Vital Statistics
Great American Insurance Company
Cincinnati, Ohio
Facilities Facts:
5,000 employees, 1.8 million square feet under lease, representing 133 leases in 100 buildings located mainly in the US.
ARCHIBUS Applications:
Real Property & Lease Management, Strategic Master Planning, Space Management, Overlay with Design Management for AutoCAD and Revit, Telecommunications & Cable Management, Web Central®
3rd Party Applications:
Autodesk AutoCAD®, PeopleSoft®, Yardi® Systems
Reasons for Implementing:
Limitations of Excel and Access-based systems for tracking space allocation and utilization. Need for better integration with AutoCAD. Easier analysis of vacancy/lease data.
Benefits Gained:
Savings of $417,000 in first year from better space allocation and consolidation of rented space. Tight integration with AutoCAD drawings. Improved, workforce search capabilities, advanced mapping, more complete telecom inventories.
Business Partner:
GBBN Architects
Web Site:
The #1 Solution in the World for
Total Infrastructure and Facilities Management

Great American Insurance Company:
Putting a Premium on
Successful Space Management

Founded in 1872 as the German American Insurance Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, Great American Insurance Company is one of the Top 20 insurance companies in the United States with a focus on annuities, life insurance, supplemental health insurance, and specialty insurance products.

More recently, its real estate department has added another specialty to the company's list of innovative business practices: state-of-the-art space management.

With 5,000 employees and 1.8 million square feet under lease, representing 133 leases in 100 buildings located mainly in the US, the company had more space than insight into how it was being used several years ago. Great American realized that cost-effectively managing its properties and their use—not to mention easily integrating with their AutoCAD® system—was beyond the capabilities of the software it had been using.

The search for a space management solution eventually led Great American to ARCHIBUS. And substantial savings.

Up From Excel

Great American's space management efforts were limited by a people-on-board (POB) method of calculating space chargebacks that was in place until 1997, says Jeffrey Paul, the company's Real Estate Manager. A drawback of the POB method was that space charges were assigned by headcount rather than being calculated on a group's actual space usage. If a group lost headcount, or moved out of a location altogether, space costs could be shifted to the remaining groups.

Keeping track of space allocation and charges, plus personnel, was made even more challenging by the company's 26% annual churn rate, not to mention Human Resources' inability during that period to keep real-time headcounts or location information on individuals.

The POB system also wasn't designed to take space utilization into account, which left the company unable to understand how much real estate was occupied by files, equipment, and other items.

The POB system's reign was followed by several years of using Excel spreadsheets to calculate space allocation data contained in AutoCAD drawings. The spreadsheets, however, turned out to be long, and difficult to use. Matters weren't helped with the addition of a Microsoft Access database for calculating rent allocation in conjunction with those AutoCAD drawings. The Access system, in fact, required double manual entry of data in the database and in AutoCAD. Though it got Great American to the level of accuracy it sought, it still didn't provide the level of integration needed between the database and the company's CAD drawings.

To identify vacant space, improve allocations, and avoid its manual data entry hurdle, Great American turned to ARCHIBUS' Space Management solution, with the help of Business Partner GBBN, to create an ARCHIBUS Web Central-based solution.

"We looked at another application but only ARCHIBUS was able to integrate tightly with our AutoCAD so that linking and manipulating information was easy – and we liked the open platform structure," remembers Paul. "We could do whatever we wanted with it right out of the box or with some minor customization."

The ARCHIBUS Space Management solution was up and running within three months at two of Great American's downtown Cincinnati buildings. The solution supported the company's transition from group area configurations to individual room areas linked with occupant information and greatly improved space management as well as the collection and integration of lease, rent, employee space allocation/utilization and other data.

Better Search, Smart Map-plications

ARCHIBUS' dynamic Workforce Search, a feature linked to floor plans, is another addition to Great American's ARCHIBUS arsenal that enables it for the first time to conduct employee searches by department, building location, name, floor number, and zip code. The company can now also find information they need for telecom infrastructure when planning moves or other tasks, including the type and location of 5,000 face plates, phone and data jacks.

ARCHIBUS even incorporates a wide range of mapping utilities that present a menu of map drill-down options, from global views of company sites down to the floor-plan level of detail.

Annualized Savings: $400,000+

Great American's ARCHIBUS implementation allowed it to identify vacant space and exercise early termination of leases so it could consolidate work space and reduce rent payments. Just as important, the company was able to avoid opening new offices.

ARCHIBUS, furthermore, gives Great American the ability to query existing space data in order to plan future space initiatives. That capability played a major role in helping the company save $417,000 in the solution's first year.

But ARCHIBUS also provides other capabilities. Current and historical rent charges, for example, can be researched more easily along with square footage and associated lease terms. It also shows floor plans with departments shaded for more user-friendly identification. Automatic transfer of space allocation data to Great American's accounting department accelerates improved cost oversight, as did the ability to provide the firm's numbers crunchers with POB allocations for non-rent items.

Great American's new mapping options do more than present a clearer picture, of the company's many properties. The most important map of all for Great American is ARCHIBUS' technology roadmap that defines a path to increasingly sophisticated space, infrastructure, and facilities management.