Conversations with Bob: What sets RSC apart?

Transcript:

 

Matt: What sets RSC apart from other IWMS consultants?

 

Bob: I think that what we do really well is deliver quickly and
with good quality. I think a couple of other things are we listen to our clients, synthesize what they say to us, analyze it, and then provide them the solution they asked for, instead of giving them a “cookie-cutter” or “out-of-the-box” answer.

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Conversations with Bob: Why do companies need IWMS?

Transcript:

Megan: Why is there a need for an IWMS system and what you
provide?

 

Bob: It’s really an infant application. It’s not like accounting or architecture that have been around for decades or centuries. It’s only been around for about 35 years. What happens is when a company gets to about 2,000 employees, they begin to lose track of things. So their strategic planning, their acquisition, or reduction is very difficult for them to understand. What this system does is it allows you to graphically show your occupancy, your vacancy, where your division and departments are, your organizational breakdown visually on a floorplan, and it is live against a database so you can do some very good strategic reports. The beginning claim to fame is helping these companies to make these strategic decisions as they are growing or reducing at about 2,000 employees or greater. Now we have some companies that have about 60,000 employees, 30,000, 20,000, even 10,000, but 2,000 is the break.

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Conversations with Bob: What to Consider When Selecting an IWMS

Transcript:

Bob: One of my first speak to’s is I have a pie chart that talks about the implementation of technology. When we’re asked to go in and demonstrate an IWMS system, the client says, “Let us see the technology. We want it to go live. We want to touch it. We want to feel it.” Over the 20 years that I have been consulting in this area, I’ve come to realize that the company is focusing on the technology, and they’re almost ignoring the two larger components of technology installation, which are the business process and the relationship arena. What I mean by that is I can look at a technology: an iphone app, or an IWMS system on a laptop or a tablet and I can see that yes, it is a work order, or yes it does a lease management, yes I can track space. What the company is not asking is, “Does the workflow process in an IWMS system match our business process?” So, for example, if you have a work order system that requires a dispatcher to review it before they actually assign it, then from the assignment to have an estimate, then an approvement, then to send it to the shop lead who assigns it to the crafts person to go complete the work, then the dispatcher reviews it again, and then it goes back to finance – if that’s your work flow, but the IWMS system you’re looking at is very simplified and it only does work order to craftsperson to completion, then that’s a disconnect, and you may be spending a lot of money on an application that doesn’t meet your business process. On the converse side of that, if you have an IWMS system which is showing you all these things and you’re not doing one of those steps, you go, “Well, that’s a good idea, we never thought about that.” The IWMS system could bring a business process to light that may help you make strategic decisions. Going back to your original question, why did we choose ARCHIBUS? ARCHIBUS has the ability to make it as simple as “request, crafts person, complete” or as complicated as “request, review, dispatch, estimate, approve, shoplead, workteam, craftsperson, complete, close, financial”, and anything in between, because of its flexibility. The business process is huge, and how to accomplish things. Can the system mold to your business process, or do you have to mold to the software? Hopefully you don’t have to mold to the software. The one that’s almost more important than that is the relationship arena. The relationship arena is very real. Some people may consider it a negative thing, I don’t. It’s actually a very positive thing. If I’m trying to get an HR system load, in other words, if I’m trying to get the employees from HR, and HR goes, “Why would I want to give you that data? I don’t want to give you how much people make and what their W- 2 exemptions are and their social security number.” We would say, “Well we’re not asking for that. All we need is employee information, employee’s first name, last name, employee ID number, perhaps their phone number and where they work.” They’re going to go, “Why would I create extra work for myself?” So we have to then have a relationship where there are two departments going, “Well, look, if you give us employee data we can give you back on a real time, where these people actually work.” So if you help us, we can help you. That takes a champion, as we talked about in one of our articles. It takes a champion to work through those two departments to get that connection. That’s called relationship arena. Or, let’s say that the finance department doesn’t get along very well with the corporate real estate for some reason. There needs to be a champion there to help see the benefit on both sides.

 

I consider the business process 40% of the implementation,
and the relationship arena 40%. Technology is really only 20%. We can probably install an IWMS system, if everything went well, in only four hours. The real reason it takes several weeks, or a month, is we have IT involved, they have to make sure it fits their structure, we have to make sure that all the security measures are in place, it just takes a lot of “make sure everybody’s got everything in a line”.

