Military installations the world over must successfully plan, contract, monitor and manage their facilities construction and maintenance. The Construction and Facilities Management Office (CFMO) at the Army National Guard (ARNG) is no different. The CFMO maintains thousands of facilities across the country, with a presence in 2,759 communities in 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia. Facilities total more than 170 million square feet. These installations play a critical role in our Nation’s defense. The Journal of ARNG’s 2016 issue of Foundations of Readiness describes the critical role played by its installations:
“These facilities are where our Soldiers train, and where State and Federal response missions are staged. In order to effectively meet State and National Defense requirements, the facilities need to be adequately sized, correctly configured, and strategically located. This, in turn, requires an overarching strategy for facilities investment.”
Project and Infrastructure Data Challenges
With so many installations, the CFMO struggled to maintain and access project and infrastructure data. Not all the records were available electronically nor were they centrally located making it challenging to access information quickly while ensuring reliability of that data. Furthermore, with ARNG staff always prepared to support their active duty counterparts, key personnel can often be deployed leaving gaps in institutional knowledge necessary for the CFMO office’s daily operations. The team realized that a different process was needed to increase efficiency, improve audit compliance, and create a single point of reference for project information.
Without well documented processes and a centralized management system, standards were difficult to enforce, revisions to projects and documents were difficult to track, and resources were stretched.
The CFMO staff engaged with an IMAGINiT Technologies, a Rand Worldwide Company, and a leading provider of enterprise solutions to the engineering community, including the building, manufacturing, civil and mapping industries. IMAGINiT’s charter was to analyze their procedures and bring continuity to accurate as-built records all contained within an easily accessible central repository. The consulting team approached the engagement in two phases. The first stage was workflow and process mapping, followed by data development and information sharing work.
Capturing Organizational Best Practices with Process Mapping
The process mapping effort has been valuable for several reasons. The process map clearly outlines ARNG best practices and captures what the team must do to meet regulatory requirements. Together with process mapping, documentation was produced which clearly provides instruction for any new or existing ARNG staff. Staff members have clear standard operating procedures. By illustrating the team’s work, the process mapping exercise has set the stage for continuous process improvement.
Another benefit of the process map is that it forms the foundation for the digital data management solution. The CFMO team wanted to ensure that the new project database was aligned with the organization’s processes. While the group has adopted new approaches to storing and managing data, the digital data management solution has not altered any of the team’s underlying processes. Alignment between the database and organizational processes ensures that the right information is captured. An advantage of the resulting database is that it includes configuration management information, as well as the digital documents.
Data Development and Visualization
The second stage of the project was laser scanning facilities and converting them to 3D models. These models provide highly accurate, as-built information about the facilities and are augmented with additional information, such as the amount of money spent on buildings, percent completion of projects, square footage reports, room composition, and more. Since 3D models provide line-of-sight information, they have the potential to be leveraged in emergency response situations.
The models have also been integrated with a web-based visualization tool making it possible for authorized CFMO users to view a map of the state, zoom in on a specific ARNG facility, click to bring up 3D maps of the facility, and look at specific rooms.
CFMO envisions sharing this tool with all ARNG sites within its jurisdiction. Each site employs a facility manager that works with the CFMO, providing these manages with access to documents online through the mapping tool would save time for the team. A longer term vision is to link the visualization tool to building controls which would enable facility managers to monitor and control heating, air conditioning, security, and more from mobile devices.
Using a Central Database to Store and Share Project Information
The project information system saves time for team members and puts greater control in the hands of users. If city officials need to schedule a facility or retrieve existing lease agreements, this data can be searched for and accessed through an online search. The database saves time for everyone – staff members are not interrupted to assist, and those in need are able to access the data as needed.
Storing project information in digital form and in a centralized database also reduces the risk of lost or damaged paper drawings. Recently, an external audit was conducted on the Environmental Department of the CFMO. The Environmental Department’s program is based on ISO 14000 standards which includes data management requirements. The audit resulted in a positive finding since all documents residing with the department were archived and accessible through the database.
Executive leadership sees the process mapping, database, and visualization effort as a solid foundation for future work that the CFMO may do as part of the Army Communities of Excellence initiative. This program assesses the dimensions of installation management based on the tenets of the Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.
According to CFMO leaders, “the expertise, innovation, and technology that IMAGINiT Technologies has provided has proven to be the cornerstone for establishing a process that will improve the function of the Construction and Facilities Management Office from multiple perspectives to include data management, audit compliance, and information integrity.”
Featured image courtesy of the Army National Guard.