eSPACE Now Unlocks Doors

That’s right…you heard us. Not only is eSPACE the industry leading Facility Management Software…it is also the leader in Facility System Integrations.

Nearly 9 years ago we developed the first COOLSPACE integration with the Niagara Framework for HVAC Building Automation Systems. Since then, we have developed even more (see HERE for a more information on this).

Well…we have taken facility system integration to the next level…and that is to allow eSPACE or your Event Scheduler (remember eSPACE integrates with 14 other Church Management Systems) but to also unlock and lock doors. BOOM!!!!

  • No more late night trips back to the church to make sure the doors are locked.
  • No more double entry of schedules in the event scheduler and your door system (or HVAC system).
  • Enter events one time and be DONE!

You can now create and approve your event in eSPACE (or one of our ChMS integration partners) and simultaneously communicate with your HVAC systems when to come on and off…AND…determine which door(s) you want unlocked/locked for that event. This is FREAKING AWESOME!

There are, however, some requirements from you…such as:
  1. You need to have an access control system
  2. That system needs to have an API that we can communicate with
See…that wasn’t so bad.

Do we have your attention?  If so, reach out and let us know how we can help you increase operational efficiency as well as what your facility uses. We are more than happy to investigate and make this a reality for YOUR team!

PS:  Lighting and  security cameras are next on the integration train to efficiency!


The Precursors of Facility Stewardship

For the past 10 years I have been beating the drum of Facility Stewardship. You can search through the archives of this blog and find dozens of posts on the subject.  Heck, we even produced an almost 300 page Facility Stewardship Manual (hint…get your copy today). I believe in this principle. In fact, at a recent meeting of our leadership team, we reiterated that our WHY, as a company, is to “To assist organizations be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.”

This is what we do. This is who we are. This is what drives us.

Going back through most of the information we have produced on this topic, I realized that the majority of the content is based on the assumption that a church already has a facility that needs to be stewarded…and that is true, given the majority of the life cycle costs of a facility are after you move in.

But…you cannot move into a facility until after it is dreamed about, planned, and built. You cannot steward something that does not exist. (What came first, the chicken or the egg?)

With that as the backdrop, the precursor to Facility Stewardship has to include all of the phases leading up to the existence of a facility. I know that sounds over simplified, but that’s the facts. In many instances, the time, energy and intentionality invested in these precursor activities will set the tone…if not the costs…of the long term life cycle stewardship initiatives. Poorly designed and built facilities generally cost more to operate, thus increasing the life cycle cost.

We see the life cycle comprised of 4 primary components:

SUSTAIN: The “Sustain” component is where we (or at least I have in my writing) tend to focus our attention when we think of Facility Stewardship given all the existing churches that have facilities to maintain/steward. There is actually a very small percentage of churches planning/building in any calendar year…usually 1-3% of all churches in America are in a “building program” in any given year…so we are inclined to equate Facility Stewardship to the other 97-99% of the churches that have facilities whom need to maintain, pay utilities, clean, replace light bulbs, repair HVAC systems, etc.

“We cannot look at Facility Stewardship and Life Cycle as a “one and done” process…the term “cycle” would infer that it repeats itself…and so it is with the life cycle of a facility.”

But we cannot look at Facility Stewardship and Life Cycle as a “one and done” process…the term “cycle” would infer that it repeats itself…and so it is with the life cycle of a facility. Once you have been in a building for any period of time, there is a natural occurrence that starts the cycle over again (and again, and again). We tend to start to dream of new ways to do things…thus the need for new tools (or re-purposed tools) which in turn requires planning and some facet of building…then sustaining…repeat.

Given the above, there are 3 precursors to the “sustain” portion of Facility Stewardship:

DREAM: This is a critical step in the process of every facility initiative which provides the platform for church leaders to ask “what if” and understand a variety of scenarios that might be possible depending on God’s leading and the intentional uniqueness of your church. Dreaming is not just “blue sky” thinking (although there is a component of that) but needs to be weighted by intentional “next steps”.

