Exploring the Future of CAFM

FMJ takes a close look at the trends impacting CAFM, talking to industry experts, including FSI, about their views on outsourcing, mobile technology, access requirements, hot desking, early adoption of technology and more.

Earlier this year, FMJ sat down with Claire Visser, director at CAFM Explorer, who had plenty of interesting things to say about CAFM systems and their role in the future of the FM industry.

"Facilities management is an ever-changing landscape," Visser says.  "So is technology.  People and companies need to have a continuing drive to educate themselves and understand trends.

"At CAFM Explorer we aim to provide a comprehensive, all-in-one facilities software solution designed to deliver the functionality a business needs to run an efficient and compliant facility.  As standard, we cover areas such as help desk, cost control, asset tracking, property management, room booking and include an intuitive reporting dashboard.  Beyond this, clients have the opportunity to grow into the software however and whenever they need to.  This all-inclusive funtionality is in itself the first trend we are seeing - customers no longer want disparate systems and appreciate and benefit from having all of their date in one place."

Of course in such a rapidly-developing industry, companies also need to be aware, as far as possible, about how needs and technology are changing so that they can adapt accordingly.  What other trends have CAFM Explorer identified?

"Outsourcing FM support services is almost guaranteed in many sectors, but more and more companies are preferring to directly own their CAFM system.  There are a variety of reasons for this, with many FMs now understanding just how valuable the information and intelligence gathered can be.  Owning data not only provides greater visibility, it also gives companies the ability to be compliant where required and to adjust and manage their facilities efficiently according to their organisational requirements.

"Similarly mobile technology is becoming more common, both for auditing and business efficiency.  Alongside this, we are also seeing an increase in requests for access from any device (BYOD) which creates its own issues - a good CAFM solution will be able to handle this request!"

"The advances in the mobile sector are improving FM efficiency everyday by streamlining the entire process and improving communication. As always, the people who are able to adopt the most beneficial technology first will stand to benefit the most in the future.

"Finally, we are seeing that customers are wanting to future-proof themselves and adopt more robust and efficient ways of managing their facilities. Intelligent buildings, increased hot desking, integrations with smart building monitoring systems and pressures on utilisation mean there are a growing number of users looking to broaden the functionality, tracking and reporting available within their CAFM system."

So far so good, but do the other major players in the CAFM sector agree with CAFM Explorer's assessment?  FMJ spoke to them to find out.


SERVICE WORKS GROUP

Gary Watkins, CEO at Service Works Group had the following to say: "Facilities management is a forward-thinking profession, embracing technology to improve the efficiency of the FM function.  The industry is showing growing confidence in the benefits of Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) software, with the percentage of facilities managers reporting using FM software increasing year-on-year.

The continued key challenge of budgetary pressure is having a positive impact on the number of businesses adopting CAFM. In an industry that is fighting its way towards the board room, with an increased responsibility for productivity and workforce satisfaction, facilities managers are recognising that using CAFM creates value through the ability to make better informed management decisions and employing more efficient working practices to increase service quality and output.

"Transparency and information management are vital for managing large areas of space, assets and buildings, as well as the many requests of a diverse workforce and contractual SLAs and KPIs.  The comprehensive reporting capability of FM software provides facilities managers with access to business critical information, enabling them to manipulate data to aid strategic FM planning whilst ensuring complete auditability.

"Integrating CAFM with other software applications is also becoming more commonplace as businesses strive to improve operational efficiency.

"Many organisations are realising how FM software can be integrated with a wide range of systems, including BMS (building management systems), accounting software, ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions, human resources tools, security access systems, space planning applications, environmental management systems, BIM (building information modelling), smart assets, geolocation systems, CAD (computer-aided design), and health and safety registers, to give the capability to deliver one version of the truth and to create a fully functional enterprise-wide solution.

"With BIM as a mandatory requirement on all UK public sector projects, and as BIM gains global momentum, there is a slow but steady move to integrate CAFM with BIM.  This offers a great opportunity for the facilities industry to impact the whole life-cost of a building by working collaboratively with the architecture and construction sectors.  Interfacing CAFM software with BIM streamlines the move from design and construction to operation, allowing facilities managers to leverage BIM data in order to quickly build an accurate asset register upon which effective reactive Maintenance tasks and PPM activities can be scheduled.

"The continued upward trend for outsourcing in the FM industry goes hand-in-hand with clients' expectations for financial savings, improved technical expertise and access to best practice. This is mirrored by an FM industry that is looking to reap the benefits of FM software to create a more productive and cost-efficient workplace.  CAFM, along with other technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and mobile apps, are the new holy grail for improving FM delivery services and transparency, while ‘big data' and analytics link data to decision making to improve productivity and service quality. Big data has entered the arena in a flamboyant fashion as organisations explore the potential for business improvement that can be achieved by maximising the wealth of information we have at our fingertips.  Almost every aspect of work is affected by, or relies upon, evidence and data and the world of FM is no exception."

 

FSI

Karl Broom, senior business development manager at FSI shared his views: "Outsourcing of FM support services by major clients may be a given at this point, however, direct possession of the CAFM system as a client asset is becoming increasingly the norm. This is because the developing capabilities of the system and the value, ease-of-use and reach of the analysis of the data it can gather are being recognised as too vital a strategic corporate asset to be in the hands of a third-party.

"This prompts a recognition of the importance of integration tools where both client and FM provider may wish to retain their own CAFM systems which therefore need to inter-relate intimately.

