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Necessity may be the mother of invention, but technology is the mother of productivity. Noted anthropologist Jane Goodall, in her studies of chimpanzees, observed a few clever chimps making simple tools from twigs, tools which allowed them to collect a greater number of tasty termite snacks. (Apparently they taste like chicken.) The chimps’ food productivity was increased by the application of technology.

The link between technology and productivity is, of course, the driving force behind the lifestyle we enjoy today. Like other management sectors, facilities management applies technology to improve operational productivity and support overall organizational productivity. From space-efficient mobile shelving to RFID inventory management and document conversion databases, FM pros routinely boost their department’s productivity with the best technology available.

But technology on its own does not improve productivity. Technology has to be applied by people, and facilities managers find themselves managing people as much as they manage space. Brendan Robinson, who leads the FM team at Under Armour, emphasizes the importance of dialogue as well as data. FM software delivers data which Robinson then uses to begin a problem-solving dialogue with his team – part of Under Armour’s culture of continuous improvement.

And the dialogue should be a true two-way street, according to Robinson. Interviewed in FacilitiesNet.com, he said, “So we trust our front line teammates with the real challenges and the real messy data and information that leadership is trying to grapple with when making decisions. And then they reward us with their real challenges and the opportunities that they see every day when they’re doing their jobs.” Robinson’s policy of listening to his team’s boots-on-the-ground analyses has helped him build a strong team that takes ownership of their work and feels empowered to make decisions.

Managing human capital is one of the primary qualifications for a skilled FM professional. Combined with the right FM technology, the people who make up the facility manager’s team (including an outside storage consultant) will make any facility function more productively and enhance the organization’s bottom line. Just don’t reward the team with termite snacks.

 

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