PLAN: Intentional planning is required to achieve a desired goal. Period. Most church leaders miscalculate or under estimate the value and impact of this phase. Here is a fact; You will spend most of your total project budget during the planning phase. That may sound un-intuitive given that you will likely write checks for less than 15% of the total cost of your project during the pre-construction process. However, the reality is that every decision you make during this phase will impact the cost of your project. The “Build” phase is merely the execution and fulfillment of the planning. Do not take this lightly.

BUILD: Building and construction can be confusing and feel adversary for those not actively involved in the industry. There will be hundreds of items that must be addressed and resolved. There will also be times of frustration, concern about quality, doubt about the validity of a “change order”, schedule issues, budget issues, closeout, warranty, etc, etc, etc. It can be overwhelming…but it doesn’t need to be that way. You need an advocate and “construction-eese” translator making “cloudy” issues clear. Someone sitting on your side of the table allow you and your team to do what God called you to do…minister and lead.

Don’t assume that the precursors are not as equally important to the sustaining elements of Facility Stewardship. Taking the above for granted can cost you dearly. Facility Stewardship is not an “either/or” but rather a “both/and” process. Let me put it another way…the Dream, Plan and Build are not merely precursors, but integral parts of Facility Stewardship.


What Your email Address Says About You

Are you prejudice or have strong biases? I do not think of myself as the former, but definitely the latter. Then I looked at the definitions…and realized I can be both without really being aware of it.

Prejudice = preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Biased = unfairly prejudiced for or against someone or something.

So…what does this have to do about a simple email address? Well…I have prejudice/strong bias about certain email domains. I know that sounds trite and petty, but it is true. And I am convinced that I am not the only one (check out this funny graphic). Let me explain.

When I receive an email and the domain is @AOL or @YAHOO or @EARTHLINK or @HOTMAIL, I have an immediate prejudice…in the purest sense of the word. I make a preconceived judgement and opinion of the person who sent the email.  Here is my list of first impressions:

  1. This person is old (older than me…maybe older than my dad!)
  2. They are not technical
  3. The are still on Windows 98
  4. They are living 20 years in the past
  5. They don’t like change

As the above definition so aptly describes, I made a decision not based on reason or any actual experience. I realize that is not “fair” and the person may be highly technical and only 25 years old (but not likely). They may be using an Apple product and have the iPhone X (again…probably not). But the fact remains, I made a biased judgement of that person.

Do you know what else…others may be as well.  I was recently at a church technology conference talking with some of my peers when this exact topic came up. They were all sharing stories about how they do the exact same thing and try to get their clients to update their addresses to “modern” applications or custom domains. For example, tim at coolsolutionsgroup dot com is actually an alias for a Gmail address.

So…who cares? In some cases it is totally irrelevant…but there are some instances where your email tells a story that could hurt you such as:

  1. Looking for a new job – don’t look like you are not tech savvy or living in the past
  2. Communicating with church staff – don’t “date” yourself to leaders that may be younger than you
  3. Seeking assistance with software products – enough said
  4. Communicating with people how relevant you are – you get it
  5. ETC!

Does anyone else agree with me?


The World of Integration

When we first started eSPACE, I could not get another ChMS to sit down and have a conversation about integration…and yet we were inundated with requests from churches to be able to integrate to their HVAC systems as well as their ChMS. What is a boy to do?!?!

I am not one to give up easily…so here are some things we did:

  1. We developed an HVAC integration with the Niagara Framework to integrate with Building Automation Systems that had a JACE.
  2. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.
  3. We kept developing eSPACE into the BEST Facility Management Software solution for churches.
  4. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.
  5. We developed integrations with other HVAC control solutions such as WiFi Thermostats and XML converters (for BACnet, LON and Modbus).
  6. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.

Persistence finally paid off! 

Let me tell you what is going on to make your church more energy and operational efficient:

  1. eSPACE now integrates with 13 ChMS applications…check them out HERE!
  2. COOLSPACE offers integration with 4 Wireless thermostats, the Niagara Framework and many other Building Automation systems that communicate BACnet, LON and Modbus.
  3. We are in testing with a number of Access Control systems (more on that later).
  4. We integrate with a number of Digital Signage companies.
  5. We have a WordPress Plugin to integrate your WordPress site to digital signage.
  6. Our Dev team is exploring integrations with lighting controls, security cameras and other systems.

