Welcome to Theorem Concepts, a series devoted to exploring the possibilities of custom enterprise software. In this article, we’ll explore a concept that would enable companies with large facilities portfolios the ability to radically improve their maintenance budgeting.
Maintenance Management for Commercial Property Portfolios
If you manage large numbers of commercial properties, you know that determining where and when to spend your maintenance budget is both critically important and fiendishly difficult. Misallocation of that budget means increased spending as minor issues degrade and become more serious, a property that is undergoing major repairs is one that can’t generate revenue, and there are all those layers of insurance to think about.
Thankfully technology now exists to make inspections faster, more accurate, less expensive and more standardized — allowing better comparison between properties. Satellite imagery or autonomously operated drones can take pictures and videos from angles that no on-the-ground inspector can obtain. When combined with sophisticated image analysis the results are demonstrably better than traditional inspections. Theorem’s partner, DroneDeploy has built a service that harnesses these capabilities to deliver detailed imagery and comprehensive, highly accurate property reports.
DroneDeploy’s properties-focused product is a Property Inspection & Facility Management toolset. It gives managers a better look — literally and figuratively — at the condition of their properties. With DroneDeploy you can get a full exterior view of each of your properties with photos, panos, and video. Reports provide summary information and the details for each identified problem area.
DroneDeploy’s system turns visual data into automated condition assessments that are standardized, objective, and precise. Assessment summaries and the detailed information within them can be used to prioritize facilities maintenance spend with confidence. This is a truly transformational service. It gives businesses the ability to rapidly gather accurate, actionable information they can use to control costs, reduce risks, and spot new opportunities.
But what if its power could be extended beyond individual building assessments?
An 80% Solution is Not Enough
As a property manager, you need a fully developed solution, which can be built on top of DroneDeploy’s SDK and API, by a trusted partner like Theorem. Third parties can build out integrations and applications that work with or extend DroneDeploy capabilities. This extensibility could be leveraged to provide DroneDeploy customers with a high-level status overview of their entire property portfolio.
With that in mind, our concept envisions a dashboard and drill-down screens within the Property Inspection & Facility Management product that provide increasingly more granular status information. These screens take data for individual properties, use existing customer-defined business rules, and provide condition ratings for each property. The ratings would then be gathered into a status view encompassing all the properties in the client’s portfolio.
Build Management Concept Design
Product ideas can be difficult to pin down. They’re often broad, encompassing several smaller ideas. They can be loose, with fuzzy boundaries. We might talk about them with other people and find that even after all that discussion, there’s still no shared understanding.
To get past this, we use mockups — high-fidelity visual models that show how an application would look when built. They show the thinking behind a potential visual design path and give everyone on the product team something tangible to evaluate, discuss, and adjust as needed. Here's a mockup that demonstrate how the DroneDeploy Facilities Dashboard might function:
One of the key precepts of a dashboard is that it should convey only the most pertinent high-level information, for clarity and impact. The role of the dashboard’s Overview screen is to give a DroneDeploy customer a global view of property status. Here we’ve given visual prominence to those properties that are in red status, meaning that based on customer business rules, those properties should be first in line for maintenance. In a review discussion, the goal would be to question assumptions about what the most important information actually is, and how it should be presented for maximum utility.
Critical Roofing View
The status of roofs is extremely important, due to the impact a leaking roof can have on the interior of a building. So keeping tabs on those properties with roofs in critical status is a priority. Selecting the red circle on the Overview page takes us to the Critical Roofing screen, which provides a sortable, spreadsheet-like view of those properties with roofs that require the most attention.
In a review, we would talk through each component of the screen. Is a columnar view appropriate here? Which are the most important pieces of information and how should they work in concert? What combination of information will give a manager the ability to quickly decide what to examine in further detail and what to safely leave for now? Is a list of this type even the most useful approach for providing an overview of properties with this Roof Status? When a user selects an individual property, what would the summary view for that screen look like?
Individual Property View
This view drills furthest down into the information, and of the three is the most likely to require comprehensive adjustments. Not all DroneDeploy customers will have the same needs. Depending on the type and number of properties, their location and their uses, one client may prioritize geographic location while another might be more concerned with total square footage.
Moving from Concept to Production
As we mentioned earlier, concept sketches are designed to provoke a reaction, to ground discussion of an idea and give it tangible shape. They are not all-encompassing; they focus on perceived core functionality. They’re precise enough to elicit feedback, but not full of secondary features that distract from the core concept.
Were this a client engagement, the next step would be a broader discovery process. Theorem product, design, and engineering experts work with you to rapidly fill in and validate the concept details. Discovery provides tight definition and prioritization of desired functionality, determination of technical approach, and the creation of an implementation plan. With this foundation in place, development and deployment can proceed faster, with lower risks, and more certainty that exactly the right solution is being built.