Physical Facilities Management: Software Tools to the Rescue PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darrell Redford   
Thursday, 06 August 2009

We rely on a variety of software packages in the Physical Facilities Department (PFD). One of these, Facilities Management Automated Tools (FMAT), is home grown. It has been developed over the past eight years using mainly Active Server Pages (.ASP) and JavaScript, technology that is now fairly outdated.

FMAT handles an enormous amount of information. It keeps track of everything the Church owns for tens of thousands of properties—buildings, parking lots, ball fields, hymnbooks, furnaces, chairs, light bulbs, ceiling tiles, cleaning equipment, desks, computers, carpet, benches—everything. It manages this information for ecclesiastical purposes and for physical and preventative management. For example, FMAT keeps track of all operational expenses, repairs, improvements, and new facility work. It tracks every work order and every item being worked upon.

This data ties into a complex array of connections, databases, and interfaces. We must provide budgets reports for DTAs, regional managers, managing directors, and anyone else involved. It is a huge system.

We have found that as we migrate to the new .NET framework (and soon to the Windows 2003 server platform) our jobs have become easier. There are many new tools and software libraries that just do not exist with .ASP that are integrated into .NET. Our developers like it even better than Java.  Bugs have been significantly reduced.

Even with all that FMAT does, we have over 50 projects in the pipeline to upgrade the system to match the true globalization of the Church’s facilities management. We can now get to the root of the problem, provide tools for the users, and focus resources on new development instead of maintenance.

To make our reporting accurate, we need to have FMAT emulate how Church financial software handles funds – especially international currencies – without causing reporting discrepancies. We hope that by using the new foundation tools, and the freed developer time created with these new tools, we can greatly diminish the cost and speed the development of this critical aspect of managing the resources of the Church.

The goal is to provide all levels of management with the proper data for making decisions that affect the global efforts of the Church.

Darrell Redford is a senior technical program manager.

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