Evolution of Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) – Part 6 – What Comes Next? 

As am I typing these words I am listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and this post’s title was inspired by the song from the play, “What Comes Next” by Jonathan Groff, hence the title! The King George scenes within Hamilton are some of my favorites.

I spend a lot of time looking to the future so that our team can be out ahead of any trends that are impacting our clients. One of the “hottest” topics right now (late 2022) is how the Internet of Things, Big Data and Machine Learning are going to impact Facility and Asset Management. Some are even predicting that FCAs will become obsolete as computers will send you and email when it is time to replace a roof, or boiler.

First off, I have no doubt that over time we are going to see major disruption to the facility sector from these emerging technologies. However, I am skeptical about how fast the changes are going to occur.

I was recently at a presentation where the speaker suggested that by 2030 most organizations would be using Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) as their standard practice. I think that too many organizations are still struggling to get a handle on preventative vs. reactive maintenance, that it is a big jump to go straight to CBM.

We are in a weird stage of technological advancement where the amount of data that we can generate and store far outweighs our ability to gain insights from it. I am fairly confident that data scientist will be one of the top career opportunities in the coming decades. However, I am not sure how quickly they are going to embed themselves within facilities and physical plant teams. Without the ability to separate the “wheat from the chaff”, the overwhelming quantity of data that can be generated from sensors within individual pieces of equipment will stifle any innovation across the industry.

Many (if not most) facilities teams are still struggling to get an accurate equipment inventory to support their current maintenance practices. To think that there will be a quantum leap in eight years to fully automated programs driven by machine learning, sensors and data scientists is a long way to go in a short period of time.

I remember hearing 5 years ago that we would have ubiquitous self-driving cars within 5 years. We are not even close to that reality as of yet. While I do believe that this will be our reality at some point in the future, I do think it is further off than predicted. In my opinion, the same can be said for these emerging technologies for facility and asset management. I could be wrong and only time will tell.

Despite my skepticism for the timing, I do think that facility management is going to be disrupted at some point in the future. We are working with many of our client organizations to find ways to better use the data that they have, and to try to find ways to get new (useful) data.

When the change will come and how fast, still remains an unknown. That being said, each organization should be looking for ways to better understand these technologies and look for ways to leverage them at the right time and for the right processes so that they are not left behind when the wave comes.

The most exciting part of looking to the future is that it is not written yet and there is only one way to find out and that is to live it!

 

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Evolution of Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) – Part 5 – What’s Your Story Morning Glory

No matter what type of organization you are a part of, you are going to have to make a business case for funding, whether that is to just maintain the current funding that you are getting, or ideally to advocate for an increase.

The key thing to remember is in most cases, the people that you are speaking to are not facilities folks. They are educators, medical professionals, business or finance experts. Too much data can easily either overwhelm them or cause them to lose interest. That is why we have been working with our clients to start building stories, informed by their data as part of their upward reporting and presentations.

If you have never read it, I would highly recommend the book Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. Although it is focused on marketing and sales, it can add a lot of value for anyone who is advocating for funding either within their organization or to an outside funding body. I am not going to get into the principles of the book here (that’s why you should read it), but it does provide an excellent structure for telling compelling stories and getting your message across.

Before you start to craft your story, you really need to understand what the underlying narrative or intent of the story (presentation) is going to be. With regards to facility and infrastructure asset management, there are really three main narratives that we see clients telling:

  1. This is where we are and these are the bad things that are going to happen if we continue on the way we are going;
  2. This is where we are and this is how much worse it would be if we hadn’t done what we have over the past years;
  3. Thank you for the additional funding you provided, here is what we did with it, can we have some more please!

It is also critical that you know your audience and what is important to them. If you do have technical people on your Board or as Trustees, then you can likely go deeper into the data. If you are talking to pure financial people, you may want to talk dollars instead of Facility Condition Index. End users (educators, medical professionals, etc.) are better off focusing on the risk to interruption of the core services offered in the building.

Focus on what is important to your audience and show both the risks of not taking action, as well as the benefits if you do take action. Wherever possible utilize their terminology and quote strategic plans or goals. You want them to recognize their work in what you are requesting. Use the data to back-up both the potential risks you are trying to avoid, and the benefits that you want to achieve.

Many of us are highly technical professionals and therefore the concept of story at first may seem a bit “fluffy” for some. The fact is that more and more organizations are getting greater traction in using the principles of story, backed up by consistent and defensible data, to further their AM programs. Give it a try!

 

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Evolution of Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) – Part 4 – Taking a Longer-Term View

As we get into the mid-to-late 2010s, many clients were making informed decisions based on FCAs (as well as Energy Audit, Accessibility, etc. reports). Using mostly 5-year projections of capital renewal needs, clients started making internal (within their organizations) and external (Federal, State/Provincial Governments) business cases for additional funding.

When all you have is a 5-year projection of need, as each year passes your forecasting horizon is reduced. Typically, FCAs are updated every five years. By the time a client updates their FCAs they would not have any future picture of their needs.

One of the foundational principles of facility asset management is that each year there are going to be new items that require attention. In one instance, one of our clients had made a commitment to their board to cut their 5-Year Facility Condition Index (FCI) in half based on funding 50% of their initial 5-year need. The challenge was that over the course of the 5 years of the program, millions of dollars of renewal need rolled into the 5-Year planning horizon.

At the end of the 5-year program the FCI had increased. The client had to go back to their Board “hat in hand” to explain the increase in CI and focus on how the program they implemented had made things better than they would have been, but had not resulted in an overall improvement after 5-years and millions of dollars of additional funding.

Once you start to take a longer-term view of needs, many organizations will have to settle for a “Less Worse” approach in the short term. At the end of the day it may not feel like a compelling argument. However, it is critical to set clear and achievable expectations with your stakeholder, especially for any new approach to your renewal program.

In order to provide a longer-term view of renewal need, the FCA industry had to start to abandon the limited forecast period. Instead, we started to provide a complete, detailed element-level inventory of buildings (at Uniformat II Level 3/4 as opposed to Level 1/2, which was the first step in the evolution). In having an inventory, with dates of construction/installation, estimated costs and expected useful lives, clients could develop longer-term forecasts of renewal need. As such, FCA data no longer “got stale” so quickly.

As the industry started to look to longer term forecasts one new area that became critical was the idea of cyclical renewals. For example if you do a 20-year forecast of renewal need you should consider multiple replacements of some elements (those that have an EUL less than 20 years). Making sure that you “accounted for” these multiple replacements is critical to more accurate forecasting and more trust worthy data.

At this point, we have seen many clients start to explore the integration of capital and maintenance planning. As a result, more and more organizations are starting to gather equipment-level inventory (as opposed to element-level that is included in a typical FCA). We will leave this part of the story for another blog series.

In theory, with a detailed inventory of building, and using cyclical renewals you can project an unlimited forecast of renewal needs. We have seen several clients that have wanted 50 to 100 year projections of need. These longer term forecasts would not have been possible years before. Through their FCAs, clients now had a complete dataset for their buildings in terms of capital renewal forecasting long into the future.

