Two years ago, the Estates and Buildings Department at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland embarked on a mission to replace its existing core systems with a fully integrated Estates and Buildings Information System (EBIS). While the department suspected that the new system would increase communication and introduce better workflow processes, they probably didn't expect it would also be such an esteem-booster for them. Today, the EBIS brings a wealth of information to a variety of University personnel. Plus, the Estates and Buildings department, who initiated this project, are enjoying better recognition within the University community and winning accolades from the FM industry.
Prior to the EBIS, data was scattered across the University's 500-plus buildings. Each department used its own methods of tracking information, many of which were still manual. "Data was being entered several times into several different systems," says Lesley Weaver, Project Co-ordinator for the EBIS project. "A lack of standardization and procedures made it difficult to obtain management information on space and finance." Clearly, this antiquated system was blocking interdepartmental communication and stood in the way of the big picture.
The new EBIS would have to remedy this. It would replace these various existing systems, extend a comprehensive solution to all sections of the Estates and Buildings department, and be accessible to other departments throughout the University. Beyond satisfying those core requirements, Estates and Buildings envisioned this new system boosting the department's low profile and stimulating change in the University's corporate culture. "Our goal was to achieve better integration and harmonization, and generally improve the quality of information for all staff," says Weaver. After careful consideration, ARCHIBUS emerged as the product most likely to meet all these expectations.
To ensure support for the project, the Estates and Buildings department first determined how it could deliver value across the board. The department convened a user team comprised of members from the University's academic, facilities, and information technology departments. These potential users were invited to see what the EBIS offered in special-interest areas such as room booking procedures, asset registration, and stock control. MASS Systems, an ARCHIBUS dealer, then customized the system to meet the University's functional and operational needs. These partnerships with the user community and local dealer were crucial to ensuring the successful rollout of the EBIS to the entire University community.
Following a phased implementation, the EBIS ultimately incorporated 610,000 square meters of space, over 700 drawings, and more than 10,000 room booking requests. A fully integrated approach lets the Estates and Buildings department access information from Personnel, Finance, and Student records. With all data pulled together in one database, users have better access to strategic information, as Weaver describes. "We've integrated all labor and materials costs throughout all the modules so that full costing information is easily obtained," she says. And all that information is guaranteed to be accurate and up-to-date because it's only entered once by the appropriate people.
Web-Enabling the University
Today, over 100 core users in various business areas at the University use ARCHIBUS to better manage their data. And, realizing the Estates and Buildings department's hope for organization-wide communication are the over 400 authorized Web users who access the database via the Internet. For example, the Web-enabled Room Bookings feature is available to an unlimited number of users over the Internet. "Everyone can instantly see, via the Web, the status of any room booking or repair request," says Weaver. "All Web reports for Room Bookings - by Course Code, Building Code, Date Range, etc. are accessible to everyone in the University. This includes the students, who can now check on-line to see where their classes are." It's a very popular tool: in the first day the feature went live, over 600 recurring bookings were placed. The University's Media and Learning Technology Services department also has access to the ARCHIBUS database, which helps staff members maintain and book portable audio-visual equipment. From the janitors to the hall managers, Internet access to a comprehensive information system really breaks down the University's communication barriers.
Making the Grade
Clearly, departments across the campus are reaping the practical benefits of the new EBIS. Meanwhile, the team that got this project off the ground is receiving the recognition it deserves for making it all happen. At the 2000 PFM Partnership Awards in London, the University of Edinburgh and MASS Systems won the top award in their category for their joint work on the development of the EBIS. These awards, which are a very prestigious FM industry accolade, are presented to organizations who have made real achievements by working together.
"One of the most pleasant surprises we've found is how interested people are in what we've developed and implemented," says Weaver. That said, the University of Edinburgh has designs to introduce other universities to the power of an EBIS. In conjunction with MASS Systems, the University plans to market the system's capabilities to interested higher educational institutions throughout the United Kingdom. In addition to increasing efficiency and communication among the universities, the Estates and Buildings department feels that more EBIS users will ensure the product's development and long-term future. It's just one more way the University of Edinburgh is satisfying its historical educational mission.
University of Edinburgh
500 buildings comprising 5.25 million square feet
|ARCHIBUS Applications: |
Real Property & Lease Management
Furniture & Equipment Management
Building Operations Management
FM Web Central
|Impetus for Implementation: |
Needed one core integrated system
|Benefits Gained: |
Accurate space information and allocation; improved room utilization; accurate job costings; more control of budgets; accessibility to the University community
|Business Partner: |
|Web Site: |
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