The world of integration is here to stay and we are thrilled to be the leader in this area to serve churches. Join the integration revolution and give us a shout!


Preventive Maintenance: Revisited

The below is a post that I did in August of 2009…but think that we need to revisit it…and how it can save you money in the long run. Frankly, if we are focused on long term ministry implementation, then our facilities will need to be prepared to serve us (not vice versa) for the long term as well. OK…I will get off my soap box…enjoy the following!


As I have studied the Facilities Management field and have researched the cause and effect of the decay of everything that we build, I am more confused as to why we, as God’s stewards, do such a poor job of fulfilling those duties. We would rather put off today what we can go into debt for tomorrow. HMMM…is that good stewardship? Sounds like many government officials.

I recently was introduced to Kevin Folsom, Director of Facilities and Plant Operations Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas. He wrote a White Paper entitled “sustainable facilities” vs. Sustainable Facilities. This is an excellent article and frankly some of it is over my head…Kevin is one smart dude!!!!

Here is a quote from this article:

There are numerous levels that can be used to go about this, but to start we have to remember our early Physics lessons in high school about the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics. Everything we build will decay, but it may last longer if properly maintained. So, here’s a puzzling question… If we build facilities that the natural law causes them to decay at fairly predictable rates throughout its birth to burial, why do we not plan for it?

According to a research project done a few years ago, facilities…any facility…will deteriorate at a rate of 1-4% per year, assuming regular preventive maintenance. However, this rate of deterioration will, in most cases, grow exponentially if the regular, systematic preventive maintenance is not performed.

So…why do we, as church leaders, avoid addressing and planning for the inevitable? Would you drive your new car and never change the oil until the engine seizes up and then cough over a huge amount of money for a new engine? That does not make any sense to me.

Let me share one more quote from an interview Kevin did with facilitiesnet.

Let’s step back and look at the big picture for a minute. An appropriate preventive maintenance program should be funded on average at 1.5 percent of the CRV (Current Replacement Value) of a facility. Using the Fram analogy, which is much like a really small facility, 1.5 percent of a $20,000 car is $300 per year. The equivalent would be to pay someone to come to your car’s location to provide maintenance and inspections, while working around your schedule to prevent interruption. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

So, how much is the CRV (Current Replacement Value) of your ministry facilities? How much are you budgeting each year to maintain these God given resources? It may be time for a Facilities Management/Maintenance Audit.


Facility Stewardship – What Is It?

For over 10 years, you have seen me refer to facility stewardship. For some of you this may be still be a new concept. You know what a facility is and you are familiar with stewardship…but how do the 2 go together? I am glad you asked…

Let’s first look at the definition of each:

FACILITY (ies) – something designed, built, installed, etc., to serve a specific function affording a convenience or service.

STEWARDSHIP – (act of being a STEWARD) – a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others.

If you have grown up in the church or been involved in church for any period of time, you have heard the term “stewardship”…and I am sure that in almost every case, it revolved around money or raising money. In these cases, we are generally talking about financial stewardship which is critical to our spiritual life as well as the life of our ministries.

The word “money” is used over 140 times and if you add terms such as “gold” and “silver” the number is huge. For example, financial matters are mentioned more often in the Bible than prayer, healing, and mercy.

But stewardship is not just about money and finances…but refers to (as its definition above indicates) the caring for or oversight of something of someone else’s. The EPA has a section on their website that explains “Environmental Stewardship”. They define it as:

Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.

So, how do we apply this to our ministry facilities? Do we really believe that God has entrusted these to us, thus making us stewards of their care and oversight? As I have shared before, I have witnessed churches and ministries spending millions of dollars in the construction and renovation of their facilities…but then fail to maintain them (i.e. steward them). They wave the banner of “stewardship” when raising money to build them…but then neglect their care, management and maintenance. So, the following is a list of attributes that I believe are part of “Facility Stewardship”:

  • Proper cleaning
  • Systematic and proactive Preventive Maintenance
  • Proactive Capital Reserve Account planning
  • Life Cycle analysis and planning
  • Development of a systematic painting plan
  • Proper facility scheduling – this is a key element of stewarding the facility…they were meant to be used
  • Sustainability implementation
  • Vigilant monitoring of operational costs
  • Implementation of energy saving processes (i.e. HVAC interface with a Building Automation System or WiFi thermostats of better yet)
  • Proactive cataloging of facility components and tracking of work orders and service requests

With the above as a backdrop, how are you doing with your Facility Stewardship? What can you implement immediately that would make you a better steward?


