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How To Choose A Data Management Platform?

These days we are surrounded by more and more data. However, data is only useful if it can be collected and analysed in an effective way. Data management tools are an ever more crucial component of success. Across many industries, including education, workload demand is increasing, resulting in mounting pressure to save on cost and maximise the effectiveness of property assets. Data management solutions can help schools to effectively organise and make the most of their data, ensuring that estates are efficiently managed and outputs are optimised.

Organising data can be a daunting prospect but using data in the right way can benefit your school significantly. By collecting, analysing and presenting data in an efficient and engaging way, it is possible to observe where operations need to be streamlined and where there is room for improvement. By using data-driven asset management you could:

  • Improve the efficiency of data collection
  • Improve the accuracy and consistency of your data
  • Enable analysis of data at different levels, from strategic to local
  • Benchmark your estate to identify issues and drive improvement

So, what might you use a data management platform for? Read on to find out the options for your organisation.


Energy Management

Energy management software can be a fundamental tool for managing your estate. It enables you to analyse your energy consumption, identify problem areas and understand where there may be opportunities to save money. It works by collating, reporting and analysing the data gathered from smart metres, on-site renewables and utility bills. This allows you to benchmark and compare your energy usage against similar estates. Energy management software can empower you to make strategic changes to your policies, such as shifting user behaviour, buying your energy more cheaply, or implementing energy-saving strategies.


Asset Management

Asset management tools store your asset information in a consistent way. They can be essential for school management teams who need to keep pace with the value of a portfolio or its ongoing operation and maintenance costs. At an operational level Asset Management or Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) systems can help track and organise assets and help prioritise capital spending.

Compliance Tracking

Keeping track of statutory compliance within educational institutions becomes more complex as the size and diversity of the estate increases. Add in a constantly changing regulatory landscape and the ongoing training needs of staff and things can easily get missed. Using a structured and partially automated process can minimise risk, make repetitive tasks more efficient and create resilience in a system.


Incident Reporting

Incident reporting software raises awareness about any potential sites of risk. This allows for preventative and corrective actions to be taken, which can make learning environments safer. However, recording and keeping track of incidents and sites of risk can be a complex undertaking. It often requires filling out confusing and complicated forms – this can demotivate the reporting manager from filling them out. An incident reporting tool makes this process easier by improving the user experience. Managers can easily record incidents by day, type and severity. The user can then quickly view and understand historical incidents and trends so that it is possible to pre-emptively intervene and avoid significant incidents.

“The way you collect and manage the data can help ensure that all of these criteria are met.”

How To Choose A Data Management Platform?

We all know about the importance of data-driven decision-making when running an estate. Getting the right system in place can help improve the efficiency and accuracy of school data collection, enable the data to be analysed at different levels and help drive improvement by benchmarking and performance management.

But, in a congested and complex market with all sorts of options, how do you choose a solution that is right for your school? More importantly, how do you ensure that your system is a help and does not become a burden?

As a starting point, we should review what makes data useful. Property asset data is only valuable if it meets the four C’s of data management;

  • Current
  • Correct
  • Complete
  • Consistent

For example, setting templates and guidelines on how you collect data will improve the consistency of reporting. Automating updates will help keep the data current and facilitating comparison and quality control will help maintain the quality of the data.

So, what should you be asking of your potential system, supplier or internal team before implementing a data management platform? Here are a few questions you should ask:


What data are you managing?

Your data often comes from multiple sources, from formal reports and surveys to informal knowledge and legacy records. What are the sources and formats of your information and can the proposed system receive and integrate them? This is key to effective data management. 


What functions do you need?

Consider the scope of your remit and find a system to match. Asset Management can cover a huge spectrum of activities from building conditions and planned maintenance, to the management of health and safety, compliance and training. If you add facilities management and work ticketing into the scope, your requirements could be very different from a school with a more focused scope. Look at any proposed system and ask; does it do everything we need? But also, are we paying for features we don’t need or won’t use?


What outputs and reports do you require?

Consider who is going to use the system but also who is going to view the output. How flexible is the reporting? Often a data management system will have users at different levels within a school, from school data managers at a strategic level to those making detailed or operational decisions. Can system outputs and reports be tailored to different levels within an organisation? Keeping a single consistent set of data and pulling out different reports helps maintain the four C’s of data management, particularly consistency.

Who owns the data? What are your exit options?

Something to consider in the long term is what might happen if you need to change the system. This could be because your school has changed and has different needs, or it could be that you become unhappy with your provider. Whatever the reasons, how easy is it to extract yourself from the system? Do you own your data and can you extract it in a format that remains useful? If not, you could find yourself tied into a system that is no longer fit for purpose or be hit with costs for recollecting lost data.


What resources do you have to manage the system?

Assess your internal capability both in terms of quantity and quality. Do you have the expertise and time to get the most out of a complex system or do you need something simple and flexible that can be used by non-technical staff? Larger schools may have estates managers or even data specialists who can dedicate time to the system. It is useful to have a long-term vision of where you want to end up, as systems can have a habit of growing organically and becoming unwieldy. Making the step up to a full CAFM system is a significant step and only to be undertaken with careful planning and understanding of the resources required to get the most out of it.


How Barker Can Help

At Barker, we developed the EO Portal – the industry leader in monitoring estate data and energy usage. The EO Portal offers intuitive Estate, Compliance, Energy and Benchmarking Dashboards which provide actionable insights into estate condition data, allow compliance monitoring, site comparison and analysis of energy usage across your estate. 

Using real-time data presented in a simple insightful format, the EO Portal monitors costs across multiple locations. The EO Portal is the perfect data management software for those who need to optimise their estates and operations in multiple capacities.

  • Simple to use – The intuitive user interface means minimal training is required.
  • Portal solution – There is no software to buy. Your data can be accessed anywhere by multiple users.
  • Cost-effective – The solution is accessible to all organisations. Provides the best value and immediate return on investment.
  • Flexible – Different tools allow data to be viewed at different levels of detail depending on the function.
  • Universal – Import your existing data or can be offered as part of an end-to-end condition survey programme.
  • Industry-leading – Referenced in DfE Good Estate Management for Schools Guidance as an effective way to manage your estate.
  • Secure and compliant – Compliant with ISO27001 and HM Government G-Cloud Framework and an RICS Technology Affiliate, storing your data securely.

Barker has over 30 years of experience in delivering a comprehensive range of property consultancy services. To find out more or if you need further consultation advice on how to effectively manage your school’s data, be sure to contact our team today.

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