ECH is a leading provider of aged care services across South Australia and Darwin, within the Northern Territory. It provides affordable homes and a full range of services and residential options, from independent living units to residential care facilities – all designed to help older people enhance their independence, stay involved in their community, and continue to enjoy the activities that they value.
The business has a large portfolio of properties: more than 1650 affordable independent retirement accommodation units across 98 locations around Adelaide and Victor Harbor, which are home to some 1795 residents who benefi t from ECH’s services; and 11 residential care facilities with 1000 low and high care places. In addition, its community support programs assist more than 1200 older people to maintain their independence in their own homes.
ECH has experienced tremendous growth on both the client and property fronts in recent years, which has required the company to continually improve its service models, methods and processes. In 2011, it formed a working party to develop and implement a new Facilities Management lifecycle care model, underpinned by specialist or bespoke CAFM software, to ensure the economical and cost-effi cient use and care of its assets.
The new software would replace a legacy custom-designed system for managing Independent Living and Maintenance Services, which was no longer meeting the business’s requirements.
ECH embarked on a rigorous assessment of the CAFM market, which included the gathering and documentation of functional requirements and report recommendations influenced by the new FM model, the formation of a well-defined project management structure and evaluation panel, and a clear definition of business objectives.
The company identified 15 potential CAFM platforms, which it rated against its business requirements before reducing them to a shortlist of three.
The successful candidate would be expected to deliver a comprehensive portfolio of functions: asset management (including lifecycle), work requests (scheduling and allocation), PPM, stores management, history of requests, records management, contractor management, full reporting capabilities, and integration with core business systems including purchase and client management.
FSI’s Concept Evolution™ emerged as the leading contender. But as Kelly Mendes, Manager, Administration Support, explains, it had to prove itself thoroughly before getting the final go-ahead.
“The project team analysed the feedback from the demonstration of three off-the-shelf CAFM systems, and Concept Evolution™ stood out with its ability to support the new FM model and future-proof our business,” she says. “The client references we followed up as part of our due diligence suggested that the vendor would be competent and good to deal with, and the system is of high quality, comprehensive, configurable and flexible.”
A full scoping exercise was then carried out before the final proposal was signed, which included a four-day visit from a Connexxion consultant (Connexxion is FSI’s delivery partner), ensuring that the scoping document was fully aligned with the business requirements. The agreement was reviewed by the company’s lawyers and finally, after adjustments to some clauses – all readily absorbed by FSI, according to Kelly - Concept Evolution™ was commissioned.
The scoping study was completed in January 2013 and the agreement signed in March. The system was installed in April and rolled out in stages during the following year.
“We decided to take on a phased approach as we were willing to implement all the aspects of all modules,” says Kelly.
“We wanted to concentrate on the asset management module first, as this was our priority at the time. This went live in July. In total, we spent 12 months from system installation implementing all the modules. However, much of that time was needed for our business improvement process, and gathering the right information to be uploaded to the system.”
Kelly says the CAFM project’s major challenges centred on the quality of the company’s data. ECH was undergoing a major plant and equipment stocktake, and the data provided by the legacy system was not 100% accurate – so manipulating the information before uploading it to Concept™ took quite a while.
“Another challenge was resource availability,” she says. “For the first six months of the implementation, we had a full-time, dedicated project manager. After that other projects were taken on, and that diverted attention – and definitely had an impact on the timeframe.
“If I could give one piece of advice to people interested in implementing Concept Evolution™ it would be to invest in at least one “champion” resource to oversee the implementation. It will save you time and money, and you will make sure requirements are met at all times.”
ECH chose Concept Evolution Plus™, which would fulfil all its task management, asset management, document control, and contractor management requirements. It also purchased Concept Reach™ to enable its site managers and clients to manage their own requests, and Concept Connect™ - which provides a portal to its main service providers.
Task management went live in November 2013, followed by Reach in February 2014, and Connect in March.
“The add-on modules, Workflow Professional and Digital Dashboard, were essential to deliver the interfaces with our current systems and the intelligence we wanted for our processes,” says Kelly. “Last but not least, we added FSI GO™ to the project because it was crucial to make all the benefits of the new system available to our mobile workforce.”
FSI and its local partner Connexxion both scored highly for their attention to detail and responsiveness throughout the implementation project. FSI impressed with the breadth of its knowledge and a ‘no pressure’ approach during the sales cycle.
“We didn’t want to be contacted every two days to know where were at because we were taking the time to compare other products and match them to our needs,” says Kelly.
“Our evaluation process was very detailed and long, and it was great not having a vendor following up or
hassling us all the way. On the other hand, every time we contacted them, they were available and happy to help.
“The implementation team from Connexxion was just as helpful, with a lot of system knowledge and great support. We built a great customer/supplier relationship, and there was never anything we asked for that they couldn’t deliver or were unwilling to investigate the options.”
It is still early days to describe the full benefits of implementing Concept Evolution™ but Kelly says there have already been tangible results on two fronts: improved service delivery of reactive works, which is a key strategy in ECH’s customer experience goals; and the establishment of specific records management assigned to buildings and assets.
Major initial benefits include easy access to the system for all staff. Being web-based, it is accessible from wherever employees have an internet connection.
“Home office working is becoming a regular practice and web access to Concept™ provides the flexibility we need to cater for that,” says Kelly. “Smartphones and tablet are also part of our reality, and FSI GO™ has transformed our team into self-sufficient and efficient professionals.” She says the flexibility delivered by the system is incredible. The workflow module provides business intelligence on a whole new level, and has enabled the automation of legacy manual processes.
“Then there is live performance management,” she says. “With the click of a button, we get instant graphs and reports showing the status of our tasks, buildings and assets. The ability to plan our asset lifecycle will deliver financial benefits and provide the tools to closely manage all our assets including service history and recurrent problems.”
Concept Evolution™ is still bedding down at ECH but there are already a number of exciting possibilities for greater integration in the future.
“We are currently undergoing a strategic property review, and there is a possibility we will at the project module to support our capital works team,” says Kelly. “We are also very interested in the quotes and purchase order modules. We currently have another system to manage purchasing, but there is a possibility that we will eventually combine all our property management and FM tools in one system.”