Consolidate or Cooperate?
- By Hank Hewetson
- November 1st, 2000
Until recently, the Indiana University (IU) Physical Plant relied on a mainframe work order system that was developed in-house during the mid-1960s. We recognized the need not only to develop a replacement for the work order system, but also to integrate the existing manual, shadow and proprietary systems -- each containing redundant data -- for facility-related departments across all eight campuses. In May of 1993 we organized a brainstorming session. Thus, the gestation of the Facilities Infor-mation Management System (FIMS) began.
Although our stated goal was one software package that would integrate the MMS, CAD, CAFM and GIS, we quickly realized that individual systems that communicate data from the original source across all other systems were more practical than one integrated package. We also established property as the “key” field for sharing information across all campuses, 729 buildings, 25.5 million gross square feet and 3,500 acres. Here are the central features of each system.
MMS -- Maintenance Management System
System Goals. Our primary system goal was a common customer interface for work requests and feedback. Our secondary goal was to establish a single system that would eliminate shadow systems, redundant data and duplicate data entry, and to use source data from other institutional systems whenever possible. All data now reside in a single MMS database that serves all campuses but still supports individual business units as separate entities. The third goal was to provide cross-functional reporting and current, online reports. Finally, we wanted a system that was operational as close to 24x7 as possible.
Organizing for Implementation. Three teams guided implementation:
- Core Team: decision-making representatives from the 19 affected areas;
- “A” Team: a subset of six Core Team members who were primarily responsible for ensuring that implementation occurred; and
- Pilot Team: 22 Physical Plant employees who validated the standard operating procedures and field-tested the software.
“Enterprise” meetings included representatives from other facility-related departments. These meetings facilitated buy-in, and provided the opportunity to establish enterprise-naming standards and to establish roles for the enterprise and unit system administrators. Setting a target date for starting the production system added a sense of urgency and maintained the teams’ focus. We used a pilot system for testing and personnel training.
CAD/CAFM -- Computer-Assisted Design/ Computer Assisted Facilities Management
System goals. A cross-functional process team was organized in July 1994 to identify system goals. These included:
- develop a single set of base plans,
- create an archive of project files,
- link room inventory to CAD drawings, and
- make resources accessible to customers.
The CAD master library was planned to store only complete floor levels of the most recent final drawings. The archive was de-signed to hold a copy of all project files, full or partial, design or construction, funded or not. Standards were established and procedures implemented to maintain data integrity.
CAD is an electronic version of conventional paper-based plan books that depict IU’s space inventory. Standards for drawings, which will soon be the National CAD Standards, are followed by the 35 staffers who create and modify drawings that are used by an additional 150 staffers.
CAFM establishes linkages between CAD drawings and the database of room records. The CAD master library is the central repository that serves all eight campuses and supports graphic queries.
The facilities management Web customer environment is organized by categories of photographs, floor plans and reports. With a signed security agreement, customers can search for specific room inventory details, and view, print, zoom and navigate layers.
Indiana University now requires all design consultants and project contractors to provide CAD deliverables for use in facility management. A CAD drafting group, consisting of four drafters, works on digitizing existing sites with laptop computers and laser measuring instruments. For buildings not yet digitized, the group scans floor plans and saves them as tagged image format files for inclusion in the master library.
GIS -- Geographic Information System
GIS is similar in principle to the CAFM system, but the focus is on development of “intelligent” maps, which depict features of the real world as geographic layers. These layers are linked to databases that contain attributes about each feature. GIS technology integrates common database operations with spatially referenced maps.
GIS tools include the development of standards for layers, line types and thematic maps; the IU utility data model; establishment of update and dataflow procedures; standardized software; a community GPS base station and rover; and implementation of daily updates concerning basemap changes and sharing of technical information.
The global positioning system (GPS) enables us to provide a base station with centimeter level accuracy, aid for navigation back to utility assets/lines, quick and accurate field collection of data and GPS data available via a 24-hour Website. Digital GIS basemaps for all IU campuses are based on aerial photogrammetry at 1:400 scale, state plane projection. Web users can access Web-enabled GIS campus maps that zoom into a section of campus for more detail; zoom into or find a particular building by building address, name or number; see data about the building displayed beneath the map window; perform distancing; and print maps.
Listening, Not Telling
As we investigated options for replacing our current systems, we found that the first step is to identify stakeholders and determine their goals and objectives. Only then can plans be devised that begin to meet their goals. Further, implementation of these systems should not be viewed as a task that is completed. Rather, these systems require continual maintenance -- the addition of components and revision -- as they evolve toward workable systems.
Hank Hewetson is executive associate director of the Physical Plant; Scott Knapp is MMS administrator of the Physical Plant; Linda Michael is associate director of the Physical Plant; Julie Stines is assistant director of The Bureau of Facilities Programming and Utilization; and Theresa Thompson is manager of Graphic Information in the University Architect’s Office at Indiana University.