As part of our Next-Gen Facility Manager series, we are getting to know some of the professionals that are moving their school district's facility management programs into the future. Our first conversation is with Joe Magliocca, Director of Facilities III at Elmira City School District in New York. Joe talks about change management practices with his staff and how technology is helping him and his staff make better decisions.
MasterLibrary: What are some important skills you think a next gen facility manager needs to have that was maybe not as important 10 or 20 years ago?
Joe Magliocca: Obviously, technology plays a huge factor in the work that we do today and into the future. Facility Managers are going to need to be able to keep up with technology and the internet of things (IoT) in order to make competent business decisions in the future in regards to facilities management. Speaking of business decisions, a competent FM will need to have more understanding of the business side of things, and making important decisions on systems life cycle will impact business decisions down the road. I think in some respect, we rely heavily on our consultants to determine when to replace critical facility infrastructure based on “expected life.” There is a lot to be said about predictive maintenance, but extending the life of critical facility systems based on actual performance vs. expected life are all decisions that need to be made by competent facility managers.
ML: What are some strategies that have worked for you in terms of getting your team to adopt technology?
JM: Well, I often explain the importance of us keeping pace with industry, and industry is transforming from a paper-based world to a digital world. There are always learning curves, and I dedicate time when possible to working one on one with staff when it comes to new technology. I think for the most part, people are open to technology because they recognize the benefit and how it’s actually less work for them. I share key performance indicators (data) that technology helps produce, and help them realize the value of an integrated workplace. I think for the most part, if I can get people to “try it,” the results are usually positive.
ML: What are some of the roadblocks to getting staff to adopt technology?
JM: The mentality of “this is how we’ve always done it.” That is certainly the biggest roadblock. Once you get beyond this hurdle, I think that the adoption of technology requires significant training, checking in, and re-evaluating technology use. When we meet as a group, I always ask how specific things are going related to technology, and allow people to talk about issues they are having, and problem solve. A lot of times, their peers help them resolve the issues, and I just mediate the conversation. The early adopters are most often the on the job trainers and help with avoidance of roadblocks down the road.
ML: Does your district have a vision for the school of the future (especially during the pandemic) and what role does the facilities department play in it?
JM: I would say that all districts have a vision for the school of the future, regardless of the current situation we have with the pandemic. I think the value of the facilities department in these times garners a greater respect for the work we do. There is more emphasis now on cleaning and proper ventilation that greatly affects IAQ and the environment that our students learn in. This situation has forced everyone to better understand the importance of the facilities department in the educational field.
ML: How has technology improved the quality of your work?
JM: I think technology helps support the work I do everyday, and simplifies certain tasks in order to make quick decisions. For obvious reasons, I think technology helps with communication (email, capital project coordination, etc), work flow (work orders), facility documentation (EFR, record keeping, etc.), time management (calendars, work orders, etc.) and building automation (HVAC) to name a few. I think that the sky is the limit in the future, as we continue the use of these systems, as well as introduction of new systems (analytics). I am most excited about the analytics piece, as analytics helps drive decisions through data.
ML: How has technology helped you become more strategic?
JM: I think today’s world is data driven. Making sound business decisions requires a thorough review of key performance indicators and historical data. As analytics become more and more common, the data collected from building systems will help us become better at what we do. Now, instead of replacing a mechanic unit or piece of equipment just because it’s reached a certain age, we can use data and KPI’s to make decisions about system replacements. With the mentality of do more with less requires us to be more strategic in our planning efforts, and technology allows us the opportunity to do this.
ML: What kinds/types of technology are essential in your world?
JM: Computers, mobile devices, IoT devices, networks are obviously critical pieces of technology to our world now. I think as technology advances, IoT devices will become ever more integral to our daily workplace. Building automation and control continues to evolve, and are becoming even more critical as we continue to build out systems that analyze data to predict failures with mechanical and building systems. Life safety systems (fire, security, public address) are also critical systems to keeping our environment safe and sound for building occupants.
ML: What do you think will be the biggest change in your industry in the next 10 years?
JM: I believe that the labor pool in the future will be drastically different than the labor pool of 20 years ago. Building mechanics will be required to be system specialists. Training will look very different, as on the job training will require pre-requisites of education or trade schools. Our industry will need to evolve or we will end up outsourcing a lot of the work. Finding qualified mechanics for complex systems will continue to be a challenge we face. Automation will also change the industry, as labor shortages will require equipment to run autonomously. Additionally, I think that IoT will improve our preventative and predictive maintenance practices. As discussed before, I envision IoT providing analytics about systems before critical failure occurs.