Armed with a complete dataset that can provide a longer-term planning capability, we have started to shift the focus from the data, to the story that you tell, informed by your data. That story will have to wait until our next post.

 

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Evolution of Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) – Part 3 – The Emergence of the Professional Assessor

Over the years, most FCAs were completed by design, project management and/or construction professionals “on the side”. The work was done on a part time basis either to fill in gaps in workload for core services, or to try to secure downstream work associated with the actual renewal projects.

 

As mentioned in my previous post, for teams that were primarily focused on assessments, staff often turned over frequently. There were two main types of assessors. Young, recent graduates that wanted to give FCAs a try. The second group was former designers that wanted to do something different later in their careers. In both cases, the tenure of these staff was somewhat limited. Most new grads lost interest in FCAs after a couple of years, again because all we were doing was pushing out reports. The more senior staff were closing in on retirement, so their time frame was shorter. 

 

In the early 2010s, as the value and meaning of FCAs became greater as a result of clients moving from a report focus to a data focus, we started to see the emergence of the professional assessor. We were able to keep staff engaged for a lot longer and people started to see Professional Assessor as a third option for their career.

 

As clients were looking to rely on the data provided, firms were able to take advantage of professional assessors who were sticking around longer, getting better and more efficient at collecting data.

 

To be completely honest, when I founded Roth IAMS in 2014, I had assumed that if we were lucky in 10 to 15 years, we would be able to build a firm of 20 to 25 people. One of the main reasons behind this assumption was the difficulty we had historically in retaining staff beyond a couple of years. We were in a constant cycle of hiring, training, rehiring and retraining. Thankfully we were able to break that cycle and we were able to help our clients and staff find meaning in the process and the results. After less than nine years we have been able to assemble a team of nearly 100 people that come to work everyday to collect data on existing buildings that will help clients improve their buildings for the benefits of the users.

 

These two simultaneous changes reinforced each other to drive further change to the industry. A more experienced pool of consultants was available increasing the quality, consistency and defensibility of the data provided, making it even more useful for prioritized capital planning.

 

The higher level of trust that our clients felt in the data provided by professional assessors added rocket fuel to the spark that came when the sector made the shift away from reports and towards data and laid the foundation of the next big change, moving beyond a short-term view. More on that in my next post! 

 

 

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Evolution of Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) – Part 1 – Reports, Reports, Reports

As we are in the middle of Fall conference season, I have been having many conversations about facility and infrastructure asset management, including outlining our approach and philosophy to providing Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs). Several of the conversations have centered around the changes within the industry that have occurred over the last two decades.

 

Having been around the Facility Condition Assessments (FCA) world since the late 1990s, it has been interesting to observe and be part of the evolution of business. When we talk about FCAs, we are talking about gathering a detailed inventory of the elements within a building to develop a future forecast of capital renewal needs. Typically FCAs are done by institutional clients, often across the Government, Education and Healthcare sectors.

 

In the early days of FCAs, institutional clients were trying to sort out the difference between an FCA and a Property Condition Assessment (PCA), which was (and continues to be) performed in association with financing or acquisition/disposition of a property. In the late 90s, there was not a dramatic difference between an FCA and a PCA. 

 

At the time, most clients were looking for a report. Being in the FCA business was a lot like being in the report preparation business. I can still remember countless calls from clients saying “I have been told by someone that I need a report. Can you help me?”. 

 

The earliest FCA reports were often constrained by a time limited forecast of future renewal needs, much like a PCA. 5-Year or 10-Year time frames for reports were the most common. This means that the reports provided a 5 or 10-year forecast of renewal needs, along with narrative review of the other building elements that didn’t require attention within the forecast period.

 

This approach revolutionized facility asset management. For the first time in many organizations’ histories, facility and asset managers were able to understand the scale of their deferred capital renewal and maintenance backlog. The reports were valuable from a big picture planning and advocacy perspective, but often the reports were placed in a shelf and rarely used or referenced after the initial submission. I can remember many clients grabbing reports and in some cases literally dusting them off after five years and asking us to update the reports. 

 

Early advocacy based on the reports was successful in many cases. However, with such a short term horizon of knowledge (5 or 10-years), long term forecasting and planning were rate. Just asking for a report that answered the basic questions, “what do we own?” and “what condition is it in?” was critical to starting the journey that we continue on today. However, we have come a long way since then.

 

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Evolution of Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) – Part 2 – It’s All About the Data Baby!

For over a decade, until around 2010, the FCA industry continued to be focused on the delivery of reports. My team and I (and other firms providing the same service) were report generating machines. We would brag about how many reports we were producing like a badge of honor. I still hear some firms that focus more on transactional due diligence, as opposed to capital planning, making these statements, even today.

However, as we continued to pump out reports that mainly served the purpose of “ticking boxes” (So and so said I had to get a report, check, I did!), the whole process started to feel a bit meaningless. Organizations that were underfunded when it came to maintaining and renewing their buildings were spending millions of dollars on getting reports that were providing little to no value beyond saying that they were complete.

Not only was this a waste of money, but we also had a real issue in retaining staff to do the work. Personally, I started to see the work as a bit hollow. What were we really accomplishing?

Thankfully, around 2010 or so, we started to push for a change, and we started to see our clients wanting to make a shift as well. Reports were fine for ticking boxes. However, the real value in an FCA was the data that was buried in the reports. Up until that point most FCA reports were either hard copies or PDFs of Word or Excel documents. This made the process of extracting the data a terribly manual and onerous process.

The biggest change that occurred during this process was clients starting to ask for Excel tables with their data. At first there was a lot of concern about clients changing the recommendations in our reports, and what that meant from a liability perspective. However, we quickly overcame that by providing a PDF or control copy of the data maintaining our original recommendations while also giving the client data that she/he could use.

The most proactive clients were starting to look past the reports and were finding ways to utilize the data to help make more informed capital renewal decisions. That being said, we saw many clients still struggling to utilize and leverage their data.

Up until this point, typical renewal decisions were still very reactive, finding the money to fix things when they broke. For those that were taking a more proactive approach, oftentimes a group of knowledgeable staff would get together once a year and build a plan based on the opinions of the staff. Having data on the renewal needs over the next number of years allowed facility and asset managers to enhance their planning with the independent, third party data from their FCAs.

The end result of an FCA was no longer just issuing a report. We started to see real-world changes resulting from our work. Clients could finally use their data to make better renewal decisions and many successful advocacy programs resulted in increased renewal funding.

After nearly a decade and a half of just producing reports, our work was having a more profound impact. Students, patients, tenants and workers were benefiting from an improved built environment, renewed based on data provided in our FCAs. Finally, we started to see more staff becoming more engaged in the work and the professional assessor started to become a career that staff were interested in pursuing.

 

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Shoring Up Your Discipline

I am by no means an exercise junkie. After struggling during the first few months of the pandemic to peel myself away from the news and too much doom scrolling on my phone and Netflix, I have found a decent rhythm that seems to work for me (except when I am travelling!). However, it is still not something that I relish everyday.

