CAFM and IT in 2011
What is the prediction for CAFM and IT in 2011? A short and, some might say, easy question to answer perhaps? However, taking a look at the legacy relationship between CAFM and IT, the question perhaps should instead be: How can the relationship between CAFM and IT be improved in order to provide a winning customer experience?
CAFM solutions have been in existence in the Facilities Management (FM) industry for well over 20-years, however, there has never been an easy relationship between the FM and IT departments. Yet, the modern workplace will struggle without the use of IT for day-to-day activities. So, why is there still a struggle to marry the two up?
CAFM is paramount to the FM industry, not only to bring together a range of business information and applications, but also to provide an enhanced experience to customers. IT would therefore seem to be the obvious ally in providing this customer experience.
True, the importance of CAFM is far better understood now than it ever has been, and FM is in a prime position to show its value in any organisation. It is difficult however to shake off the legacy perception of the FM department being a big spender, without always adhering rigidly to company processes.
In the current economic climate, procurement is the cost centre experiencing tighter controls. The procurement of a CAFM system these days will therefore surely lend itself to the IT department, who can justify this spend and who can support the new hosted delivery models available. This therefore addresses many of the cost issues which in the past had been related to a major investment in software systems.
The IT department should also be involved in the procurement process far earlier than it currently is. Legacy shows that FM has been slow to invite IT into the procurement discussions. With their early buy-in, the IT department can add to the argument for procuring a CAFM solution.
IT is the department which can provide most influence in joining up legacy and new systems into one business resource, consolidated in a platform which runs the full FM function for an organisation, locally, nationally and internationally.
Furthermore, the importance of IT in the modern FM arena is bolstered by the introduction of web-based CAFM. By providing a single, integrated view of activities across an entire portfolio which is accessed through a standard web browser, web-based CAFM is wholly reliable on IT to provide the necessary platforms and infrastructure for information to be instantly available to businesses and end customers, wherever they may be.
A web-based CAFM solution opens the door to easier and lower-cost IT maintenance, not to mention the consolidation of system infrastructure, thereby reducing expenditure costs.
To further reduce IT expenditure and maintenance costs, organisations can choose the outsourcing or Software As A Service (SAAS) route. SAAS is a software distribution model allowing organisations to fully utilise IT products without disruption to day-to-day operations, whilst maintaining control of FM costs. Typically, IT products are hosted over the web by an Application Service Provider in a secure environment, accessible by the end-users back at base. SAAS removes the need to install and run these IT products on networks at base, therefore removing software maintenance, ongoing operation and support resources, and the need for capital investment in server hardware. In summary, SAAS provides a simple pay-as-you-go solution offering a cost effective delivery of IT products.
Web-based CAFM solutions, SAAS and the demand for remote working, all prove that the IT department has never been more vital to the FM function than it is today.