30 Apr

COVID-19 and the FM

COVID-19 and the FM


Paul Williams, President of ISM Services, wrote a 3-part article series to address the challenges facing the facilities manager as the result of COVID-19. The first article deals with Operations and Maintenance. The second addresses Human Capital which, while not usually synonymous with facilities management, is of critical importance during this time. The third article covers Facility Security and the increasing risk that security personnel are facing. Each article is available to view below.

COVID-19 and the Facility Manager: Operations and Maintenance

COVID-19 and the Facility Manager: Human Capital

COVID-19 and the Facility Manager: Security

19 Dec

The Power of One Single, Small Word

The Power of One Single, Small Word

At work, we are faced with many hurdles. They can range from personality conflicts to reorganization and downsizing. While many of those hurdles are out of our control, there are some that we can control. We often are not aware that we place these hurdles ourselves.

One of the greatest barriers we face in both work and life is a single, small word. This can take the greatest of ideas and relegate them to the scrap heap. It can demoralize and demotivate. Many people use it daily with far-reaching, unintended consequences. In fact, most of the people that use the word don’t fully realize the power that it carries. What is this powerful word that robs us of ideas and motivation?

The word is but.

While this may initially sound odd, [but] carries powerful negativity along with it. By using in a sentence, it can discount any positive notes or emotions that came before it.

How does this sentence sound?

“You did a great job on this project, but…”

Read through that sentence once more.

Upon reaching [but], you anticipate a negative conclusion. You might wonder, “what did I do wrong?” or “what is coming next? At this point, you are no longer focused on the praise and instead are focused on the criticism you feel is coming. You’re now on the defense. Using but in sentences immediately brings negativity into the conversation. It doesn’t matter what follows but in the sentence. The entire sentence has now taken on a negative tone.

Consider the outcome of this sentence if [but] is replaced by [and]. What kind of impact would that have?

Let’s take the example sentence and substitute and for but.

“You did a great job on this project and…”

Read through that sentence again.

The elimination of a single word has changed the impact of the sentence. Do you think the second sentence will lead to a far better conversation? Which one would you rather be on the receiving end of? Replacing but with and moves us from negative interactions to positive interactions.

Give it a try and see what happens!

09 Dec

The Convergence of Facilities and the Internet of Things

The Convergence of Facilities and the Internet of Things

What is the current state of facilities management?  Where is facilities management headed?  How will it evolve in the near future?  Who will lead and who will follow?

The Current State

With few notable exceptions, facilities management is a low-tech industry that has remained remarkably unchanged for the last 50 years. The workplace, however, has transformed radically in those same 50 years.  Our facilities have transformed from hard wall offices and cube farms to office spaces that maximize flexibility and teaming.  Our office technology has advanced from typewriters and mainframes to handhelds, tablets, laptops, and desktops that have the greater processing power than the first super computers.  Our employees have gone from quiet lifers to transient workers who, on average, change jobs every 4.3 years. In that same time, facilities management has remained stagnant.

The Definition of Modern Facilities Management

People may argue that there have been many advances in facilities technology, but they are looking solely at facilities management as a series of systems required to maintain the spaces to house personnel and equipment when their focus should be on the Employee Experience (EX) and supporting the mission of the organization.

The Employee Experience (EX)

What is the Employee Experience?  Denise Yohn, a brand expert and influential author, states in an article for Forbes that “EX is the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization,”. The employee experience includes “every employee interaction, from the first contact as a potential recruit to the last interaction after the end of employment.” If a business creates a better employee experience, it gives employers a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining more talent  Facilities play a great part in the Employee Experience.

A few examples of facilities items that affect the morale of the employee and their desire to stay or motivation to leave include parking availability, lighting in the office areas, extreme temperature variations, whether or not the office environment fosters collaboration or teaming, and the availability of conference rooms and scheduling tools for those areas. The time it takes to resolve facilities-related issues can play a role as well. We’ve all worked in or visited facilities that were depressing and demoralizing.  We’ve also experienced those facilities where the energy and enthusiasm were palpable.


If you talk to companies, their greatest concern is the loss of talent.  A good estimate is that human capital costs an organization $300 per square foot of space;  a tremendous expense.  The new generation of employees craves instant access to information and near-real-time resolution of issues – they are not content to wait.  Every time an employee leaves, their experience and expertise are lost by their company and often won by direct competition. Replacement talent must be recruited and trained.  That takes time and money and creates a skills gap.  Wouldn’t it be easier to focus on retention instead of replacement?


Facilities have long been viewed as a necessary evil, and to a great extent, their place in the overall success or failure of an organization has been overlooked.  Without power, space, and environmental controls, there is no mission.  Take any of the three away and you cannot produce your product or service.  Limit any of the three and it affects the ability to produce your product or service in a cost-effective manner.

Next to personnel, facilities are the greatest operating expense to an organization.  While human capital costs approximately $300 per square foot, facilities cost approximately $30 per square foot.  Human resources receive tremendous, seemingly persistent attention at the C-level when facilities seem to only receive C-level attention when there is an issue.  The same holds true for budgets.  Human resources budgets are always climbing as opposed to facilities budgets which are flat or declining.  Why is that?  Facilities managers do not have the same level of data to draw from.  As a result, it is hard to defend requested budgets.