 

A case in point was a few days ago. I was scheduled to hit the treadmill and the home gym. I woke up at my usual time, but I had zero motivation to get out of bed and work out. I procrastinated for a bit (or maybe more than a bit). When I finally got up, I saw the workout clothes that I had laid out the night before. Despite the laziness I was feeling, I had guilted myself sufficiently that I made my way down to the basement and got my workout done. It was a slog. I was tempted to skip some of the weights that are part of my normal routine, but I pushed through.

 

As soon as I was done, I felt great. In fact, I realized that “mentally” I felt even better than I did after a normal (where I wasn’t trying with all my might to convince myself to skip) workout. I think it was because I really hadn’t wanted to do it in the first place, and I was able to push through. Instead of feeling guilty that I felt like slacking off, I actually felt better because I was able to push through.

 

In whatever roles that we play in the world, there are always going to be things that we have to do, that we are not motivated to get started or complete. These are often the things that we put off and avoid. Assuming that the tasks are important (like exercise), the next time you feel the dread of having to do the task, try reframing it and “think of how good it will feel when it is done”.

 

We have two choices, we can resign ourselves to the guilt of procrastinating on important tasks (deciding what is important is the subject of countless business books and articles), or we can see to the other side and use the pull of that extra strong feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing something that was both important and difficult (at least from a motivation standpoint).

 

What have you been putting off at home, at work or for yourself? Shore up your discipline by looking to the end result and the extra feeling of accomplishment that will come on the other side.

 

Managing people is hard. Managing yourself if downright brutal. Good luck everyone!

Our “NEED” for In-Person Contact

As I am writing this, I have just returned from the ERAPPA 2022 Conference at the Turning Stone Resort in New York. This was the first annual ERAPPA conference since 2019. I had the pleasure of seeing many clients that I had not seen in-person since before COVID-19. Several of them have been on dozens of Teams calls during that time, so I have been in communication with them. However, it took getting in the same room to remind me of how important the connection is when you are physically together.

I don’t think that work and life are ever going to go back to the pre-pandemic normal. That being said, I do think that the pendulum has swung too far and we need to come back to more in-person activities as soon as we can. I am in no way advocating for the return to five-days-a-week in the office. In fact, in our firm we have had staff in areas outside of the Greater Toronto Area (where our Canadian Corporate Office is located) and St. Petersburg (where our US office is located) working 100% remotely since the company started.

For many people who have been isolated as a result of the pandemic, it may feel disconcerting to get together in person with people, let alone in large groups. I remember the first large indoor event (Sourcewell’s H2O in June 2021) that I attended part way through the pandemic, I was totally freaked out being inside with so many “strangers”. I suggest we push through any discomfort we might have and get out and see some people again face-to-face.

Online meetings can be very effective in certain circumstances. However, I am still a big believer in meeting in-person early in a project (e.g Kick-off meeting). The business world still is based on relationships and I for one feel that it is much harder to build strong relationships only online. Shaking someone’s hand, sharing small talk, reading body language, all of these things help to build longer lasting, healthier, more collaborative relationships.

Human beings are inherently social creatures. It goes against our very nature to be isolated. Now that the worst of the pandemic (fingers crossed) is behind us, let’s get back together in-person and (re)build some of that connection that binds us all together.

Here’s hoping that I will see you soon!

Daring Greatly!

In my opinion, one of the greatest presidential speeches (and motivational speeches as well) in history, is Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena. I cannot remember where I was first introduced to it, but I credit Brene Brown with reintroducing it to me in Dare to Lead.

The link below will take you to a YouTube recording of the most famous part of the speech. I am pretty sure it is Paul Giamatti that is the narrator, but I have not been able to confirm it 100% (although there are some folks in the video’s comments that agree with me). If you are not familiar with it, I suggest you watch and listen to the video before you read the rest of the post. The Man in the Arena.

One of the most frustrating things for me personally is to watch people with potential not doing everything they can to achieve it. Unfortunately, achievement of anything worthwhile will be hard. Talent will always lose out to hard work. However, talent plus hard work is almost unstoppable!

Social media today has created a highlight reel for everyone’s life and career. So much so that you can start to feel like everyone else is doing great, always happy, successful, achieving and never failing or falling down. The reality is that the only people that are not making mistakes are the ones that are doing nothing.

I fear that too many people are falling into a trap of inaction either due to a fear of failure or a fear of hard work. How can we quiet the critics, both internal and external to avoid the fate of the “cold and timid souls”.

Whether it is in your personal or professional life, become the “doer of deeds” and “strive valiantly” to achieve whatever goals you set for yourself. No change has every occurred without someone, or in most cases a group of people taking action and building momentum.

As you continue on your journey in life, if you ever feel your energy waning or the naysaying voices (internal or external) getting louder, pick up a copy or have a listen to The Man in the Arena. It has helped me find the will to push through many times. Go forth and “DARE GREATLY!”

Don’t (Just) Follow Your Passion 

Over the past number of years, you have heard a lot of “experts” say “Follow Your Passion” when it comes to deciding what to do with your life. However, I (and many others) feel that there is a significant danger in taking this advice. This may sound strange coming from someone that works for a company where Passionate is one of our Core Values (along with Collaborative and Consistently Curious).

The danger is not in the idea itself. It is in the over-simplification of the idea.

What if you are not very good at what you are passionate about? What if nobody is willing to pay you (an employer, or the market in general for an entrepreneur) to do what you are passionate about? There are just two nuances that highlight the danger of simply following your passion.

I think the better approach is to look for the intersection of your passion and your skills/strengths, and then try to find someone to pay you to do it. Although there are some exceptions to the rule, I generally find that people generally like what they are good at. Even if you are not passionate about something in the beginning, if you get really good at something, naturally a passion will develop in most cases. Otherwise, it is unlikely that you would be willing to put in the effort and sacrifice to develop the skills.

If you are having trouble finding your passion, I would suggest investing in a couple of assessment products. First try a personality profile like Predictive Index, DISC, Myer-Briggs, etc. This will provide you with some knowledge of ways to better understand yourself and how to manage yourself.

Secondly, I would recommend that you do the Working Genius, which provides you with a sense of the types of work that bring you energy (Working Geniuses) and those that drain you of energy (Working Frustrations). Working genius is less abut who you are as a person and more about how you best fit into a Team and the type of work that you are best suited for.

The combination of the two tools should give you a helpful foundation on finding your passion. However, there is still some experimentation that you need to do. It is highly unlikely that you will get it right the first time. This doesn’t mean you have to leave your company though. Over my career I took on many different roles within the organizations that I have worked in, each one was a stepping stone on my journey to entrepreneurship. Don’t get frustrated and each thing you find that isn’t your passion brings you one step closer to finding it.

Finally, I also want to point out that nobody gets to do what they are passionate about 100% of the time. This is just an unrealistic expectation. There will always be responsibilities or parts of your job that you are not passionate about (expense reports anyone?!). However, you can only delegate so many of those tasks (and earlier in your career its hard to delegate much as you are generally the delegatee not the delegator).

If you are able to find a role where you are doing what brings you energy (your Working Genius) and you are passionate about the work 30% to 40% of your time, you are better off than most. I am not saying we shouldn’t try to maximize the time we spend in our Genius or Passion, just that expecting 100% is unrealistic for almost anyone.

