Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007 - (Page 45)

G U E ST COLUMN FACILITIES MANAGEMENT FACILITIES MANAGEMENT FOR A/E FIRMS MEANS GREATER PROFITABILITY By Brad Homan Can it positively influence your firm’s growth and success? Document Management and FM Like all businesses striving in an increasingly competitive environment, A/E firms are under constant pressure to improve productivity and profit margins. Adopting an effective facilities management (FM) program can play a positive role in this condition, especially benefiting IT directors, CAD managers and business managers. FM programs generally are defined as outsourced management of in-house printing equipment, maintenance and supplies for that equipment, and some form of tracking and reporting of equipment usage. (FM also is referred to as On-Site Services, or OSS.) Equipment installed by the FM service provider may include laser plotters, ink-jet plotters, copier/ printer/scanners and fax machines. (FM eliminates the need for firms to purchase or lease equipment.) Electronic document management systems and software are becoming a part of FM programs as well. The FM provider manages the equipment, service and supplies (eliminating the brunt of this task from firm personnel); collects data on equipment and systems usage; and provides project-specific reports to the firm showing costs and potential reimbursements they may gain from project clients. The ability to account for costs based on projBrad Homan ect activity (coupled with the reduced overhead expenses typical of an FM program) positions the firm for greater profitability. In addition, installed FM equipment costs the firm nothing when not in use, unlike machines that are purchased or leased by the firm. Features and Benefits of FM to an A/E Firm Include: ■ Electronic tracking and reporting, enabling a firm to do summary billing of clients by project, including all associated printrelated expenses; ■ Conversion of print and related expenses from a fixed to a variable cost, synchronized with the firm’s project activity level; ■ Reduced overhead costs and consolidated expenses; ■ Streamlined asset management, consolidating equipment under a single umbrella contract; ■ Elimination of equipment leases and/or the need for capital expenditure for equipment; ■ Freedom from management of equipment supplies and service requests, which are instead fulfilled by the FM provider; and ■ Reduced investment risk in new technology, because this becomes the responsibility of the FM provider. In addition, an FM program from a capable provider also can incorporate document management software or systems. A/E firms increasingly are considering this component to be critical for improved security and disaster recovery, greater accessibility to documents, ease of electronic distribution (both within the firm and to outside project participants and project owners), and the higher productivity and accountability they afford. Expense Recovery Solutions All expenses of an FM program can be tracked with the right expense recovery system, including equipment usage costs, supplies, staffing (if applicable), off-site reprographics expenses and document management systems. These expenses are bundled by project code and reported to designated firm personnel. Although some A/E firms wish to be self-reliant and use manual tracking, it is a time-consuming method of collecting data and preparing reports and client invoices. It is error-prone and often unreliable. Firms using this method typically recover or account for 10 percent to 30 percent of actual project-related expenses. A Successful FM Program Provides These Core Benefits: ■ The A/E firm needs no capital outlay for equipment or systems; ■ Tracking of data for accounting and/or reimbursement of expenses is more accurate; ■ Invoices for project clients are more credible and complete; ■ Monthly printing and related expenses are proportional to reimbursements for improved cash flow; ■ Overhead costs can be passed along to project clients; and ■ The A/E firm is positioned for greater profitability and efficiency. In addition to these bottom-line improvements, many A/E FM users report that the convenience, flexibility and positioning for growth their program provides are significant benefits. FM programs are a business solution that A/E firms of 10 or more personnel in one or multiple offices should consider. Many successful firms find that FM helps control profit margins and put resources to more effective use. ■ Brad Homan is director of FM Programs at Service Point USA. MARCH / APRIL 2007 ENGINEERING INC. 45

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007

From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Legislative Action
Market Watch
Cover Story: Alternative Energy
The Greening of Wal-Mart
Re-Energizing the Industry
The BIM Boom
Help Wanted: Leaders for Tomorrow
The Path of Perseverance
ACEC/PAC Achieves Record Fundraising Year
ACEC Annual Convention
Helping Firms Manage Healthcare Costs
Facilities Management for A/E Firms
Business Insights
Members In The News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007