"Methods of doing this on the front-line, without recourse to back-room coders, are benefiting from developments such as our workflow tools for data exchange.

"The mobile technology component within a CAFM system is now viewed by most of the market as a key, given capability, that comes as part of an initial implementation. The next phase of mobile development is moving beyond the use of mobile devices for data input and distribution of work instructions to core staff.

"We are gradually seeing buy-in from the wider workforce and other stakeholders (such as a university's students) to make use of easy-to-access and use mobile apps to report asset failures, book meeting rooms and hot desks.

"What will follow next will be increasing the value of mobile for analytics; apps that allow more strategic decisions to be taken on-site, on-the-spot.

"Critical to winning this buy-in is the need from the CAFM industry to avoid ‘digital disappointment' among the potential user base. The familiarity of so-called digital natives with the way offerings that come from Apple, and other app/operating system developers, demands that the first-time experience from a CAFM app must rank as familiar and satisfying in its use. Any early loss of confidence from this wider user cohort could take a long time to recover from.

"The cloud is increasingly accepted as a secure way to host business applications.  The reason behind use of a CAFM system is inextricably linked with the need for access to a (secure) always-on, 24/7 presence. The two elements are made for each other and this was a key driver in prompting us to invest in a business that offers a cloud delivery solution for our CAFM system.

"The rise of flexible working, at home or remotely, alongside a desire for businesses to reduce expensive office overheads and minimise floor space, prompted the initiation of the hot desk culture.

"We can see that the CAFM element has two key roles to play on behalf of a client.

"First, measuring and delivering the analytics of take-up, occupancy rates and patterns of use, to allow accurate provisioning of the level of hot desk resource.

"Second, offering a booking system which helps in winning over the client's workforce to the desirability of using hot desking."


QUBE

Qube Global Software also gave us their expertise. "The world of work is changing at a rapid pace. How can corporate real estate and facilities teams ensure they are not left behind.  Here at Qube we think real estate and facilities managers face a growing imperative to adopt new ways of working to quickly deliver a more efficient workplace and allow agile working practices.

"Traditionally, real estate and FM departments were simply tasked with lowering property costs or fixing broken assets. But increasingly they have the entire responsibility for space and workplace strategy, especially in mid-size businesses where a dedicated workspace function does not necessarily exist.

"Of course, there are two ways for teams to respond to this: resist the additional responsibility or embrace it as an opportunity to add more value and elevate the standing of CRE and FM throughout the company.

"The digital priorities going forward for CAFM and CRE systems will focus around employee engagement and corporate culture. Companies will need to look at information and technology and its' relationship to the workplace.

"Measurement will be key in the future.  Companies are looking to know what's the percentage of occupancy by location?  What are employee satisfaction levels like per location?  How many managers' desks do I have available?  Are meeting rooms being underused?  This is where space management technology can play a crucial step in the journey towards a digital workplace."


ANDERS + KERN

Finally marketing manager at Anders+Kern, John Gorman, gave FMJ his views: "CAFM solutions need to remain flexible and agile to the changes in technology and ever growing requirements of today's FM professionals.

"Business requirements such as hot desking, use of mobile technology and access control all play a role and can be found in the latest CAFM software and meeting room booking screen technology.

"CAFM software such as Concierge Booking for Outlook can handle all aspects of booking meeting rooms, hot-desking, visitor management, parking spaces, resources, catering and other services for meetings and events.

"CAFM systems need the flexibility to cater for the requirements of agile working and mobile employees. For employees who are not permanently based at the office with an allocated workstation, they need a hot-desking solution that needs to be effectively managed.

"Taking into consideration that office space accounts for one of the highest operational costs, the potential for utilising the workspace and cutting down costs is significant.  With CAFM solutions such as Concierge Booking you can book desks from Microsoft Outlook, from touch screens with floor plan layout and from mobile devices. You can easily search for available desks and book them for a specified period of time.

"The ever increasing trend of employee remote and mobile working means CAFM resources need to be readily available and easily accessible anywhere (not just at a PC).

"Making CAFM resources easily accessible via smartphones, tablets and the browser will increase mobility and allow employees to book rooms, resources and catering services from anywhere. This ensures that all employees can access data and are not restricted to being in the building - making it ideal for organisations who want to increase the employees' productivity and flexibility. 

"Visitor management is an important part of a CAFM solution. It can provide an overview of expected visitors, visitors who are in the building and whom they are meeting with.

"The Concierge visitor management module allows you to pre-book visitors for meetings and the reception staff can sign visitors in/out and print visitor cards. Visitors can even sign in from a self-registration screen, laptop or terminal.

"You can also add extra information about the guests so that the reception staff at the location knows who is expected and is aware of any special requirements. When pre-booking a visitor, the visitor management software can also send an email to the guest containing a road description and QR code for easy signing in or opening the gate.

"Meeting room spaces can also be effectively managed by touch screen room booking displays located outside the meeting room space. These clearly show green or red lights to indicate the availability of the room. These can be booked either at the touch screen or via Outlook.

"Room booking touch screens, such as Fischer & Kerrn room panel and Evoko Liso are able interface with RFID technology or pin code security for user authentication.

"Users can easily check in to their meetings and make new bookings simply by holding their RFOD card up to the screen.

"As part of a total CAFM solution, the Fischer & Kerrn meeting room panel has the benefit of integrating directly with the Concierge software via the Display module. This means all available and relevant information for a room booking can be displayed on the screen. It is also possible to request customised screen layouts to match with corporate branding."