Whether you are just starting your career or you are looking for a change mid-career, don’t make the mistake of just trying to “find your passion”. Life, like most things cannot be oversimplified in such a way.

Epilogue

Interestingly, I wrote this post over a month ago.  Recently, there have been several articles quoting Mark Cuban, the “Shark” and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks talking about not following your passion as well.  I would never claim to have the insight that he has.  However, it is nice that some prominent voices are joining the conversation.  

Stretching Your Renewal Dollars

In my previous post, I focused on some of the significant challenges that face organizations when they get an increase (especially a one-time increase) in funding for capital renewal, and specifically some of the challenges faced in today’s volatile market. In this post, I want to provide some strategies that have helped other clients achieve enhanced value for their limited renewal dollars.

The strategies that I am going to present are only really possible if you have control over what renewals you are able to do and when you are able to do them. If your funding is tied tightly to specific projects within specific time frames it becomes more difficult, but not impossible to start to use these strategies.

The easiest way to get more value for money when you are competing with other groups for limited resources (contractors, materials, etc.) is to go where others aren’t. There are a few key building elements that people tend to focus on right away when they get an influx of renewal money: roofing, HVAC, and asphalt. These are critical elements within a building for sure. However, we have seen significant price increases when every school, college, university and/or hospital is trying to replace the same elements. If you can, through proper maintenance and longer-term planning, delay the work on these highly sought after elements so you can find savings opportunities (or at least avoid overpaying) by focusing first on replacing or repairing other building elements such as surface or subsurface infrastructure, windows, electrical, plumbing, etc. 

Once the rush for roofing, HVAC and asphalt has passed, you can come back to the market seeking work in these areas and hopefully find some willing contractors who are coming off the peek from your peers. If the contractors staffed up to meet the market demand, you may even be able to save some money if you get to the market early in the year as they may have more resources than normal to keep busy. Getting out early, after a rush can get you great value.

The second strategy that we have seen work but is generally more difficult, is to collaborate with those in your market to strategize your renewal plans. Many organizations that we work with are hesitant to share their plans with those that they see themselves “in competition with” when it comes to limited market resources. This approach only works when you have two or more partners who are fully transparent and not playing (political) games.

If you are willing to share your plans and adjust your timing so that each organization is focusing on different types of projects in different years, you can avoid competing for the same contractors and materials. A simple example would be for one group to focus on roofing and lighting this year, while the other does HVAC and electrical. The next year you can switch. 

The process is very simple, however, overcoming the resistance to sharing information is the harder part. Where institutions are willing to be open with each other and approach a market in this strategic way, we have seen the demand shocks be blunted through collaboration as opposed to competition.

In all cases, there will be critical elements in critical condition that need attention no matter what. We are not suggesting that you defer these replacements and risk facility or campus shutdown. That is poor risk management. However, if you have the ability to extend the life of an element in a building to avoid buying at the peak of a market, you can find extra value and stretch your limited renewal dollars further.

Spending Money Is Easy. Spending It Wisely Is Hard.

I spend a lot of time speaking with Higher Education clients and potential clients in Florida, since that is where our US head office is located. Through the hard work and dedication of the Florida State University System Board of Governors (BoG), Florida Colleges and Universities are scheduled to receive over $880 M in one-time funding to address Deferred Capital Renewal and Replacement across the State. The money was split fairly evenly between the State-funded Colleges and Universities. It is a huge win for the BoG and the higher education institutions across Florida.

 

However, there are some challenges that Florida Colleges and Universities are going to face over the next couple of years as the money rolls out and the projects are being completed. Many institutions have faced similar problems in the past and many others will in the future when “new” money is injected into a market.

 

As we all know from our personal financial situations, it is very easy to spend money. However, spending money wisely, is another matter altogether. Given the current macroeconomic situation, with inflation not seen in 40 years, supply chain issues left over from the pandemic and unprecedented labor shortages around the world, getting value for money from the government funding is going to pose significant challenges for Florida’s colleges and universities, as well as all other institutions trying to get capital renewal work done in the Southeastern U.S.

 

For example, since the time the institutions submitted the list of projects to the BoG there has been significant inflation, over 20% for some types of projects. As such, the $880 M may only cover $660 M in planned projects just due to the increase in project costs (and that is before the additional funding has had a chance to impact the market). Now this is still a huge win for the sector. However, expectations of the work that can be done with the funding need to be based on the real-world situation at this time.

 

Any market, even one as large and robust as Florida will struggle to consume nearly $1 B in additional funding over a two to three year period. Given that in the Florida case it is also a one-time injection of funding, it represents more of a market shock from the demand side, as opposed to a long-term growth trend. Companies that ramp up hiring or production to meet the demand will likely face the need to downsize once the funding has worked its way through the system. This reduces the incentive for companies to invest to meet the market demand, since it is only likely to be temporary.

 

One other challenge that we have seen, based on previous major increases of funding in specific markets, is that smaller institutions, or those located in smaller centres may also struggle to attract contractors to bid on work. If the market can service larger clients, or those closer to the major centres (often where the contractors are located) then they don’t “have to” venture as far afield to find work as they would in a “normal” market.

 

Despite all of these challenges, this specific funding in Florida, and any increase in funding to address Deferred Capital Renewal and Maintenance backlog is a win. There are always challenges to get value for money when new funding is made available. For now, until inflation and the supply chain and labor issues subside the challenges are just that much greater.

 

In my next post, I will discuss some strategies that we have seen work for our clients to get the most value from a strained market when it comes to capital renewal projects.

Ignore the Pilot at Your Own Risk

Whenever it is possible, within the client’s schedule, we will always recommend that a Pilot be completed at the start of any large, portfolio-wide project. A pilot is effective for any assessment or data collection project including Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs), Equipment Inventory & Tagging, Accessibility Assessments, Energy Audits, etc. A Pilot is a small-scale roll-out of the entire project methodology, which allows all stakeholders to test and confirm their assumptions and make any required course corrections early in the process.

There are a lot of factors that can and should be customized on any multisite project (costing, Uniformat II structure, templates, etc.). The best way to truly know if all these items will meet your needs is to take them out for a test drive by doing a pilot.

In terms of how many buildings to include, there is no magic number. Ultimately a pilot should try to capture a complete and representative sample of buildings. The more diverse and complex your portfolio, the more assets that should be included. In our opinion, most pilots should be between 3 and 6 buildings. Fewer than that will not be representative enough and if you do too many, you start to have a lot of data to revise if you make any scope adjustments.

If you are implementing software in conjunction with your assessment/data collection project, we recommend that you configure the software first before you do the pilot. This way, the pilot will be representative of the full-scale project. We have seen some clients want to get the pilot started right away before the software is configured and ready to go. However, there have been several instances where during configuration, the data collection scope is adjusted to address another data point. In this case, you must return to the pilot buildings at a later date to fill in the data gaps. Although it is tempting to want to rush out to site, patience generally pays off.