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Conversations with Bob: Why ARCHIBUS?

Transcsript:

 

Megan: Why ARCHIBUS?

 

Bob: Very good question. This industry is young and I think that all the systems do a very good job and I think that all the systems have weaknesses. I have worked in the top five in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. The reason I choose ARCHIBUS, with all it’s strengths and it’s failings, is that it is the most flexible. I can, for less time and less money, create a pink elephant. If someone comes and says I want a pink elephant tracked, I can track it. We can create it, the tools are there and we can produce those unique trackings of pink elephants for any client that they want. Red balloons, pink elephants, the sky – whatever it is they want to call it.

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Conversations with Bob: Why consult on IWMS?

Transcript:

 

Megan: You were an architect, that’s what you were trained to be, so what drew you to this side?

 

Bob: I went to an architecture firm, so I thought I was going to be doing architecture, but I was introduced to the software, so it was kind of a slight of-hand. I actually think that it was the universe in alignment. I’d been looking for something that fulfilled me a little better than what I had chosen, even though I loved doing architecture. This seemed to fit very comfortably for me. I knew how to program, I was a big stickler on details, I knew AutoCad, I knew graphical space design. When we were tracking spaces for these companies, it was everything I had learned over my forty years of life all focused into one spot. It was very appealing for me. One of the other aspects that made it comfortable was that the pressure of architecture is very demanding. We are to protect the public, we are licensed in states. Our desire is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, even though we are trying to design a very beautiful space. In the IWMS world, those pressures of safety and making deadlines to the city council were gone. It relieved me of the pressure and provided meaningful information for the companies. It was a very fascinating godsend.

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Conversations with Bob: How RSC got started

Megan: Why and how did you get started on your own as Robert Stephen Consulting?
Bob: One of the fascinating things is when I was working for this architectural firm, I was placed on site for this large tech company in the Silicon Valley and after a while it became apparent that they wanted to bring me on. I wasn’t really interested in that. I wanted to stay as a consultant, and so they asked me if I would consult with them. I agreed, although they wanted me five days I said I wanted four because if I was going to do this I wanted to market and get other clients. So I went four days a week, Monday through Thursday, and then Friday I went out and marketed. Within a year we had four or five clients and two staff. That was back in 2000.
Megan: That’s exciting! How far have you grown since then?
Bob: We are fifteen and a half years. February will be sixteen years for us. We have 18 staff now. We have about 50 clients. We break them up into multiple sectors. We have high tech companies, which is what we are known for. We develop very quickly and very accurately. But we also have medical, government and entertainment. Those are the four categories.

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Conversations with Bob: What is the limit to tracking in an IWMS system?

Transcript:
Matt: IWMS systems seem to come with an infinite potential to track things. How and where do you draw the line for what to track?

 

Bob: That is an excellent question. An IWMS system comes with twenty,  thirty, forty, even fifty things that you could track. We can track everything from pencils to people, desks, furniture, jacks, lights, leases, hazardous materials. I prefer to start very simply with a client with either space management or asset tracking. We start by doing that one thing and doing it well within a two to three month period. Once that success is done, then we can do the next thing and the next and the next. Where do we draw the line? I don’t think we should draw a line. It can be infinite. We have a client that does everything except for lease management in ARCHIBUS. They do it very well.

 

However, a limiting factor may be the number of resources required to keep the data up. If I were to make sure that the IWMS system is appropriately sized, then I would make sure that we deliver the activities that they want to track in a report. For example, the billing operations module can track anything from parts, tools, craftsperson’s hours and their costs, to outside vendor’s costs.  Many of our clients don’t need that. What they want to do is track the request that has been given, how long it took to complete, and how many resources it took. We draw the line at their resources.

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Conversations with Bob: Good KPIs

Matt: Give an example of a good Key Performance Indicator, or KPI. What makes it a KPI?

Bob: A KPI for a client is understanding whether they actually are pleased with what they are delivered. The way we do that is we may do a survey monkey, or some type of survey to the client, and ask them questions like, “Did RSC provide the solution that you requested on a regular basis?” “Do we listen?” “Are we valued well?” – in other words is it the appropriate price and does it meet scope, schedule, and cost? To me, one of the most important things is scope, schedule, and cost. We pride ourselves on making ourselves meet the exact scope, schedule, and cost. In fact, RSC has a competitive advantage which says that we never ask for a change order, which means that we estimate very well. A KPI for me is, “Do we meet scope, schedule, and cost?”

