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, and less expensive. 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 called Property Inspection & Facility Management. 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 dashboards 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 global status view encompassing all the properties in the client’s portfolio, as well as property-specific views for managers to view and control all aspects of their assigned inspections, estimated repair costs, degradation forecasting, and more.
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 are four mockups that demonstrate how the DroneDeploy Facilities Dashboard might function:
The primary widget on the top-left of this dashboard shows the information that executives most care about: the overall status of all properties according to their company-defined thresholds and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) as well as the estimated repair costs are broken up by severity.
Below that one, we have a smaller widget that highlights anomalies and new issues. If there’s a property experiencing more problems than the average, it will immediately be highlighted for review. Any new critical issues on any property will also be highlighted in real-time.
On the right side of this example dashboard we have separated out individual widgets for “Roofing”, “Pavement” and “Exterior”, but each of these can be expanded into a full-screen mode which would expand the data and metrics shown with things such as degradation history and forecasting for aggregated or select properties.
Each of these categories provide a breakdown of issues by criticality. This is based on information from DroneDeploy inspections, but it’s also configurable by each customer. For example, the same pavement issue may range from unimportant to critical depending on the purpose of the building and its users, so building managers have finer control through a rules engine to determine how each issue should be evaluated.
Another version of this dashboard provides a map-view of aggregated properties status:
Each state is color-coded with the aggregate status of all properties within the state, and hovering over a state brings up a tooltip with more information that can be expanded as well.
The map itself is interactive and allows users to zoom in and out, as well as directly searching for a specific property or location to zoom into.
Maintenance Planning View
The Maintenance Planning screen provides a prioritized list of recommended repairs based on a combination of Drone Deploy assessment as well as company-defined rules and policies for prioritization.
This screen also includes the estimated repair costs for each issue. In cases where an estimated repair cost has not yet been confirmed, the software will provide an estimation based on historical data for similar repairs performed in that region by company-approved vendors.
Each issue in the list of recommended repairs has a button to directly download a bid form, and this functionality can also be integrated with select Property Management Software that customers may already be using.
Individual Property View
This view drills furthest down into the information for a specific property. At a quick glance, property managers can see the overall status of the property as well as detailed information from DroneDeploy including images and accompanying reports.
Building managers are also able to add more data to the report, including their determined severity, additional context, and images. Additionally, there is also a module to add estimated repair costs or quotes from approved vendors.
When repairs are made, building managers can also update that information on this page, so the property status is updated throughout the platform. This change may be configured to require leadership approval and it’s also confirmed in the very next DroneDeploy regularly scheduled inspection.
Moving from Concept to Production
As we mentioned earlier, concept sketches are designed to provoke a reaction, to ground the discussion of an idea, and give it a 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.
If this was a real Theorem + ClientX engagement, the next step would be a detailed 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.