Once the pilot is done, it is imperative that all stakeholders involved from a client’s organization be engaged during the pilot. In fact, we recommend that the highest level of attention and scrutiny is applied during the pilot. In this way we develop the road map for a successful project and can then move into “wash, rinse, repeat” mode for the full roll-out.

Unfortunately, we have had some projects where clients did not give the pilot the attention it needed, and it created budget and schedule problems downstream. In one instance, a critical stakeholder group was not engaged early in the project. Once the project was complete, this new group was brought in and wanted to make changes to every assessment report, including a requirement to remobilize to sites to get additional data. This resulted in a schedule delay and a change order for the client. Had the entire stakeholder group been brought in at the pilot stage, we would have had to make minor adjustment to a few buildings and then got it right for the rest.

In the second example, all the right people were involved in reviewing our pilot reports. However, the client just did a cursory review and accepted the pilot reports. When we completed the entire portfolio (50 buildings) and submitted our draft reports, the client did a deeper dive into the reports. They wanted to adjust the way we presented the data in the reports. Unfortunately to do so meant significant reformatting of 50 reports, including adjustment of several calculations and graphs. Once again, this delay and change order could have been avoided had a bit more scrutiny been applied to the pilot work.

Doing a pilot is extremely valuable for any project, but only when it is done right, and the proper level of review is done before “signing off”. Hopefully we have helped you avoid some of the mistakes we have seen with other clients that have either not done a pilot or didn’t give it the attention it deserves.

Working Through the Great Resignation

As we (hopefully) are moving into the endemic phase or perhaps it’s the “live with it phase” of COVID-19, nearly every individual that I speak with has also faced challenges associated with the Great Resignation, as it has been called.

At Roth IAMS, we too saw a significant increase in turnover starting around a year ago and continuing until late last year. Luckily (and I am knocking on wood), we are hopeful that the worst is behind us.

As we were one of the lucky businesses that remained as busy as ever and in fact thrived during the pandemic (increasing our team by almost 50%), we were hiring staff regularly from June 2020. We also feel that we have taken advantage of the Great Resignation. We were lucky enough not to have had any positions go unfilled as we have ramped up our staffing even though we too were experiencing increased turn over.

I recognize that we are once again one of the lucky businesses. I know many organizations that have struggled to get applicants, let alone qualified applicants for many positions. One of our clients previously had over 200 open positions on a team of 800 staff.  Not only couldn’t they find the right people to fill the seats, but the pressure on the 800 staff was causing burn-out and increasing turn-over. Something seen across many organizations regardless of industry.

For many years it was an employer’s market. That dynamic has shifted, and I don’t see it going back anytime soon. As leaders of organizations, it is important that we focus on what we can control and not get caught up in what we cannot.

Good turn-over is when someone decides they want to change their career and there is no opportunity to do so within your organization. Good turn-over is when a colleague decides that they want to make a change to their personal life that no longer fits with their role. Good turn-over is also when someone joined your team and realized that they did not have a passion for the work. As leaders we must recognize, as much as all turn-over hurts, in the long run this type of turn-over is in the best interest of both the organization and the individuals making the change.

Regretful turn-over (assuming it is a team member that is performing well) is when people are leaving your organization and going to do the same thing for someone else. When a team sees an increase in this situation it is critical that you start to look inside the organization for ways that you can retain these individuals. What is causing these valued team members to leave? What can you do to remedy it? How can you keep them engaged? What changes do we need to make to be more attractive for both existing staff and potential new hires to replace those that left?

If you have been lucky enough to not have much regretful turn-over to-date, I would still recommend that you start a dialogue with your current team to get out ahead of it. I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review that recommended Pre-Exit interviews, or stay interviews, where you approach your current staff to ask them why they might choose to leave and then address those issues before they decided to even start looking elsewhere. I am interested to explore this concept in collaboration with our HR team.

Organizations of all sizes are going to have to up their game in terms of employee relations to navigate the Great Resignation and whatever comes afterwards as it relates to recruitment and retention. As with everything, there will be winners and losers. I truly believe that the winners are the ones that pay the most attention to what they can control and accept that which they cannot.

A Third Path Beyond Construction and Design

Having been involved in hiring professional site assessment staff for over 20 years, I have always found it challenging to recruit staff that understand our business.

When I started Roth IAMS in 2014, one of my biggest concerns was if I would be able to find enough people to do the work that I knew was available in the market. Beyond hiring people who do similar work for other firms, there are not a lineup of people that are dreaming of becoming a professional site assessor.

We started to look at it as a pipeline issue. When people take architecture, engineering, or technician/technologist programs, they are generally presented with two future career paths, design, or construction.

We are trying to change the narrative and add a third possibility to the mix, professional site assessment or existing building specialization. Through Co-Op programs and hiring new grads fresh out of school we have been able to find some exceptional and passionate young talent that we hope will be with us for decades as they grow their careers beside us as we grow the company.

COVID-19 threw a bit of a monkey wrench into our plans. However, as we are (hopefully) moving out of the pandemic, we are excited to ramp up the marketing and communication plan to students and new graduates, so they know that they have more than two paths to consider.

We recognize that the work that we do is not for everyone. However, we also think that there are many people in higher education today that would benefit from an awareness that they don’t just have to go into design or construction to leverage their education.

How Collaborative Procurement Drives Collaboration, Education and Successful Outcomes

Whenever an organization puts out a public RFP document, in some ways they are “rolling the dice” in terms of what solutions will be proposed by the market. Especially for organizations that must accept the lowest price qualified bid, there is a considerable risk that organizations may not get the exact product or service that they want or need.

Depending on the “tightness” of the scope of work or specifications in the RFP, and the respondent’s creativity in responding, respondents may be able to cut corners to lower bid costs. This can leave buyers in the uncomfortable position of either getting a result that is not what they wanted or expected or having to pay change order costs to enhance a bidder’s scope of work. Neither scenario is a positive outcome for the procurement professionals or the departments they are serving.

One of the less obvious (at least in terms of frequency of comments that we receive from clients and prospects when discussing Collaborative Procurement), is that the process allows buyers and vendors to collaborate and co-create a scope of work or specification. This all but guarantees that the end result will align with client expectations.

By enabling a results-focused conversation between the procurement team, the client end-user and the supplier, goals and objectives can be clearly articulated, and offerings can be tailored to meet the client’s specific needs.

The other side of this benefit is when a client doesn’t know exactly what they want. Being able to have a conversation with an expert can be an educational opportunity for a buying organization. By working collaboratively with a prequalified supplier, the buyer and their team can absorb a lot of knowledge during the process of crafting a scope of work or specification. The result is a more informed organization and a much higher likelihood of a successful project.

Please visit our Collaborative Procurement page of our website www.rothiams.com or visit our partners at:

www.sourcewell.mn.gov

www.oecm.ca

www.canoeprocurementgroup.ca

What do I have to pay to use a Collaborative Procurement Contract?

One of the most common questions that I get with our Collaborative Procurement contracts with the Canoe Procurement Group of Canada, OECM and Sourcewell is how do we pay for using the contract.

