What increased IT and FM collaboration means for FM

by FM Media
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IT and facilities operations are becoming more integrated. PAUL TYRER, vice president Pacific for Schneider Electric IT, explores the benefits this will bring and what this means for facilities managers.

For too long, IT and facilities management have operated in silos, with only minimal collaboration and cooperation. With each silo lacking a clear picture of the other’s behaviour, the opportunity to drive greater efficiencies and cost savings has been lost.
With energy costs a key issue for organisations, however, and new government regulations calling for reduced power usage and carbon emissions, new partnerships between IT and facilities management are being forged in an attempt to increase efficiencies and drive operations costs down. Measuring and improving operations efficiency is a key factor motivating IT and facilities managers to work more cohesively together.
Energy management – which is all about optimising an organisation’s energy use by implementing strategies for energy efficiency, quality, reliability and monitoring – is an absolute must-have tool within operational arsenals. And, rather than isolating this process of energy management as an IT-only operation, facilities managers must be brought on board to get the best results and deliver energy savings right across an organisation.

The IT/facilities management partnership is neither easy nor natural. Large organisations often have layers of bureaucracy that form a barrier between IT and facilities management, making it difficult for the two groups to collaborate. Yet collaborate they must.
A key step in promoting such collaboration is to acknowledge the ‘interconnectedness’ of today’s data centre. No longer physically confined to the IT room, the data centre branches out into the building and, as such, becomes the concern of both facilities and IT.
For example, as power sub-systems span the entire building infrastructure – from the service entrance to the rack – intermittent or unreliable utility power quality at the service entrance can threaten server uptime at the rack level. Similarly, low fuel in a building generator could have a huge impact on back-up power runtime, should a data centre lose utility power. On the cooling side, overcooling at the facilities level can tax the building’s overall power load, resulting in compromised availability, unnecessary costs and wasted energy.
It becomes the responsibility of both IT and facilities management to avoid such issues and achieve maximum energy efficiency gains. To get there, IT and facilities management need to see the same, real-time information – how much electricity is being consumed, and who or what is consuming it. Armed with such facts, the groups can more easily work together to arrive at energy saving solutions.

Energy management is not an overnight solution. It is a life cycle that begins and ends with strategy. Too often companies implement software and other tools, but fail to deliver the right level of support or strategy around the tools. Policies and procedures must be developed at the same time that the software or tool is introduced. A business transformation is required.
With technology driving the evolution of traditional facilities management, it is imperative that facility managers familiarise themselves with the tools and strategies available that allow them to work in collaboration with IT. Correctly interpreting the data of these tools and understanding how they work will allow facilities managers to immediately flag concerns and relay advice to IT and/or management, thereby enabling quick and efficient solutions. Open communication across all IT departments will further enable facilities managers to isolate specific shortcomings and implement best practices across all facilities.
Electricity usage is a controllable cost in a building, yet it is only controllable when all players responsible for its usage work together to control it. As such, the future demands a situation where facilities and IT managers work together as a united front to tackle the issue of energy consumption.

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