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APPA 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibition Recap

APPA 2019 – Preparing You For The Future

APPA members recently gathered in the Denver, CO – the Mile High City – July 15-17 marking another successful conference full of networking opportunities with colleagues new and old, educational sessions, and a vibrant Hall of Resources exhibiting the latest products & services from APPA Business Partners.

Technology & Data

Collecting and utilizing data for facilities has been a topic at APPA events for several years, but as the topic area matures with more institutions integrating data collection and application into their facilities departments, new opportunities – as well as new challenges – arise.  “It’s another facet of ‘the seat at the table’ we’ve been pushing for decades.” – Mary Vosevich, vice president for Facilities Management at the University of Kentucky and a past APPA president.

Collecting Data

APPA’s Facilities Performance Indicators Survey and Report is launching its next generation, FPI 2.0, which features updated ways to enter and display data.  “Data is one of the few ways we’re going to survive in FM,” said Ted Weidner of Perdue University during the FPI 2.0 – A New Spin on Your Data breakout session.

Applying Data

In his session Moving Beyond the Big Picture, Weidner encouraged the use of a “micro FPI” approach to compare buildings within the same campus, as well as participating in the broader inter-campus FPI program.  Weidner related how red flags raised by comparing building energy consumption per GSF on Perdue’s campus identified some anomalies their Facilities Management team was able to investigate and fix to bring those buildings’ energy consumption into alignment.

“Data is math.  It leads to focus.  It shows were risk falls on a probability scale,” said John D’Angelo, assistant vice president of Facilities Services at The Univerity of Chicago, in the session Data Driven Change Execution Tools Using FPI & Other Data Sources.  “Putting things in terms of risk feeds into the Enterprise Risk Management mindset of upper management.”  The University of Chicago uses FPI and other data with front-line and mid-level managers to identify challenges and risks and to drive change within their department centers.  “Involving chief electrical and mechanical engineers in preventative maintenance asset discussions allowed them to apply that feedback in larger renovation and construction projects, reducing the risk of repeating problems in the future,” said Brian Cowpert­­­­­hwaite, senior director of Operations and Maintenance at The University of Chicago. 

Technology of the Near Future

“We may still be waiting on the flying cars promised in ‘Back to the Future,’ but Uber is working on taking your rideshare experience off the road and into the sky within the next decade,” said Michael Snyder, AIA Senior Project Architect at Gannett Fleming, Inc., during the session Transforming the Campus of the Future: Preparing for Urban Air Rideshare.  For urban campuses, connecting to multi-modal centers is a transportation planning challenge that could be a reality as soon as when today’s elementary school students arrive on college campuses.

Leadership & People

The Team

Workplace culture can make or break a department.  Moving from a focus of WHAT we do (run facilities) to WHY we do it (provide an optimal environment for learning) can change perspectives, both inside and outside of the department.  “We are meaning-seeking machines,” David Mead, co-author of Find Your Why, told the general session Tuesday morning.  “If you define yourself by WHAT you do, you limit and pigeonhole yourself. When you start with WHY, results become fuel and not the goal,” Mead continued.  “Engaged employees report loyalty to their team more than to the company,” author Scott Christopher told Wednesday’s general session, The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up.  Christopher broke down levity in the workplace into three parts: Latitude – giving your employees the opportunity to lighten up and share some of themselves in the workplace; Attitude – choosing what outlook you bring to the workplace and looking for the best sides of situations; and Gratitude – frequently recognizing and thanking people for a job well-done. “Leadership needs consistency so employees can set expectations,” said Jim McConnell, associate vice president of Facilities Services at The University of Chicago in the session Creating, Cultivating, and Measuring Organizational Culture.

Campus Safety

“NFPA 3000 provides resources for communities to help plan for, respond to, and recover from incidents.  It doesn’t list prevention tips or detail local tactics,” summarized John Montes, Emergency Services Specialist for the National Fire Protection Association at the educational breakout session Understanding NFPA 3000™ (PS) Standard for Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response Program Update.  The standard is designed around four main concepts: Whole Community; Unified Command; Integrated Response; and Planned Recovery.  Facilities managers are key players in the planning and unified command, not only having the detailed knowledge of the facility and its contents, but also know what the occupants have been taught and where they may be hide.  “Practice unified command activities during regular campus events, so if something happens, you’re prepared,” Montes advised.  Planned recovery includes looking beyond the physical building and day-of impacts to include community resources to prepare for the potential short- and long-term psychological impact of post event survivors.

classroom with people siting listening to the presenter

“At the University of Alabama, the Facilities & Grounds Division implements a grounds use permitting process to help maintain organization and control over activities held on campus.  The main purpose is to ensure safety, apply consistency across submissions, protect campus resources, maintain campus beauty, and reduce campus liability,” Donna McCray, senior director of Facilities Operations & Grounds for UA, told the audience at a shared best practices session, Organized Chaos on Campus.  By defining the permit use process, the university is able to direct applicants to specific locations to reduce space conflicts, outline allowed signage requirements, and specifies the fines that are charged if the organization doesn’t remove signage and tents or damages university property, requiring the facilities department to clean or repair campus property. 

Personal & Team Organization

“Visualizing your tasks through the workflow helps identify bottlenecks,” said Nicole Sanderson, director of Finance & Customer Care at University of Washington Bothell, in the session Master Your Tasks: Personal Kanban 101.  “You can’t control it if you don’t see it.”  Kanban is a way of organizing project tasks into value streams (for example: To Do, In Process, Pending Review, Done) to help visually layout tasks for an individual or a project team.  It is customizable to fit needs, and can be done simply with a wall and post-it notes or using an online version.  “Kanban helps organize and limit works in progress.  It allows focus.  We aren’t really multi-taskers.” She used an example of throwing cereal to a dog one piece at a time, and the dog caught it.  If you throw a handful of cereal, the dog will miss most of it.  As an added bonus, keeping the slips from completed tasks allow you to refer back to get a complete picture of accomplishments when it is time for reviews and evaluations.

Celebration & Passing the Baton

During APPA 2019, we recognized 14 institutions and 23 individuals at its 2019 Awards Reception for outstanding individual and institutional achievement. For a full listing of these accomplishment, click here.

APPA 2019 allowed us to reflect on the passing the baton to the incoming 2019-2020 APPA Board of Directors.  Outgoing APPA President Don Guckert outlined a number of significant organizational changes that occurred during the past year, including the release of APPA’s strategic vision, Preparing for Every Future, developed to position the association to better meet the needs of its members.  APPA’s Incoming President Ruthann Manlet was sworn with a focus on “Cultivating Community” in the year to come.