Don’t Take Our Word for It!

As CEO of Cool Solutions Group/eSPACE, nothing brings me more joy than hearing from our clients. We could “toot” our own horn all day long, but…when others say things about you, that makes you take notice. Here are just a few comments from clients:

It is amazing how far the software has come since we started using it in I think 2011. Having the event scheduler on the app, may give us the ability to stop running schedules.  You have done some amazing things with this software over the years.  ~ Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church 

 

The transition of data from ServiceU to eSPACE went very well. The system is much easier to navigate through than ServiceU. I am very pleased with the system and what it can do.   ~ Sugar Creek Baptist Church

 

We are so impressed thus far not only with the eSPACE program but also with the wonderful customer service we have already received!   ~ Forest Hills Baptist Church

 

Let me take a moment to just tell you how eSPACE is blessing us and blessing our community. Because of the ease of scheduling spaces and eSPACE in general, we now have community members using our facility for corporate meetings and other events. Opening our building to the public gets more people in the door who may have a negative view of “church.” The FACILITY is not the church – it’s where we DO church. ~ Ward Church

 

The number one thing that eSPACE has that ServiceU did not is excellent customer service! eSPACE is so much more comprehensive, specifically for the whole facility. Work order system, HVAC system and now the Life Cycle Calculator are so wonderfully focused on the facility as that is your niche. eSPACE is so much easier to update than ServiceU. ~ Westwood Community Church

 

I have been managing our church facility for nearly 14 years and while I have experimented with other software tools to help me, Cool Solutions Group is hands down the best out there. Cost savings, better stewardship and higher production of our church’s support staff are a direct result of their Event, Work Order and HVAC management software. ~Fellowship Bible Church

 

Oh. My. Gosh. We could not love eSPACE more!!!! You all ROCK! Moving to eSPACE has been everything we’d hoped and dreamed it to be.  Their staff is extremely responsive and supportive of our unique and growing needs.  They are flexible, thoughtful, and the best company we work with hands down.  We only wish the team at eSPACE would take over the internet world and build software for everything so we could work with them on every digital need we have!  Their customer service is far superior to anyone we’ve ever worked with! ~ Bloomfield Hills School District

Want to learn more?  Check us out HERE. You can also view videos and other tools HERE.

 

 


WOW – You Offer THAT?!

The other day I was contacted by a man from a church who was working with a committee he had established to help his church understand the importance of taking care of and planning for the inevitable future costs related to their church facilities. He had downloaded one of our eBooks (Church Facility Stewardship) and was interested in other resources to make his case.

As I started to compile a response, I paused and stared at the screen…WOW – THAT IS INCREDIBLE! As the email developed and the list grew, I was frankly humbled and blown away with the resources that we have been able to make available to churches across the country.

If you have not checked out what we have developed (many resources are free) and what services we provide…just take a look at the list below.

  1. 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account –  Free eBook – This was written as a primer for churches that are starting from Square 1 with a capital reserve.
  2. Church Facility Evaluator – Free tool to evaluate some of the key operational metrics/costs of a church related to national averages.
  3. Church Facility Stewardship Manual – Almost 300 pages of information for any church to use to establish and further their facility management initiatives.
  4. Other Resources – We have written a number of books and other material.
  5. Assessments/Training – We also provide a number of assessments and training.
  6. Life Cycle Calculator – This is a free software that will help ANY organization establish their capital reserve plan and project funds needs and when.
  7. eSPACE – Facility Management Software – We originally developed this software suite for churches, but since 2008,  we now have private and public schools, colleges, YMCAs, municipalities and other facility/property managers. In addition to the free Life Cycle Calculator from above, we have subscription offerings for:
    1. Event Management 
    2. Work Order Management
    3. HVAC Integration 
  8. Church Facility Management  Solutions – This is a new membership website that we recently released…VERY excited about this!

