Culture plays a vital role in mission-critical organizations

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Leadership | 0 comments says that “culture” is “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.” But if you examine the process of culture – or how culture works – you find that culture is the set of shared values that drives common behaviors and goals. This is why culture plays a vital role in mission-critical organizations: Your culture is the reason people act and behave the way they do. Mission-critical organizations are differentiated by their performance, which is a reflection of the organization’s culture (behaviors and beliefs or philosophies). The high-performing mission-critical organization values the responsibility, authority, and respect/appreciation that they derive from accomplishing tough jobs. By living the motto “Failure is not an option,” they accomplish goals with a unique perspective. They are extremely risk averse. Not to say that they won’t try to accomplish the impossible or merely tough to do, but rather they will work to mitigate all the risk so that these tasks have the greatest probability of success....

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What drives the process for when to replace UPS batteries?

Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in Up For Discussion | 5 comments

I want there to be a place where we can share our processes and learn from each other.  This is the first of (hopefully) many discussions exploring a topic of interest. Please share your experiences and best practices with everyone in the comments section below! I have seen organizations change UPS batteries based upon several different factors. In my experience, some replace batteries on a set schedule, some upon a qualifying condition. Since batteries represent a significant investment, I think it’s reasonable to assume that we are all following some process for making this costly decision. What criteria or process do you use to determine when to replace all the batteries in a string/UPS, and why? (Editor’s Note: Comments will be moderated and posted as quickly as...

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The most missed component in training — understanding

Posted by on Jan 2, 2014 in Training | 0 comments

Most training programs teach the basic knowledge required to do the job. Students are basically put in a classroom where someone pontificates on the benefits of whatever piece of equipment is being reviewed, the design of the system and what it does, and the basics of how to start it up, shut it down, and make operational adjustments. A good training program provides time to learn the skills to do the job. Students are required to work in a lab-type environment or given on-the-job training. They get to work with and actually operate the system or use a simulator. They are taught procedure, encouraged to ask questions and, more importantly, given time to practice and perfect new skills. A great training program goes to an entirely different level, giving students an opportunity to understand why things operate the way they do. The instruction incorporates an understanding of the design, including the physics or chemistry of the process. Students are taught what makes the equipment or system effective and efficient, how it is affected by changes in the environment, and the concepts behind the operational parameters that affect safety....

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Reliability in mission critical facilities – the big secret about what I do

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Up For Discussion | 0 comments

I get asked about what companies should do to increase the reliability of their mission critical facilities all the time, and my answer is usually the same. With 60 to 80 percent of the incidents or outages being caused by human error or omission, I would put my money where I could get the biggest bang for the buck … the people. Simple change – tremendous impact We live in a world where engineering solutions can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, but some of the greatest impacts to reliability require just the price of changing our values about our jobs. By ensuring that everyone on the facilities operations team has the personal value of risk mitigation, we reevaluate our behaviors, our situations, and where we spend our resources. Instead of rushing to get things done or checking off boxes, we consider the consequences of our actions, the situations we face, and the data available to us to ensure that we are taking the path of least risk....

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Understanding organizational values and hiring of management

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in Facilities Management, Featured, Leadership | 1 comment

In my last blog (Hiring a Facilities Manager), I mentioned that it is important for a candidate’s values to align with an organization’s values if the candidate is to be successful in their new position. In fact, this attribute, more than any other, dictates whether they can be successful in an organization or not.  What makes alignment of values more important in the hiring process than knowledge, skill, and experience? Values form the basis of everyday decisions Every day, managers and leaders make decisions.  It is one of the critical aspects of the position of manager or leader.  During the hiring process, we specifically look for the ability to analyze whatever is necessary to support good decisions, but what is the basis upon which those decisions will ultimately be made?  The values of the individual making the decision will dictate the outcome of the decision. You see, we make decisions based upon our values and beliefs, and we do analysis to determine what decisions will align with those values.  In a sense, the decisions we make must support our personal values and beliefs, or the conflict that arises will eventually create insurmountable tension.  What can result is a situation where a good decision for the organization may conflict with the manager’s values and beliefs....

