I use FM:Interact® every day for 80-90% of my activities—it allows me to manage our constant churn and space changes—things that just weren’t possible to manage in the past with the size of our university.

Cheryl Benningfield, Space Planning Manager

Background

The University of North Texas (UNT) is Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest and most comprehensive university. The University offers more than 200 different degree programs and is considered one of the nation’s emerging research universities. UNT is a public institution which currently has an enrollment of more than 36,000 students and is located approximately 30 miles north of Dallas and Fort Worth Texas.

Facilities and Property Overview

UNT has over 7 million square feet of campus space, more than 4,000 faculty and staff, and has 892 acres consisting of 173 buildings and 12 building sites. This space is comprised of 12 colleges, a math and science academy for exceptional high school students from across the state, and six library facilities.

Challenges

The key business challenges that UNT faces include strict reporting requirements to the state and federal government in the determination of Education and General funding for the institution and for negotiation of the Facilities & Administrative Rates (F&A) for federal grants. The university houses various colleges that are accredited by various organizations, all of which include space requirements as a part of their accrediting requirements, as well as having multiple needs for additional space for new centers, programs and grants. Currently the university’s space is more than 90% occupied and individual college and department budgets have been reduced for the last 3 years—presenting a great need for maximizing the efficient use of their existing space and for ongoing reconfigurations, and renovations with limited funding.

Additionally, UNT’s goal of becoming a National Research University will necessitate upgrading and constructing new research space in the near future. Many of their existing classrooms and class labs are also in need of improvements which will help to enable them to realize their goals of exploring new teaching pedagogies and collaborative teaching methods.

Solution

UNT extensively uses the FM:Interact Space Management module to produce required formal and ad-hoc reports used for tracking, strategic decision making, facility planning, scheduling, and
extensive data warehousing of valuable facilities management information. They also use FM:Interact to track hazardous material locations, extensive room information, efficiency and productivity of research space, and numerous state required codes for every square inch of their 7 million square foot campus.

FM:Interact is used daily by a variety of staff and faculty members ranging from administrators to facility personnel, deans, department chairs, and university coordinators, who use it for many different purposes such as; planning, seating charts, determination of funding for maintenance costs, leasing, scheduling, and facilities maintenance and planning.

UNT also uses the Higher Education Survey module of FM:Interact to track and manage their research space and equipment at their two locations and to manage federal grants and sponsored research. They are now able to track their actual research expenditures to their space, which gives them access to key indicators of efficiency. This includes the correlation of cash and non-cash facility resource values to determine total efficiency of resource utilization.

One of the ongoing challenges for the university is keeping their space information updated due to the changing nature of their physical space inventory. To help solve this problem and to ensure the accuracy of their space data the university issues a formal survey to all departments annually and on an ongoing basis as necessary throughout the year. The results of the survey allow them to see what current data is associated with each space and to suggest changes for future updates. They continue to add items to their survey based on departmental or administrative requests and as the need to track these items grows the Higher Education Survey module takes on an even greater significance by giving them ready access to accurate information.

As an emerging National Research University, UNT places a high level of importance on their ability to access and use any information relevant to their research space. Data from FM:Interact is exported daily to other systems on campus and is used for work orders, class scheduling, classroom support, risk management, access control, and emergency planning and operations.

Results

UNT is now able to generate their files instantly which are then transmitted to the state for required annual reporting. Prior to implementing FM:Interact this process took months and consisted of long hours and numerous submissions to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to produce a successful report. They also now have organized and accessible data that is used extensively for campus planning and management. With the state of Texas having one of the most stringent reporting requirements in the country, FM:Interact has proven to be an indispensable tool for the university.

UNT tracks state, local, and federal grant money as it relates to their existing space and runs hundreds of reports each year with the Higher Education Survey module that are used to feed their federal reporting requirements. This in turn allows them to assess whether they are utilizing their research space effectively, allowing them to make informed decisions for possible changes and adjustments to space assignments.

Prior to the implementation of FM:Interact, UNT’s most prominent pain point was accurately tracking and managing their space data. The university now has a solution in place which has made it possible for them to manage their space more effectively including identifying vacant and underutilized space with greater ease, accuracy, and confidence.

Cheryl Benningfield, UNT’s Space Planning Manager, stated, “Not a day goes by that our operations are not improved by the instant access of data our work order and EIS systems receive from FM:Interact.”

“I use FM:Interact every day for 80-90% of my activities—it allows me to manage our constant churn and space changes—things that just weren’t possible to manage in the past with the size of our university.”