By Jeff Crane, P.E., LEED® AP
Published in the December 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
When evaluating goals for 2008, facility managers (fms) might consider this column a resource for Web-based “favorite tools.” (And while none of the recommended sites have paid for the author’s use or endorsement, most columnists do appreciate cash gratuities in inconspicuous envelopes.)
TFM Article Archive: Before sifting through a seemingly infinite number of articles, white papers, statistics, advertisements, and research available via the Internet, the TFM Web site offers an excellent starting point for anyone interested in facilities management (FM) research. There might even be a few applicable FM Frequency articles in these search results.
Yahoo! search engine (www.yahoo.com): I’ve been using Yahoo! for ages and consider it to be a powerful tool that can help me find just about anything. Since my initial surfing expeditions, my relationship with Yahoo! has grown to include free e-mail service (no storage limits) and fantasy football. Like almost everyone, I use the verb phrase “to Google” (as in, “I Googled your fiancée’s name. Did you know she was a Russian double agent?”), but Yahoo! is my search engine of choice.
Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com): Astute fms must be aware of important financial news, particularly politics that could impact the economy. They must also be aware of the status of industries specifically served by their organizations. Even small, private companies can be affected by local and global shifts. In my opinion, the Wall Street Journal offers an alternative to sensationalistic drivel offered in many local and national news outlets.
The Drudge Report (www.drudgereport.com): In addition to the hard news that can be gathered from the Wall Street Journal, fms still need a Web based source for real time political firestorms, celebrity scandals, controversial gossip, and other intriguing news of the day. I consider the Drudge Report an excellent clearinghouse of domestic and international information and links to interesting video clips. When radio programs feature “morons in the news,” “dumb crook” segments, and other oddball stories, they’re usually already posted on Drudge Report.
Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org): As a free, online, “collaborative encyclopedia,” Wikipedia is a convenient tool for anyone who thinks research only resides at a public library. According to the site, Wikipedia has over 75,000 active contributors working in 250+ languages. Suppose the IT manager requests FM200 in the data center, but the fm thinks she’s asking for a specific radio station. A quick Wiki search reveals an article on FM200 fire suppression (another name for FE-227) with links to manufacturers, trade names, and the MSDS information for Heptafluoropropane.
Franklin Covey (www.franklincovey.com): The exhilaration of daily unpredictability requires fms to be adept time managers. Mastering these skills can be more of a journey than a destination when success requires constant effort and discipline. Franklin Covey offers excellent (and affordable) tools and training opportunities for honing these skills.
Microsoft Office Online Help (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx): For organizations using the Microsoft Office suite of products, a valuable source of information and training is on the Web, and it’s completely free. Anyone who has made a desperate call for software advice might be impressed with the powerful help features on Microsoft’s site. It might just be one of the best kept secrets on the Web.
EPA Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) reference materials (www.epa.gov/iaq): The EPA has compiled a comprehensive collection of tools, checklists, and inspection forms for fms dealing with IAQ preventive maintenance or troubleshooting specific complaints. For schools, office buildings, and other facilities, this is a comprehensive and important resource that can be combined with guidance from the fm’s insurance provider.
U.S. Green Building Council (www.usgbc.org): As green building construction and operations gain popularity, USGBC offers reference materials, education, and the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) series of certifications. The Web site contains helpful information about the USGBC mission, construction and operational best practices, professional accreditation, and local workshops.
Google Earth (http://earth.google.com/): Google Earth combines high resolution satellite imagery and mapping tools. With it, fms can develop maintenance plans, measure property areas, or clarify scopes of work involving asphalt, landscaping, roofing, etc. And for fantastic (albeit virtual) “facilities tours,” Google Earth can be used for visits to famous structures such as the Vatican, the White House, the Great Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and other fascinating landmarks.
Salary Surveys from IFMA (www.ifma.org/tools/research/profiles_07.cfm; 64 pages, $149) and TFM (facilityexecutive.com/tfm_06_07_cover.php): Fms interested in comparing responsibilities, qualifications, and compensation with peers should consider these excellent references. Both surveys feature data collected from thousands of fms.
Despair.com (www.despair.com): Mingling conventional wisdom with a deliciously twisted sense of humor, this site offers an interesting version of motivational (or “demotivational”) slogans with sayings such as, “COMPROMISE: Let’s agree to respect the views of each other, no matter how wrong yours may be.” With clever posters, clothing, coffee mugs, calendars, and a book entitled The Art of Demotivation, this site provides wonderful comedic therapy to brighten even the worst day.
Have a very happy and safe holiday season and Happy New Year!
Crane is a mechanical engineer and regional property manager with Childress Klein Properties, a leading real estate developer and property management services provider in the Southeast.