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Hiring a facilities manager

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Facilities Management, Featured, Leadership | 6 comments

Tradition may dictate that the best technician or the most senior person in your organization be promoted into supervisory or managerial positions, but this practice may not always be the best choice in reality.  Yes, the best technician or most senior person most likely demonstrates some of the technical knowledge and skill that would be required of anyone filling the role of facilities manager.  But the fact is that if you don’t look for these other important traits when you make the hire, your facilities manager will likely fail – or at least fail to be as successful as they need to be. In The Crucial Role Of The Facilities Manager In Mission Critical Environments, I discussed what to look for when hiring a facilities manager (or any member of the facilities management team, for that matter) but how do you know which candidates actually embrace these qualities? To answer this question, we must take an honest look at some of the most important traits for success in the position:...

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Dancing with the devil you know

Posted by on Nov 14, 2012 in Facilities Management, Featured, Innovation, Leadership, Site Improvement | 4 comments

I have often had the opportunity to make decisions about which vendors or contractors to use during my career and, like many, I chose the easy way out – I just extended the contract or agreement.  In hindsight, I have to say, I missed a great opportunity.  I continued to dance with the devil I knew rather than with the angel I didn’t. On one occasion, however, I took a different approach by inviting several vendors to compete for a contract.  We did a very thorough specification and evaluation based upon what we needed, backed it up with research, and articulated it in such a manner as to be able to compare apples to apples. After we narrowed our selection to three vendors and had them perform for us, we evaluated the results – which showed that we should go with a new vendor.  The decision actually gave us exactly what we needed at a very significant cost savings.  Add to this the fact that the new company was also local and gave us almost immediate response to our issues, and you can see why it was a very satisfying outcome....

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The maintenance we miss

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in Facilities Management, Incidents/Downtime, Leadership, Training | 4 comments

It’s not uncommon for data centers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year maintaining vital equipment.  A typical maintenance budget can run 1 percent to 3 percent of your initial capital investment for each year of operation, and this amount goes up as the equipment ages.  It’s a necessary evil if you expect high levels of reliability in your data center operations.  But curiously, in this industry (and many others, by the way) the budget allocated to maintain their most important asset is usually a mere fraction by comparison. Are maintenance budgets misallocated? It’s well known that human-caused downtime is one of the largest reasons for downtime – if not the largest reason.  It’s just an observation, but oftentimes in my personal experience, I see an allocation of budgeted resources that doesn’t align with what we say is important.  Many budgets look like this: Equipment maintenance budget – $600,000/year Training for technicians budget – $10,000/year (if that)...

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A day in the life of a data center facilities manager

Posted by on Oct 18, 2012 in Facilities Management | 1 comment

Ever wonder what it’s like to be the facilities manager of a major data center?  Here is a “normal” day – but in retrospect, there really is no such thing as a “normal” day for a facilities manager. 0500 – 22 unread emails Somewhere close to 5:00 a.m., thoughts begin to penetrate your slumber. Your eyes open and confirm again that, for you, an alarm clock is not a necessity.  A call comes in from Security as you go about your morning routine, something about a contractor who wants to bring in an employee that is not on the access list.  During this call, the contractor calls you.  Switching between calls, you determine this person really is from a sub-contractor of the contractor and that he is needed to help install a piece of equipment integral to their project.  You acquiesce and give the guard your approval, informing him exactly where this individual is permitted to be and for how long.  Two cell phones, radio, keys, computer bag – cold coffee – and you’re out the door....

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Could cold-air channeling help your data center?

Posted by on Oct 4, 2012 in Industry Trends, Innovation, Site Improvement | 1 comment

While everyone is trying to save money by controlling energy usage at data centers (the topic has even hit the pages of the New York Times in recent days) what do we do with all the older data centers?  How can we increase efficiency in these sites? One answer is to control the cold air.  While controlling the warm air is also important, it does what it does naturally — rise.  Cold air, on the other hand, needs to be delivered to the proper location for it to do its job. Many of the older data centers were designed with under-raised-floor-cold-air delivery.  The rooms are lined with CRAC units that draw warm air from the overhead area and deliver cold air under the floor to be distributed through perforated tiles. In my experience, you contain the vital resource to the maximum extent possible to minimize losses and conserve it.  So it has always seemed strange to me that designers and engineers have historically chosen to contain the warm air when the vital resource is the cold air.  I would allow the warm air to either escape or have the maximum opportunity to lose some of its energy to the environment so as to work with physics and not against it....

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