This question is one of the easiest to answer as you, our clients, don’t have to pay anything to leverage the contracts and streamline your procurement process. Although it may not be true for all collaborative contracts, for the three that we have, all costs are paid by the supplier, us, as opposed to the purchaser, you.

Our Master Services Agreements with the Collaborative Procurement group includes a fee representing a percentage of the total contract value that is payable by us to our partner.

Given that most Collaborative Procurement contracts also include preferred pricing, based on the expect volume of services, and to offset the costs of preparing detailed proposals in response to Public RFPs, Procurement Professionals can not only use these contracts without any costs, they can also be comfortable that they are getting ‘best-in-class” pricing, a win-win for any public sector organization.

Please visit our Collaborative Procurement page of our website or visit our partners at:

www.sourcewell.mn.gov

www.oecm.ca

www.canoeprocurementgroup.ca

What is Collaborative Procurement?

I have just returned from the annual Sourcewell H2O conference in beautiful Brainerd, Minnesota (Where the Canoe Procurement Group of Canada was also participating), and we are proud to announce that we have just signed a second contract with OECM for Capital Asset Management Software (CAMS). As such, I wanted to do a few posts answers some of the most common questions we get from clients and prospects on Collaborative Procurement Contracts.

At Roth IAMS we are lucky to have Collaborative Procurement agreements with three world class organizations, Sourcewell in the U.S. (Facility Assessment and Planning Services) and OECM (Facility Condition Assessments and Capital Asset Management Software) and the Canoe Procurement Group (Facility Assessment and Planning Services), both in Canada.

In addition to our contracts, each of these organizations have hundreds of other contracts for products and services used by public sector organizations across North America.  Even if you are not in the market for our services, I would encourage you to review their contracts as I can guarantee you there are many things that you procure on a regular basis that likely have existing contracts in-place.

Although Collaborative Procurement is well-known in some circles we still encounter a lot of Facility and Asset Managers that are not familiar with the process or the organizations that facilitate the contracts.  Additionally, we see many procurement officials who are resistant to utilizing Collaborative Procurement for a variety of reasons.

The biggest misconceptions that we see is that by using a Collaborative Procurement agreement that we are short circuiting the procurement process, or cutting corners in some way.  The reality is that the process that the Sourcewell’s, OECM’s and Canoe’s of the world use actually is designed to satisfy procurement requirements to streamline procurement.

Complete transparency of the process, including sharing documentation of the advertisement, proposal opening documents, response scoring and full contracts, potential members or agencies have access to all the information with which they can ensure that the process aligns with their organization’s specific procurement requirements.

Collaborative Procurement continue to grow in scale each year across North America.  While there are some jurisdictions that are less open to leveraging Collaborative Procurement contracts, year-over-year growth continue to accelerate.

With increasing difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent, procurement teams are going to be asked to do the dreaded  By streamlining and satisfying your procurement processes, using a Collaborative Procurement contract can be one of the tools in your toolkit to help you achieve what can often be a difficult goal to achieve – doing more with less.

If you are considering leveraging a Collaborative Procurement contract but have procurement questions, we would suggest that you reach out to our partners as they are the procurement experts whose job it is to help organizations navigate their Collaborative Procurement journey.

Please visit our Collaborative Procurement page of our website or visit our partners at:

www.sourcewell.mn.gov

www.oecm.ca

www.canoeprocurementgroup.ca

Asset Management is Change Management

When I speak with clients or prospects about increasing their team’s focus on Facility and Infrastructure Asset Management, almost all of them want to sprint out of the gates.

“Who are the leaders in our space, and what are they doing?” are often mentioned early in the conversation.  Although this is an admirable goal, as we start to look at what it will take to become world class, most organizations are closer to the beginning of the journey.

Trying to go from an average, or below average, position to  world class will fail as you will exceed your organization’s and your team members’ capacity for change.  It doesn’t matter if you are focusing on Capital Planning Excellence, Operational Excellence or Performance Excellence, any improvement will require significant change to many existing processes, procedures and day-to-day activities.

Every organization, due to its history, culture and team members has an inherent capacity for change.  It is critical that the leaders of any Asset Management program or project has a clear understanding of their team’s capacity for change.

We always recommend that you build a plan that you feel slightly exceeds your team’s capacity for change.  You don’t want to aim to low and invest a lot of time and money and not have a real impact.  You also don’t want to aim too high and lose commitment and accountability if the goal is out of reach.

I always say, go a little beyond where you think your comfort zone is. The ability to change is like a muscle;  the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  Most asset management projects have longer schedules (beyond a few weeks or months) and as such, the early changes that you make or implement will “loosen the team up” and should allow you to get a little further than you think you will.

Besides, if you are going to do something, why not set a stretch goal that makes you slightly uncomfortable.  Growth only occurs when you stretch.

There are a lot of factors that go into a successful AM program or project roll-out.  As you begin to look at your organization’s journey, just don’t forget to clarify what your team’s ability and willingness to change is.  Doing so will bring you and your team one step closer to truly Integrated Asset Management.

 

 

 Imagine Throwing Away $100,000 (or a lot more)!

As an individual I cannot imagine anyone that would not cringe at the thought of just throwing away $100,000.  However, I have seen organizations do this time and time again.  They are not literally taking a stack of bills and tossing them into a garbage can.  However, when you hire someone to collect data on your facility and/or site infrastructure you might as well be if you don’t take an active role during the project.

“I just want to get a report”

“So and so told me that we had to, so we better just do it…”

“We don’t really know what we need so….”

“I hope we get what we are looking for…”

These are the kind of thoughts and motivations that often lead organizations to waste large amounts of money and time on Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs), Equipment Inventory & Tagging, Energy Audits and/or Accessibility Assessments, and getting very little of value in return.

Gathering consistent and defensible data on your facility and infrastructure portfolio is well worth the investment.  However, it is not something that can be done solely by a third party.  You must be prepared to no only invest your money, but also your time, and the time of your team members that have the most knowledge of your buildings and assets.

The best assessment professional and/or assessment team will never be able to visually capture sufficient information when compared to the knowledge that exists in the heads of your colleagues.  We recognize that nearly every Facility Management team has been asked “to do more with less” in the last decade plus, and finding time to spend with assessment teams can seem like a lower priority than putting out fires and actually fixing your buildings.

However, without that institutional knowledge working its way into your data and reports, you are most likely just throwing good money after a bad outcome.  Invest your time AND your money in the collection of consistent and defensible data to allow your organization to make better decisions and improve the quality and performance of your facility and infrastructure portfolio.

Best Professional Development Podcasts

I am an avid lifelong learner.  It has always been hard to succeed if you stop learning once you finish school.  However, the world is evolving so quickly now that you can become obsolete in a matter of years, whereas not that long ago you could get on pretty well for a few decades before you started to get stale as a professional.

My preferred methods of learning while driving, walking and running on the treadmill (when I can resist the lure of Netflix!) is podcasts.  I started listening to podcasts around the time that I founded Roth IAMS (2014).  Back then the choices were fairly limited, one or two for each area of interest or category.

Thankfully podcasting has exploded in recent years.  Last I heard there were over 2.5 Million podcasts available (this was a while ago so I am sure the number is even greater)!  Now instead of clamoring for content, I struggle to find the needles in a haystack from all of the choices.