The Answer

How do we tackle all of these issues?  How do we advance facilities management to where it needs to be?  Data.  More specifically, the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analysis.

The Internet of Things is defined by Webster’s as the networking capability that allows information to be sent to and received from objects and devices (such as fixtures and kitchen appliances) using the Internet.  More simply put, an IoT device is a ubiquitous term for anything with a Unique Item Identifier (UII) that can be connected to over the Internet or an intranet.  The IoT thrives on data. Any device that can be connected can provide data.  Facilities managers need data to make informed, defensible decisions and to operate facilities that aid in employee retention. This is the future of facilities management and the simplest way to achieve this is through the adoption of IoT devices.  Facilities managers no longer have to work within established protocols on closed systems like BACnet, LON, or SCADA.  They can deploy low-cost IoT sensors or simply attach to IoT-enabled facilities systems like chillers, air handlers, switchgear, and generators.

A simple array of IoT sensors in your office environment combined with an IWMS system with integrated Artificial Intelligence (AI) can tell you occupancy and utilization rates, traffic patterns for facilities maintenance, environmental conditions, and countless other data points that can be leveraged by facilities managers.  A different series of IoT sensors in data centers, manufacturing areas, and back of house/support areas can provide you state of health on equipment, allow for predictive maintenance, and monitor environmental and life safety conditions.

IoT Evolution

Currently, IoT is very limited in scope within the facilities world.  Companies are focusing the development of technology within their market sector or area of expertise.  Lighting companies are focusing on IoT lighting products.  HVAC manufacturers are focusing on IoT enabled HVAC products.  There are a select few that are looking at IoT holistically and developing solutions to provide integrated facilities systems.  With concept to appliance development cycles running at approximately 12 months, you can expect to see systems on the market within the next year.  As these systems mature and begin to see adoption, facilities IoT will begin to evolve at a rapid pace.

Who Will Lead?

The leaders will be organizations that understand and embrace the idea that data and the interpretation of those data are the future of facilities management.  They will operate more efficient facilities, be able to reduce their real estate footprints, and retain talent more successfully.  The challenge will be in convincing facilities managers to embrace technology and finding solutions providers that know how to derive value from gathered data.

Paul Williams is the President and Founding Partner of ISM Services, Incorporated.  ISM is headquartered in Pennsylvania and focuses on the implementation and maintenance of Facilities IT solutions.  ISM is currently celebrating its 15th year in business. 

Click here to download the Convergence of Facilities and the Internet of Things whitepaper

06 Sep

Ft. Meade Community Job Fair

ISM Services Inc. will be attending the Ft. Meade Community Job Fair Wednesday September 18th from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Come out and meet us to learn about our current IT positions and future opportunities with us! Details for event listed on the attached flyer!
hiring event



04 Jun

ISM congratulates Director of Engagement

ISM congratulates Director of Engagement

ISM congratulates Director of Engagement, George MacBeth, who was named a 2019 Top Gun Award winner during the ARCHIBUS Nexus conference in New Orleans in April. The award is presented for “exemplary technical, management and communication skills in the design, implementation, maintenance and deployment of ARCHIBUS.”

The award is the third Top Gun win for George, who is the head of ISM’s Engagement Division. He was also honored in 2008 and 2009.

21 Sep

ISM Services, Inc. Names Senior Managers

ISM Services, Inc. Names Senior Managers

Today, ISM Services Incorporated announced the promotion of two team members as part of the company’s vision and growth strategy.  George MacBeth was named as Director of Engagement and Brian Everley was named as Director of Support.

“As two of ISM’s most senior employees, George MacBeth and Brian Everley have both made tremendous contributions to our company.” said Paul Williams, President and Co-Founder of ISM. “ISM would not be where we are now without their hard work and dedication.  Their promotions are well deserved.  We look forward to them playing a major part in the next phase of ISM’s growth.”

Mr. MacBeth was formerly the firm’s Director of Software Design Services.  As head of ISM’s newly formed Engagement Division, he will now oversee the company’s customer-facing activities.

Mr. Everley was promoted to his new position from Manager of Special Projects and will oversee the company’s Support Division.  Support provides customer service, help desk, and training support for ISM’s customers.

To align with its 10-year vision and growth strategy, ISM recently streamlined its business units into Engagement, Support, Innovation, and Technical Services.  Engagement will handle all customer-facing implementation and sustainment activities.  Support will cover customer service, help desk, and training activities.  Innovation will handle internal development projects and development of OEM software solutions.  Technical Services will manage ISM’s Internet of Things (IoT) and other technical hardware projects.


ISM Services Incorporated is a facilities IT company that specializes in the development, implementation, and sustainment of facilities and asset management software solutions. Headquartered in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, ISM has satellite offices in Pittsburgh, San Antonio, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.ism-corp.us.

We are a facilities IT company instead of an IT company that implements facilities IT solutions.  Why is that important? We understand facilities. We don’t just install software; we leverage the facilities experience of our employees to deliver solutions that address the needs of facilities managers.