Document Your Facility With Evernote

By | March 3, 2016

Effectively operating even a moderately sized facility requires a ton of information.  Any particular person won’t need most of that information most of the time and nobody will be able to remember all of it anyway.  You will, however, need it when you need it (obviously).

Ideally, you probably want a full-featured Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) system with detailed Building Information Models (BIM) integrated with your Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) with mobile accessibility all combined with an efficient, effective facility management process.

But, maybe your building was built in 1993 so you don’t have BIM and/or maybe you don’t yet have the process or clout to organize a successful CAFM implementation.  Or maybe your facility is not large or complex enough to ever require specialized management software.  If you are in one of these several boats, I would like to suggest Evernote as a tool to capture and organize your facility information.  Here are some images of Evernote pages (links to actual pages below).
Evernote Asset Page ExampleExample Evernote ProcedureEvernote Panel Listing Example

What is Evernote?

Evernote is a note taking application and cloud service that allows the user to create and access notes from any Internet connected device.  Evernote has the following features that make it useful for Facility Management:

  • Notes are stored in the cloud and are always available from your Internet connected devices (this means mobile).
  • Notes and notebooks (note groupings) can be shared with your team members for both viewing and editing (for editing, the sharing account must be Evernote Premium or Business).
  • Every note has a web page view.
  • Notes can include text, images, documents (pdf, etc), tables, and links to other notes or web pages. Your images and documents can by uploaded in the field from your smart phone.
  • You can start taming your information overload right now, today, for free.

Evernote for FM Information

Some useful categories of Evernote pages (with links to examples):

General Facility Data

Create a note that includes general facility information such as:

  • An image of the front of the building.
  • The address.
  • Building area.
  • Parking lot area plus number of spaces.
  • Building occupancy.
  • Information about the building owner and lease if applicable.
  • Certifications (Energy Star, LEED, ISO, etc).
  • Tell me what else you include.

Asset Data

Create a note for each piece of equipment under your responsibility that includes:

  • Make, model, serial number
  • Installation or purchase date
  • Cost of initial purchase and installation (Maybe even scan the invoice(s) and attach it to the note).
  • Some images of the asset.
  • Technical data (electrical, pressures, network address, etc).
  • A link the manual and any other important documents.  You can even store the manuals and other documents right in Evernote.
  • Links to any relevant maintenance or repair procedures which can also be maintained as Evernote notes.
  • A history of issues and resolutions.  You can structure the list as a table and export it to Excel later if you want.
  • A list of common part numbers, where to acquire them, and the most recent known cost.
  • Information about service or lease contracts related to the asset.
  • Contact information for contractors, service providers or vendors.
  • Anything else that might be of use when dealing with the asset (let me know if you think of more).

Example Asset Data

Procedures

You have a lot of these.  I’ll bet a good portion of them are not properly documented or at least not conveniently accessible.  Create a note for each procedure.  Include:

  • Step-by-step instructions.
  • Tools and materials needed.
  • Estimated time requirements.
  • Links to necessary documentation.
  • Required skills or certifications.
  • Photos to help clarify procedure steps.
  • Technicians that carry out the procedure can make notes (Premium/Business on the sharing side required to allow editing of shared notes) that could lead to improvement of the procedure.  The notes will be automatically available to everybody on the team.
  • Anything else?

Example Procedure

Panel Listings

I’m talking about power distribution panels.  How many do you have in your facility?  How many of them have accurate, legible listings inside?  If you make an Evernote note for each panel, you can record as much information as you need about each circuit and then print a new listing to place in the panel whenever you like. For each panel, I like to record the following:

  • The panel name or designation.
  • The location of the panel.
  • Images of the panel with the door open and closed (if it has a door)
  • Make, model, serial number.
  • Breaker types usable in the panel.
  • The name of the device that feeds the panel.
  • The size (in amps) of the service feeding the panel.
  • Voltage and number of phases (120/208 VAC 3-phase).
  • A line or table row for each breaker/fuse with the following information:
    • Breaker size (amps).
    • Breaker type (optional, probably all of the breakers in the panel are the same type which you can note above).
    • Size and color of the wire connected to the breaker.
    • Description of the device or devices fed by the breaker.
    • Locations of any junction boxes that might be useful later.
    • If it is a 2 or 3 pole breaker, list the other breakers it is is tied to.  For example, if I have a 3 pole breaker at 27,29,31, I will put “(27,29,31)” in the information for each of the 3 breakers.
  • What else?

Example Panel Listing

System Descriptions

Many of the things you are responsible for are actually complex systems made up of many parts potentially spread throughout your facility.  I’m thinking of something like a water treatment system (pumps, filters, valves, controllers, etc), a badge access control system (card readers, door locks, computers, controllers, etc), a computer network (switches, routers, wireless access points, patch panels, etc).  So make a page for each system of consequence and include the following:

  • A diagram or other representation of the system’s physical layout (floorplan).
  • A diagram or other representation of the system’s functional layout (block diagram/flow chart).
  • A description of the purpose of the system.
  • A functional description of the system including the purpose of each part and interactions between parts.
  • A system may be made up of a bunch of discrete assets that you already have a page for. Link to those pages.
  • Links to procedures associated with the system.
  • Contact information for the person/people who understand how the system actually works.
  • Anything else you need to know.

Documents

You have forms, diagrams, checklists, manuals, floor plans, and even that scrap of paper with the corrected wiring diagram (come on, you know you have it, too).  If you have paper construction prints that documents all of your electrical, plumbing, mechanical, etc, scan them and put them in there too. Put all of your documents in there.

Room or Space Information

Create a note for each discrete room or space in the facility.  For each space, record anything you might need to know when dealing with that space.  Some Examples are:

  • Finishes (paint, ceiling tile, floor coverings, etc).
  • Light fixtures in the space and lamp or ballast types required.
  • Description of current space usage.
  • Current floor plan drawings
  • Past floor plans can be useful when trying to locate something lost or otherwise undocumented, so keep those too.
  • Dimensions (perimeter, ceiling height, area, etc).
  • HVAC service (which unit, VAV zone, or whatever is appropriate).
  • Locations of shutoff valves for any sinks or other plumbing fixtures in the area.

Record More Things

I certainly haven’t thought of everything, so if you think of another useful category, let me know and I will add it here.

Organize Your Notes with Tags

Storing everything in Evernote is great.  Organizing everything is better.  Evernote allows you to tag your notes to quickly find what you are looking for.  Here are some example tagging ideas:

  • If you have multiple facilities, create a tag for each facility and tag every note (asset, system, space) that relates to that facility.
  • Create a tag for each asset.  This can be something like “Asset19357” or “WarehouseCooler2” or whatever you want to use to uniquely identify each asset.  Tag the asset with its tag and then tag any procedures, documents, systems, or anything else that relates to the asset.  When you search for the tag “Asset19357” you’ll get everything you need.
  • Do the same with your systems.  Tag each asset, procedure, etc that belongs to a system with a tag for the system.
  • You see where this is going.  Think about when you will need each piece of information and then create tags to join the notes together for each relevant context.

Share Your Story With Me

I suggested earlier that the ideal is an integrated CAFM system supporting a finely-tuned process.  But if you don’t have that yet, Evernote is an amazing place to start getting organized.  It might be all you ever need or it might be a stepping stone to a more special-purpose system. If you decide to use Evernote, definitely let me know how it goes for you.  If you are already using Evernote for Facility Management, I would love to hear about that too.

Have fun with it.