Document Management For Facility Managers- Part 1- The Challenges

Unique Document Management Challenges for Facility Departments

Document Management is a big challenge for Facility Managers:

  • Long retention periods
  • Large-format documents are cumbersome
  • Multiple versions of the same document
  • Staff turn-over
  • Documents are far from the job sites
  • Life Safety Risks

Long Retention Periods
The document retention period for facility documents is much longer than most other industries. In fact, The majority of building-related documents need to be retained throughout the life of the building. Therefore, depending on the age of the structure, documents must be kept for decades. Even if extensive above ground renovations may have happened, often the below ground infrastructure remains the same as when the building was built; and the only way to know about such information is by reviewing the original building construction documents.

Large-Format Documents
Another document management challenge in the facility management industry is the size of the documents. Blueprints and drawings are very difficult to manage and store. They take up a lot of space! They are also very hard to file, organize, and locate when needed. Plan rooms usually have between 30-50% in duplications and superseded sets. It can often take a lot of time to locate a particular set of drawings when needed for a repair, or in an emergency.

Outdated Documents
Facility documents are not static documents. They are working documents. Changes are constantly being made to buildings and campuses. If detailed notes are not kept, problems can arise in the future. Red line and As-Built drawings are usually the most valuable documents in a facility manager’s possession. It is necessary to know which documents are the most current and up-to-date. Costly mistakes can be made when working from an outdated version of a project.During renovation projects, many change orders occur when information is lost or outdated. These can be extremely costly mistakes.

Staff Turn-Over and Loss of Institutional Knowledge
A huge challenge for facility management is staff turn-over. Gone are the days when you have maintenance and engineering staff who stay at one facility their entire careers. The institutional knowledge of how the buildings are built, the changes over the years, and the quirks of each space are often lost when key staff members retire or leave. It is a huge challenge for the next person who takes the position because they do not know what information exists, where to find it, or who to ask. Big mistakes can occur when a facility is being run blind.

Vivica Williams

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