I thought I would share my go-to podcasts on Business and Leadership (and a couple of bonus non-business ones) in hopes that it gives you some ideas on new ones to add to your playlist.

Business and Leadership Related

  • Maxwell Leadership Podcast
  • John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast
  • Entreleadership Podcast
  • At the Table with Patrick Lencioni
  • The Working Genius Podcast
  • The Advanced Selling Podcast
  • Read to Lead
  • Work Life with Adam Grant
  • A Bit of Optimism (Simon Sinek)
  • Manager Tools
  • Business Made Simple
  • Marketing Made Simple
  • Getting Things Done
  • HBR Idea Cast
  • Look and Sound of Leadership

Non-Business

  • Marketplace
  • Revisionist History (Malcolm Gladwell)
  • Against the Rules (Michael Lewis)
  • Freakonomics Radio

All I ask in return is that you share with me your favorites if they are not already on my list.  I am always looking for ideas on new ones to listen to.  You can either reply in the comments section below or email me directly at bill.roth@rothiams.com

Happy listening (and learning)!

Why We Chose Facility and Asset Management? Part 2

In 2019, my grandmother spent considerable time in the hospital as a result of complications from a routine surgery.  She was admitted to the same hospital that my maternal grandmother had passed away in when I was 12.  I had not been back to the hospital since that time.  However, when I walked through the main entrance I had a weird sense of déjà vu.  The place looked almost exactly the same.  I felt like I had travelled 30 years back in time, only things looked more dated and aged.

It was actually the same hospital that I was born in, but I don’t remember much of what it looked like back then (probably pretty close to the same though if I had to guess!).

Seeing my other grandmother recovering in a room that looked eerily similar to the same room where I said goodbye to my mother’s mom 30 year earlier hit me really hard.  Having been in more modern hospitals, I have seen the state of the art healing environments that many people have in their communities.  Visiting this smaller, more rural hospital was a stark reminder that many people are still being treated in buildings that were cutting-edge 40 or more years ago.

Although I felt pretty good about the progress we have made since visiting that elementary school in 2002, this visit reminded me that we still had a long way to go and reinforced in me the importance of addressing deferred capital renewal and maintenance as a way to help the world.

Patients deserve the best environment for healing and recovering.  Students deserve to attend schools where the buildings support and promote learning .  Everyone that spends any time inside a building deserves a safe and healthy environment.

For me personally, my personal mission is to do whatever I can to help make this a reality for everyone!

If you are reading this blog, I am going to assume that you too share my, and our passion, for improving the built environment.  I would love to the origin story of your “Why” in the comments.

Why we Chose Facility and Asset Management? Part 1

One of our core values is Passionate.  I often get asked why I am personally so passionate about what we do at Roth IAMS.  There are two specific experiences that always stick in my mind that I always seem to come back to when I think about my “why”.

One of them occurred many years ago at an earlier stage of my career, and the second more recently after I had founded Roth IAMS and was over 20 years into my career journey.  These two events highlight the driving force behind why I personally have put so much of my energy into improving the world of Facility and Asset Management.

The first experience occurred back in 2002.  My team and I had started a major project to assess thousands of K-12 elementary schools.  I was lucky enough to have been asked to manage this project, the biggest in our company at the time.  As part of our pilot program, I accompanied our assessment team to several of the first schools that we were assessing.  On this project, the client selected some of the schools in the worst condition to start with.

During one of the visits to an elementary school, we came across an open door (actually the door was missing as it had failed and been removed previously) with two orange pylons in front of it.  When we looked into the room it housed several large pieces of electrical equipment and there was water all over the floor, caused, I believe by a recent heavy rain event.  When asked by our team, the school staff indicated that at the time they had not been allocated the money to fix the door or the leaks that allowed the water into the room.

I was shocked that there were young kids running around that could easily have wandered into the electrical room, which would have been bad enough, let alone with standing water on the floor.  In that moment, I realized that impact of underfunding facility maintenance and renewal was having on the world in which I was living.

Luckily, there is a happy ending to this story.  Once completed, the data we collected helped to secure over $4 Billion of renewal funding for the school sector, allowing School Boards to address the most significant renewal needs, and to close some of the schools in the worst condition.  I later found out that this particular school was one of the ones that was replaced as part of the program.

Introducing our New Blog

Welcome to our new Blog.  I am Bill Roth, President & CEO of Roth IAMS.  It has been a while since we have posted blogs on a regular basis.  However, with the launch of our new website we want to continue to find ways to provide value to our clients, partners, followers and all members of our community.

This blog will be a bit different from our other channels.  This will be a venue for me to share thoughts on various topics, but not limited to things just related to Facility and Asset Management.  At Roth IAMS, my leadership team and I spend just as much time focusing on leadership, building a strong corporate culture and living our values as we do on evolving all the areas of our practice.

Years ago I had a personal blog entitled “Ramblings of a Success Junkie”.  In speaking recently with Katherine (Wood, our Manager, Marketing) she suggested, without knowing about the existence or title of my previous blog , that we should use the blog as a place for me to ramble on about different topics.  In appreciation of Katherine’s sage suggestion, I would like to suggest that this blog will unofficially be called the “Ramblings of an Asset Management Junkie”.

I also want to  encourage you to follow our other social channels including Linkedin, Vimeo, Instagram, and our soon-to-be launched Webinar series, and keep visiting our website where we will be sharing lots of information, white papers, and other news about our world.

Part of our vision of solving the world’s deferred capital renewal and maintenance backlog crisis is focused on education and awareness of the issues and potential solutions.  We are looking to use all of these channels to achieve this goal.

I hope that you will join me for the ride. I look forward to your feedback and comments and engaging in dialogue through the blog about Facility Asset Management and whatever other topics we ramble on about.

Dealing With a ”K-Shaped” Recovery in Facility Asset Management

As we begin to come out of COVID-19 we are starting to see evidence that different clients are preparing for very different phases of their Asset Management Programs.

In some cases, clients are expecting a windfall from various government stimulus plans.

In other cases, clients are looking to retrench and are preparing for a period of reduced funding. This two-tiered recovery has been called K-Shaped since different organizations and sectors are preparing for very different situations.

Even though the situation will be very different depending on which side of the “K” that your organization is facing, the one thing that remains true is that you and your organization need a data-driven, prioritized, multi-year capital plan.

The Top Half of the “K” – Up and to the Right – Generational Windfall

For the lucky organizations that have received or plan to be on the receiving end of increased funding coming out of COVID-19, it might seem as though having a solid plan is not as necessary since you have, or will have, more money than you can spend in some cases.

However, this logic does not hold. It is easy to spend money, but it is not always easy to spend money wisely. Your team’s priority should be to spend the available money in the wisest way that will be most beneficial to your operations. This can include exploring upgrades and new technologies that will lower operational costs, improve functional performance and/or address grandfathered and other code issues. This is where a Multivariable Prioritization (MVP) process can assist in integrating organizational objectives and mission-related considerations into our plans.

