Infrastructure – whether it concerns office buildings for a developer, stores for a retailer, or refineries and transmission lines for an oil and gas company – is key to business and relatively simple: Plan it, build it, and operate it. And the faster, the better.Discouraged by the inability to optimize and expand infrastructure to take advantage of market influences and to impact top- and bottom-line revenues? Today, a holistic approach can bring together individual point solutions – formerly available only through different vendors and different applications – to offer one clear (and interactive) picture of a company’s projects, says John Bodrozic, president and co-founder of Meridian Project Systems (MPS), Folsom, CA, which provides enterprise software solutions.“We term it an ‘infrastructure life-cycle management approach,’ which brings together a strong technology platform with robust business applications and a business intelligence layer,” he says. “Each layer addresses the business problems of senior executives, project managers, and the IT department. Senior executives need to analyze the operations of the entire business (‘How do I process information internally among multiple departments?’); project managers need to control scope, budget, and schedules (‘What am I building? How much does it cost? When is it going to get done?’); and the corporate IT department must consolidate multiple solutions and lower the total cost of ownership (by launching the solution on universal software architecture, namely around XML Web services).”Bodrozic uses the analogy of Microsoft® to explain what this holistic approach – in the realm of project and facilities management software – can mean to buildings professionals. “If you remember back in the mid-1980s, WordPerfect was the dominant word processor, Lotus 1-2-3 was the dominant spreadsheet, and Harvard Graphics was the dominant presentation software. Microsoft was the first company to build a suite: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Over time, the suite mentality – as opposed to a collection of point solutions from different vendors – became important, as everything was in sync,” he explains, noting users’ rationale: “ ‘I don’t have to spend time integrating these things; I don’t have to teach users three different applications; I don’t have to manage three different security models; and I don’t have to keep up with three different release cycles.’ ”Used as a corporate-wide implementation model, an infrastructure life-cycle management approach can:Improve visibility into corporate performance. Management can instantly analyze real-time project scope, budget, and schedule information via the Internet.Improve time-to-market for new and remodeled facilities. Actionable information can be provided to the right person at the right time to allow optimal collaboration regarding projects.Enhance corporate governance compliance. By standardizing business processes across the enterprise, organizational efficiency and corporate governance compliance are improved.Reduce project and program risk. Consistent and repeatable processes can be enforced; all project activities are documented in order to inform the entire project team of any changes.Lower total cost of ownership for IT solutions. Multiple non-integrated point solutions are eliminated by consolidating project scopes, budgets, contracts, and schedules into one enterprise solution.Linda K. Monroe ([email protected]) is editorial director at Buildings magazine.