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Conversations with Bob: RSC Success Stories

 

Bob: Early on in my career, a very large tech company came to me and said, “We’ve been reporting the square footage, for five years, of these eight buildings that we are getting ready to sell and your numbers in ARCHIBUS are wrong, Bob. Our real estate company came in and gave us different numbers. You have an hour to tell us where your mistake is.” I said, “Alright, give me their background data.” Within 35 to 40 minutes, I realized that they had not calculated the vertical penetration within the buildings properly. Because it was a whole building, the vertical penetration was included in the square footage, not excluded. I came back and said, “Here it is, they removed the vertical penetration which was not proper because it is a whole building according to BOMA standards.” The VP said, “Well, you’re going to work late tonight, so stick around. I am going to call the real estate agency.” The real estate representative came over within an hour. I walked all eight buildings with him and he agreed with my numbers. It saved that company about $30 million in their sale within a five hour period.

The second story is another tech company in San Francisco had purchased a company in Massachusetts. It was right at the Dot Com crash. They were doing some tenant improvements on the third floor. Those tenant improvements included 70 cubicles for one of their departments. They had realized from the vacancy/occupancy report that we had provided that they had 65 vacancies on the first and second floor. Because it was in the recession that started the Dot Com crunch they realized they were going to lose a percentage by the time they were done with the tenant improvements. So they chose to restack the first and second floors and lease out the third floor. That was a couple million dollars savings a year and those became revenues at the expense.

A very similar thing happened with a utility company in San Francisco. We did what was called “spring cleaning”. We went through and determined how many cubicles were being used for storage of books, servers, Christmas trees, and other things, and they determined that there were about 350 cubicles that they could recapture. They were able to close a building of three floors which is about a three million dollars savings per year. It’s simply because of the data we are providing.

One of our big ones is that we walked the floor for an insurance company in downtown San Francisco. They had four buildings and when we got done walking we told them they had a 50% vacancy rate. They promptly fired us and said we didn’t do the job right. So we went away and two months later they called us and said, “We walked the floors. We have a 50% vacancy. You’re rehired to help us restack.” They initially closed three of the four buildings and and moved everybody into the one building, but then they built a campus in the East Bay, simply by just tracking that data.

Those are the types of success stories we are used to.

Megan: It’s amazing that you can save companies that much
money.

Bob: Yeah, it is. It’s just by supplying data. A tech company in Silicon Valley used our MicroView HVAC electrical module to track the electrical use inside their servers. They wanted to find whether they needed a new meter, whether they need to bring more electricity in. So we helped them track all of their assets inside, tied it back to out HVAC electrical application, which then calculated how much use is being expended. Two things came out of that. First, they found that one of their new server rooms was under powered and they needed to provide more. They also needed to get more air conditioners for BTUs. But the second thing was this was 15, 20 years ago, so servers were $10,000 per server and one of the VPs had two servers for every employee that he managed, which was several hundred. The VP goes, “No, that can’t be true.” We pulled the report out, we walked the server rooms with the VP, he understood that he had two servers for every employee. He canceled a forty server order and saved the company about half a million because we had tracked and had the information.

 

Megan: That’s amazing. That’s a lot of money.

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Conversations with Bob: IWMS creates promotion opportunities!

 

Megan: What have you seen, when a company goes from spreadsheets to an IWMS, as the biggest change they notice?

 

Bob: First of all, there is a little uneasiness with some of the staff because they think their jobs are going to be replaced by technology. The reality is their job shifts. They shift from producing a couple pieces of data points because it takes so long to produce in excel or on a piece of paper, to producing tens, twenties, hundreds of pieces of data points. Now they begin to provide very strong information. I’ve watched directors be promoted to VP simply because of the data we provide. I’ve seen that on multiple occasions. In fact, there is a story of a director who walked into a meeting with a vacancy/occupancy report of the entire global portfolio. One of the VPs goes, “Where did you get this?” The director said, “Well, I got it from the IWMS system that we’ve got.” The VP called two other VPs in and said, “Did you know we had this information?” The VPs said no. From that information, the director was raised into a VP position because the data was very accurate and it helped them make strategic decisions. They found anomalies and ebbs and flows in their data and their geographic locations.

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