Posted on 08/13/2015

By David Isaacson, Director, Product Marketing

Last week, a group of Accruent employees attended the APPA 2015 Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. We joined more than 500 educational facility management professionals to network, attend education sessions and get face-to-face interaction with universities and industry experts.

Accruent has attended the conference for several years and sees it as a great opportunity to connect with clients in person, while getting more insight into their current and future needs. We always come back full of ideas on how our products can be enhanced to provide our clients with the tools they need to continue efficiently managing their campuses and meet their organizations’ goals. Beyond the learnings in the breakout sessions and at our booth, the conference had a mix of social activities, including a customer dinner that we hosted at Howells & Hood in the downtown area.

This was one of Accruent’s first conferences since adding VFA Capital Planning solutions to our offerings. We had great conversations with the attendees around the value of having both CMMS and Capital Planning solutions, and it seemed to be a common theme that bringing these two functions together is becoming more important for organizations. Organizations are focused on eliminating silos within their teams and making more strategic decisions around managing their assets. We also spent time discussing what updates we have made to our FAMIS and VFA products and where these solutions are headed in the future.

Many attendees discussed common challenges revolved around managing their portfolios, understanding how technology can help, and determining how to let others know what they are doing. Many attendees wanted to show how the facilities money they were spending was being spent in the right places and was having the desired impact on their campuses. There are many questions to consider: first, did they prioritize their capital and operational expenses appropriately, justifying past spend and therefore having credibility for future investment requests? And second, what impact did the investment have on campus in terms of level of improvement.

Another interesting topic was around how to leverage technology for the future. In addition to managing existing buildings, we discussed the best ways to start managing new buildings - both from a shorter-term operational perspective, as well as a longer-term strategic capital planning perspective.

And when looking at technology, there were a number of individuals who were interested in how to move from spreadsheets to a more comprehensive maintenance management/work order management solution. One challenge that was voiced several times is how to bring their teams along, especially if they are not technology-savvy. Part of the solution discussed was to keep it simple at the start. While it was noted that there is likely to be resistance, management will need to push for change and really insist that the team adopt new technologies, and to also be prepared to help those who are having trouble with appropriate training programs.

The APPA conference is one of many facilities management shows we attend to stay updated on industry trends, news and issues. This year’s event proved to be worthwhile and we look forward to attending the ERAPPA and SRAPPA regional conferences in October. We’re also excited to play host to some of the APPA attendees at our upcoming customer conference, User Forum, in Victoria, BC!