We have observed many different sectors receive funding increases over the years only to see market conditions change dramatically due to misalignment with supply and demand. For instance, following the School Renewal Initiative, Ontario District School Boards (Boards) received a significant increase in capital renewal funding that continues to this day.

Disruption of the Supply/Demand Curve

In the early days of the funding, the Boards and the markets in which they operate were unprepared for the increased funding. For many major building components (e.g. roof, HVAC, pavement, etc.) the Boards were competing for limited supply in their markets and prices increased significantly.

We heard anecdotes of roofing contractors putting forth inflated bids they had no intention of winning and being picked. Ultimately, what this meant was that the amount of Deferred Capital Renewal and Maintenance (DCRM) that was being addressed was far less than the money required to pay for it.

This was especially true for Tier 2 markets, where they were used to drawing contractors for larger markets. The need in the core market was so high that some Boards could not even get contractors to bid on work in their area as there was too much demand “close to home” for the contractors.

This not only impacted the Boards, but everyone else in the market (Colleges, Universities, Hospitals, Municipalities, Private Owners and Managers) had to deal with limited availability to contractors and materials and increased costs.

Internal Capacity Challenges

In addition to the market challenges, many Boards simply did not have the resources to effectively manage the new volume of projects. Due to funding quirks, the additional renewal money could not be used to hire new staff.

Other Boards went to outside consultants to support them in executing their additional work. However, this generally resulted in increased costs as well, when compared to using internal resources.

What Happened?

The result was that many Boards have ended up deferring available renewal funding for in some cases multiple years as there were simply not enough resources to do the work.

Having available funding sitting there and ongoing important DCRM needs is not a situation that any stakeholder involved in the sector wanted.

Over time the market adjusted, and Boards and other market participants began to get more strategic in how they built their multi-year capital plans, considering their own internal capacity issues as well as market limitations.

Stay tuned for our next blog post in this series.

Roth IAMS Awarded Sourcewell Contract

Canadian-based Facility and Infrastructure Asset Management company, Roth IAMS is pleased to announce that they were the highest ranked proponent awarded a cooperative purchasing contract for Facility Assessment and Planning services with Sourcewell.

Sourcewell is a self-sustaining government agency offering a cooperative purchasing program with more than 400 competitively solicited contracts to government, education, and nonprofit entities throughout North America. By utilizing Sourcewell contracts, participating agencies save time and money by capturing the buying power of more than 50,000 organizations.

The award by Sourcewell followed a rigorous Request for Proposal process resulting in contracts that meet or exceed local procurement requirements.
 


 

“We are very excited to partner with Sourcewell as we expand across Canada and into the U.S. and continue to strive to achieve our vision of solving the world’s deferred capital renewal and maintenance backlog crisis,” said Bill Roth, President, Roth IAMS.

“From Preventative Maintenance Planning to Facility Condition Assessments and beyond, Roth IAMS takes a data-driven approach to ensure we are providing our clients with the right tools and information to make informed decisions when it comes to renewing the built environment,” added Roth.

The Roth IAMS LLC launch into the U.S. market enables clients from coast-to-coast across North America to leverage the Sourcewell partnership to support and enhance their on-going Asset Management programs.

Learn more about Sourcewell at sourcewell-mn.gov, and its contract with Roth IAMS at rothiams.com/sourcewell.

A Tribute to Tim Marshall

On May 4, the Roth IAMS family sadly lost one of its most important members. Tim Marshall passed away suddenly while recovering from major surgery as part of his battle with cancer. Tim was doing well post-surgery. He was eating well, participating in a fitness routine and was in his normal good spirits. In fact, he had told me he hoped to be back to work in four to six weeks the last time I spoke to him.

I don’t know exactly how to sum up 17 years of friendship in words, but I am going to try.

I first met Tim in 2003 when we were both working on the Ontario School’s Province-Wide Condition Assessment Program. I can still remember the call with Roy Shore, then President of PPTI, to tell me about their new Project Manager. Roy said to me “I think you will really get along with him.” As usual, Roy was right.

Ever since then, we have been continuous colleagues in various forms and with various companies. I hired Tim twice during the last 10 years and in the intervening times, his firm and mine were always business partners, mainly due to Tim’s presence at the other firms.

We bonded over our love of our work and the love of our children. The two topics always kept us with lots of things to talk about as we spent many hours in cars and on planes heading to client meetings, sales presentations, and company meetings. Although there is isn’t a lot of positivity that has come out of the COVID-19 situation that we find ourselves in, one of the things I am most grateful for is that Tim’s daughter Jennifer was home from the Bahamas, where she lives normally.

This meant that Tim had Jennifer and her husband by his side through the diagnosis, the surgery, the recovery and right up to his passing. He told me how wonderful it was the last time we spoke.

In 2014, just before I started Roth IAMS, while my family and I were on vacation, mine and Tim’s mutual friend and colleague Roy passed away unexpectedly. Tim was the one who called to tell me. We shared our grief and attempted to cheer each other up by laughing and remembering the good times the three of us had had. Tim and I spoke of Roy often over the years, most recently just before Tim’s diagnosis. Our friendship and shared memories of Roy were another bond that Tim and I had.

Tim became a trusted sounding board for me to bounce ideas off of. I always knew I would get a straight answer from Tim. I knew if he told me he thought something was a good idea, it was. I also knew if he told me I was full of sh** (his words not mine!) that I should go back to the drawing board for a second look.

Over the past two years, as we began to develop our asset management software, SLAM, I spent more time with Tim than any of my other colleagues. His insight and understanding of both the consulting and software side of the business was invaluable to me and the rest of the SLAM team. I am so grateful for his contribution to the product, as well as for this time that I got to spend with him.

Tim took great pride in his service and was a proud veteran. It is funny because we never really talked a lot about his service, maybe it was because he felt that I couldn’t relate. However, recently, on the last business trip that I took with Tim, we had dinner with our colleague David Neufeld in Regina. David and Tim (both veterans) shared stories the entire dinner. I probably heard more about Tim’s service during that dinner than I had in the previous decade. I am so very thankful that I had that opportunity because it allowed me to hear about a part of Tim’s life that, until that point, hadn’t been that visible to me.

I will always regret that I never got the opportunity for Tim to show me how to scuba dive, despite his many attempts to do so. I will always remember the many stories of his frequent diving trips and I loved to see the photos he would take of the latest marine life that he encountered. It was a true passion for Tim. A lesson I have learned through all of this is to make the most of everyday and not to let any opportunities pass you by.

Tim’s too soon departure will leave a void in the Roth IAMS and SLAM teams, that we will never truly fill. He was a friend, a colleague, and a mentor to us all. I know that by drawing on the mentorship, the leadership, and the hard work that Tim put into the firm, we will continue to grow stronger in the future. I know that somewhere Tim is looking down on us, probably with a cold beer, cheering us on. I can almost hear him saying “get over it and move forward, there is lots of work to do.” Tim’s legacy will drive our team forward to achieve new heights, built on the foundation that Tim was a key part in laying.

We will miss you my friend. We are all better for having known you and the mark you left on our lives will never be forgotten! Say hi to Roy for us!