discussion and fresh ideas on building efficiency, operations, technology, and safety.

On Monday, July 22 at 3:15 pm, Don Paschal, CPMM, CHFM, LEED AP, Director of Corporate Engineering for Orlando Health will be presenting “Using Defensible Data to Make the Case for Facility Funding.” Orlando Health found that they lacked empirical data on the condition of facilities and systems, creating a barrier in strategic facilities capital planning that made it difficult to secure adequate annual funding for deferred maintenance and renewal projects. Don will provide insight into the health care network’s approach to central management of facility condition data, deferred maintenance requirements and the need for capital renewals.

Current and objective facility condition data provides healthcare organizations with the ability to create effective long-term capital plans, projects and budgets. VFA has provided data and insight into the condition of over a thousand healthcare facilities, enabling them to manage risk, reduce deferred maintenance, positively impact the patient experience, and better serve the overall healthcare mission.

Stop by our booth #834 to learn how to make your own case for facility funding and of-the-moment solutions for effective capital planning!

 

Boston Business Journal

BOSTON—July 16, 2013—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced that BUILDINGS magazine has selected VFA’s patented facility self-assessment solution, VFA.auditor®, as a 2013 Money-Saving Product winner. VFA.auditor is part of an elite group of 53 products showcased in the magazine’s June 2013 issue.

Finalists were evaluated by the BUILDINGS editorial staff for the money-saving qualities they offer to building owners and facility managers in areas such as energy consumption, water savings, lighting, envelope improvement and maintenance.

Facility managers using VFA.auditor follow a standardized data collection process that provides an efficient, consistent methodology for gathering information about facility conditions and deferred maintenance requirements. With more than 600 professionally engineered and designed systems included in the survey library, VFA.auditor enables organizations to utilize existing staff for condition assessments and leverages mobile technology for increased efficiency and accuracy.

“We are  pleased that VFA.auditor has been recognized as a Money-Saving Product winner by BUILDINGS magazine,” said Jerry Kokos, president and CEO, VFA, Inc. “Faced with the challenge of developing defensible budget requests, facility managers need accurate, current facility condition data for analysis and decision-making.  VFA.auditor is a cost-effective solution based on patented technology that empowers facility staff.”

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.

We are excited to announce that VFA has been granted two patents for our intelligent, mobile-enabled facility condition data collection process and software for the purpose of creating and maintaining a facilities capital plan. Read the full press release here.

Our patented solution, VFA.auditor®, combines mobile power, including iPads® and Androids™, with our extensive facilities assessment experience, so that our clients and partners can utilize their own resources to quickly and affordably assess their buildings and systems.

VFA.auditor users have quadrupled their assessment productivity and reduced office time from two weeks to two days! Here’s what some of them are saying about VFA.auditor:

“Our staff’s use of VFA.auditor results in a frequent, consistent data flow, and keeps the data more accurate and up to date. In addition, by using a standard process and data format, the data is consistent throughout no matter who captures the information, a benefit given staff turnover and the constantly changing airport environment.”
William Pharris, senior facility assets manager, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

“Assessing a few buildings a week, using the guided process within VFA.auditor, and building the database over time has helped our team to strategically manage the company’s second largest investment – our facilities – more quickly and cost-effectively than ever before.”
Chris Anderson, senior manager, Black Hills Corporation

As a technology company, we’re thrilled about the patents, and even more pleased that we’re solving the real-world problems faced by facility managers.

Recognizes VFA’s Game-Changing, Proven Mobile Technologies and Intelligent Processes that Simplify Creation and Maintenance of Facilities Capital Plans

BOSTON—July 10, 2013—VFA, Inc., the leading provider of end-to-end solutions for facilities capital planning and asset management, today announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the issuance of U.S. Patents 8,428,994 and 8,433,600 for the company’s system and method for collecting facility condition data. These patents recognize VFA’s intelligent, mobile-enabled facility condition data collection process and software for the purpose of creating and maintaining a facilities capital plan.

Collecting and maintaining facility condition data poses a cost and manpower challenge for many organizations. VFA’s patented solution, VFA.auditor®, combines the power of mobile technologies, including the iPad® and Android™ tablet, with the company’s extensive facilities assessment experience, enabling VFA customers and partners to utilize their own resources to quickly and cost-effectively assess their buildings and systems. VFA.auditor users have quadrupled their assessment productivity and reduced office time from two weeks to two days.

VFA.auditor provides users with an extensive collection of intelligent surveys to rapidly and consistently collect data about the condition of facilities and major building systems using standard tablets and other mobile devices. With more than 600 systems included in the professionally engineered and designed survey library, VFA.auditor guides and standardizes the process of collecting and updating facility data. VFA.auditor is in use at dozens of public and private organizations in the US and Canada.

Beneficial features of the VFA.auditor patents include:

• A model-driven approach: the power of cumulative years of VFA assessor experience is built into VFA.auditor, which enables users to leverage that facility expertise to produce high quality results.

• VFA.auditor surveys walk users through the steps, creating a process for effective self-assessment and/or re-assessment.

• VFA.auditor populates facility condition assessment data from the surveys to a centralized repository, the VFA.facility® capital planning database, for analysis and decision-making.

• Mobility streamlines the facility assessment process by eliminating redundant data entry and offline data access.

“VFA was first-to-market with a new system to help our customers and partners quickly and cost-effectively gather and maintain accurate building condition data,” said Jerry Kokos, president and CEO, VFA, Inc. “These patents are an independent validation of our innovation and leadership in enabling organizations to better manage their facilities. We’re proud of the process and technology we developed and the adoption it has achieved in the marketplace.”

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport serving more than 95 million passengers a year, has deployed VFA.auditor as part of a self-assessment program. “Our staff’s use of VFA.auditor results in a frequent, consistent data flow, and keeps the data more accurate and up to date,” said William Pharris, senior facility assets manager, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “In addition, by using a standard process and data format, the data is consistent throughout no matter who captures the information, a benefit given staff turnover and the constantly changing airport environment.”

At Black Hills Corporation, a diversified energy company based in South Dakota, facilities managers use VFA.auditor to collect facility condition data for long-term budget forecasts. “Assessing a few buildings a week, using the guided process within VFA.auditor, and building the database over time has helped our team to strategically manage the company’s second largest investment – our facilities – more quickly and cost-effectively than ever before,” said Chris Anderson, senior manager, Black Hills Corporation.

To connect with VFA, please follow us on Twitter at @VFAINC, or visit our blog, Foundations, which provides information to readers that serves as a foundation for intelligent facilities capital planning and management.