ARCHIBUS Success Story

FM @ Regional Municipality of Waterloo: From Shoebox to CAFM

Located about 75 miles west of Toronto, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo is part of Canada's "Technology Triangle." But it wasn't always so. Back in 1853 (when Waterloo became an independent county), and for the first fifty years of its existence, Waterloo remained predominantly rural. The twentieth century industrialization was succeeded, in turn, by a technology-driven economy.

Water Treatment Plant, circa 1992As the needs of the area grew more complex, a new Regional government was devised to deliver a wide range of human services to a broad, diversified constituency. Besides the maintenance of administrative buildings and courthouses, the Regional government was charged with the facilities management of police stations, recycling depots, waste management and water treatment plants, libraries, day care centers, restored historic buildings, nursing homes, and even the Regional Airport. In essence, the facilities management team is responsible for 382 buildings staffed by some 1,500 municipal employees.

A Shoebox Story
The career of Gerry Evans, Manager of Facilities Maintenance and Operations, mirrors the Municipality's transition from a simple, agrarian society to a complex, technical one. As he tells the story, on his first day on the job in property management (about twenty years ago), he was presented with a shoebox by the property manager. The contents of the box consisted of all of the invoices pertaining to the repairs carried out on municipal buildings (only thirty in those days). In time, Gerry graduated to a file cabinet and then to a computer. He now uses CAFM to keep track of those "invoices"-and just about everything the Municipality owns. While it's evident that the Region is a very progressive organization, it's still safe to say that both he and the Regional Municipality of Waterloo have indeed come a long way.

The Right Tool for the Job
The Municipality had been relying on a different software package, but was quickly outgrowing it. "The old system fell short on such critical items as providing management reports and preventative maintenance tasks," nor was it "flexible enough to manage the entire building stock." Another incentive to find a real solution was the construction of a Regional Administration Headquarters and a Community Health & Social Services Building. The two new sites were going to increase the Municipality's portfolio significantly.

Water Pumping Station, circa 1891

It was decided that the tool of choice was ARCHIBUS. As new versions of ARCHIBUS became available, however, the team was anxious to upgrade. Gord Gavrilovic, Systems Manager, explains that users were looking for the increased speed and functionality of the new version.

A Smooth Transition
Evans and Gavrilovic are pleased to share the details of their upgrade process. Using the step-up process provided by ARCHIBUS, Inc., they transferred as much data as possible using the import procedure in ARCHIBUS. Next, they utilized temporary resources to input data which was not able to be transferred. They established a cutoff date for the use of the older version to create work orders. Then they established new import and export routines to handle data flow between the various corporate systems. By implementing the new routines and starting up the first run of PM work orders only one month after the cutoff date, no data was lost during the transition phase. Their advice on managing the transition is to verify ahead of time which data can and cannot be transferred. They suggest that upgraders closely examine the degree of customization carried out in the older version since this is a critical factor in determining how much data will transfer and how well it will transfer.

Reaping the Rewards
According to Evans, ARCHIBUS has come to be regarded by all staff as not just a new tool, but a new culture. It allows users to classify various types of work that are idiosyncratic to a particular industry or organization. For example, one category of maintenance peculiar to Waterloo's FM system is denoted as "Environmental Maintenance." This particular category pertains to the quality of the physical environment of the indoor workspace. It is used to track indoor air quality by monitoring "hot/cold calls" (when employees notify the facilities staff that their work area is uncomfortably cold, or warm, or inadequately ventilated). By tracking the calls, Evans and his staff can pinpoint areas that need attention, and they can analyze underlying causes of the problem. Thus, environmental maintenance is differentiated from, for example, preventive or emergency maintenance. Another concern is human safety. To promote safety on the job and to maximize efficiency, they have created a task standard description library. The library provides the craftsperson with instructions as to the specifics of the task, the tools and materials required. However, it also alerts the craftsperson as to whether a body harness is needed, for example, or whether the job has to be performed in a confined space. The end result is fewer on-the-job injuries and so, naturally, fewer Worker Compensation claims.

Now It's the Net
Evans and Gavrilovic are excited by the prospect of being able to provide even better services to their clients by using a system-wide Intranet. They want to be able to give them live data so that clients know when a job is scheduled to be done, who will do the work, and probable costs by creating a home page with hyperlinks to a Work Request form which the client can fill in. This autocreate feature will reduce data entry time. It allows for a better use of human resources, since telephone queries would become unnecessary. Bar coding is already in the works. Besides the tracking of assets, they would like to use bar coding to close out work orders on the worksite via portable scanners.

In Defense of Shoeboxes
Empty shoeboxes certainly do have their uses. They are handy containers for the homey, familiar and little objects of life. But in the context of the largescale and the complicated, they do fall a bit short. All things considered, Gerry Evans is probably better off keeping that shoebox as a souvenir and moving ahead with ARCHIBUS.

Vital Statistics

Regional Municipality of Waterloo
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Facilities Facts:
382 buildings
1.6 million square feet
Approximately 1,500 employees
Impetus for Implementation:
Needed more flexible, robust system (old system inadequate for producing management reports and processing preventive maintenance tasks); two newly-built sites considerably expanded the portfolio.
Benefits Gained:
Eliminated duplicate entry of information; excellent interface with other corporate systems such as HRIS, GIS, SFG Data. System provides global overview of FM operations. Establishment of Intranet provides information pertaining to work orders, space planning standards; used to track FM staff performance, costs, churn rates; used to define standards in the work place.
Future Plans:
Move to Oracle version of ARCHIBUS.
Implement bar-coding.
Web Site:
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