Facility Self-Assessment: Insights from Our Customers

By Susan Irving, Director of Strategic Marketing

With the recent release of VFA.auditor Mobile™ 4.0, our guided self-assessment solution, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with some of our VFA.auditor customers about their experiences with the product. They discussed the when, why and how of using VFA.auditor – and shared some best practices for taking a self-assessment approach for facility conditions.

Why Self-Assess?
Self-sufficiency, avoiding over- or under-spending on condition data collection, and the need to have up-to-date, reliable data are the most mentioned reasons. For some, self-assessment is a first step to prioritize which facilities to target with a full facility condition assessment. For others, this is their primary approach to get condition data.

Self-Assessment Challenges: Process and Staff Bandwidth
If facility self-assessment is new for an organization, questions about process and staff allocation need to be addressed from the outset.
From a process perspective, a game plan that lays out data collection strategies will ensure consistency and reliability. For example, will staff be assigned surveys by building or trade? Is everyone aligned on the level of data to collect? What’s the expected frequency of data collection?

Staff bandwidth can also be a challenge. Organizations new to self-assessment need to secure staff commitments at the start to ensure the process is successful. Establishing a self-assessment process lets facility teams achieve real productivity gains with VFA.auditor, which can free up staff time.

Notes from the Field: What’s Working and Why
Organizations are combining local staff knowledge with the survey-driven content in VFA.auditor to generate solid insight into building conditions. Facility personnel become more connected to the capital planning process and have an opportunity to learn more about their buildings. Self-sufficiency is also reinforced. Organizations have the flexibility to assess as it fits their schedule.

When compared to a self-assessment without VFA.auditor, the data gathered using VFA.auditor is more consistent and reliable. The survey-driven guidance and pre-populated expert content ensure that the assessing team is prepared to get data in a consistent manner. Built-in work-flow and survey approvals help ensure data reliability.

Productivity gains are also significant. For example, one customer assessed four times as many square feet after switching from a manual process to VFA.auditor. Because VFA.auditor is integrated with VFA.facility®, much of the gain came from greatly reducing time in the office manually entering data.

VFA.auditor Mobile users report greater ability to make real-time decisions. Once a survey is approved, the data is wirelessly synchronized with VFA.facility for faster analysis. In addition, the mobile self-assessment process is proving to be faster than a paper-based approach.

Quicker adoption and increased frequency of use is also reported with VFA.auditor Mobile. Training is easier because VFA.auditor Mobile has the familiar look and feel of Tablets in widespread use today (iPads and Androids).

Lessons from VFA.auditor Customers
Start with a program and a game plan that aligns a self-assessment approach with how you plan for your facilities. If possible, learn from others to see where you may have gaps. The people who do the assessments don’t need to be experts but should have enough sense of general building construction to ask the right questions.

If you are considering transitioning to VFA.auditor Mobile, make sure that you have an effective self-assessment process planned or in place. Converting to mobile is easier if the program is nailed down. Using mobile software also offers some real opportunity for process improvement. Be creative and continue to look for ways to use the inherent advantages of mobile for your organization.

If you have questions, please contact Susan Irving at sirving@vfa.com.