If your church has a facility…you need to familiarize yourself with the above items and take advantage of the best set of tools to help you be a GREAT steward!


New HVAC Integration with Network Thermostats

As we have discussed before, the number one cost “influencer” to your utility bills can be attributed to the cost of heating and cooling your facility. And the 2 factors that are the root cause of most inefficiencies are “controls” and “behaviors.”

Most of you know that eSPACE has developed an HVAC Integration feature called COOLSPACE that now will integrate with various Building Automation systems and WiFi thermostats. Not only that, but eSPACE can integrate with many of the leading Church Management Systems such as Ministry Platform, Shelby Systems, CCB, Fellowship One, Servant Keeper, ACS, Planning Center and more (Click HERE to learn more).

Well…we have just added another integration partner – Network Thermostats. While we will not be “selling” their thermostats (they have a very generous program when then sell to churches) we have developed an integration that will allow churches that have these thermostats to integrate with eSPACE or the other event schedulers mentioned above. That’s right…if you have Network Thermostats, or are considering obtaining them, then you can increase your energy and operation efficiency by integrating them to you event and facility scheduling software.

With COOLSPACE/eSPACE integration, you can easily schedule all the events in your facility and know that the HVAC systems will respond to each event as they occur. Not only can you realize energy savings with improved HVAC run-times, your facility staff is able to devote more time to other needs as the scheduling will be seamless and automatic.

If you are looking for ways to increase operational efficiency and reduce energy consumption, you need to check out all of our HVAC and ChMS Integrations.  You will be glad you did!


Why Use Facility Management Software For Your Church: Part 5

This is it…the 5th and final segment in our discussion about the positive attributes of utilizing a facility management software solution for your church or ministry. The other segments can be viewed on our blog page.

Today, as we wrap this up, I want to give you some features that you should consider as you are looking for the right system for your use. As I have mentioned prior, there are several good products on the market…so do the due diligence and find the right solutions for you.

So….what are the features you should consider?

Minimum Features:

  1. Produce and evaluate Work Order Requests: We believe that as a minimum, your system should allow your staff/personnel to notify you of the need for a work order. The process should provide enough information to the recipient to make an assessment of the issue before they physically explore it further.
  2. Prioritize the Work Orders: As part the work order process, the sender should be able to establish a “priority” of the work…at least in their minds. This will give the recipient a heads-up as to how the sender perceives this issue.
  3. Track work orders: The better products on the market allow you to track each work order that is generated…through its entire life cycle.
  4. Historical data: This is very important…what is the historical data associated with your equipment? When was the last time it was serviced and what were the issues then? If the system does not track this, then you will have to do it manually…which seems redundant.

Upgraded features:

  1. Track vendors and assign work orders directly to them (even if they are in-house or volunteers): The better systems on the market will provide for the tracking of the subcontractors, suppliers and vendors associated with the care of your facilities. Who are they? What service categories do they work in?How do I reach them? Who is my primary contact? Are they a volunteer group in the church? In addition, the ability to have an automated process for sending work orders can save you valuable time and money…not to mention a reduction in misunderstandings.
  2. Notification process for all work: The best systems on the market have automated notification processes. These should include notification for when a work order is requested, when an ETA is established by the Vendor, when the work is completed and if the work is going to exceed the agreed-to projected cost. As it is said…time is money…and these systems are meant to save time.
  3. Asset tracking and assigning of work orders to specific equipment: As we explored in a previous segment, it is ideal to be able to track all of the equipment in your facility. It is best if you can catalog all of your equipment and then be able to tie a work order to a specific piece of equipment. If you cannot catalog the equipment and track it…then it may not be the right product for you.
  4. Capital Reserve and Life Cycle Planning: How are you currently projecting the life cycle cost of your equipment? Do you have an ongoing list of capital improvements that need to be made? Do you know how much money it will take every year to replace items that have come to the end of their useful life? Having the ability to track these items in one centralized place will make the long term management of your facilities much better.

There is more that we could discuss…but let’s leave it at that for now…if you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact us direct.