Strategic Decisions

From a single-site, single-purpose CAFM system, to an enterprise-scale solution, FSI, developers of the Concept Evolution web-CAFM solution, discusses with PFM magazine.

On the one hand, the very word enterprise can trigger visions of unwieldy projects and failed implementations. On the other, the benefits and economies of scale offered by enterprise systems are a compelling answer to any organisation's drive for greater efficiency, leaner overheads and more streamlined business processes.

And that's where a comprehensive, scalable system such as Concept Evolution comes into its own: an enterprise CAFM application that links seamlessly with other core business systems, from HR to Finance. With their capacity to become the backbone of a successful business, fully integrated with the other applications that support day-today processes, such applications are the conduit that keeps the data and information flowing freely and effectively across the organisation.

Whether you are contemplating an enterprise-scale strategy from a traditional single-site starting point or as a green-field operation, building your systems architecture from scratch, these platforms can be the starting point for a new way of life for the business - growing at a pace dictated by the needs and goals of the people who are using it.

That's the beauty of a system driven by a single, scalable database. The ability to segregate the data means that CAFM end-users and service providers can define an infinite range of different user groups and give them access to relevant data slices. Many of these organisations are already using it to manage contractors or clients. on a nationwide or regional basis, or to define different groups of contractors or hierarchies for specific clients. In these implementations, Concept Evolution becomes a fullyfledged enterprise system that manages the complete client base.

The single database approach also pays dividends across the geography of a global organisation. The system is multi-lingual and manages different time zones, but with end-users accessing the same data source, the business also realises the efficiency and benefits of implementing one system across the entire estate. The administrative and management challenges of maintaining a portfolio of regioregional or local single-site applications are eradicated at a stroke.

The system is in every respect an enterprise-ready application: day one is just the starting point for an implementation that can grow with the business's needs, introducing new modules as and when they are required. The underlying database remains the same, ensuring consistency and 360-degree views of the data at every stage in the system's lifecycle.

One of the major challenges for enterprise systems from Concept Evolution to Oracle and SAP has been the mobilisation of the end-user community - and the business imperative to turn this into more efficient and productive processes. Extending the system's reach meansorganisations have to be able to compartmentalise aspects into apps that address the needs of end-users in the field - users who simply don't need the full-blown system.  Applications sucah as FSI GO allow the business to segment data for mobile access in infinitely flexible ways.

Benefits like this are constant, whether you are running the system in-house or decide to pursue a hosted strategy.  Budget constraints or a board's reluctance to commit to IT infrastructure investment are no longer a barrier to reaping the  benefits of an enterprise-scalesystem - if you choose a supplier who supports the innovative software delivery models and hosted services made possible by today's cloud computing architectures.

If you source your system from a software vendor with a strong track record in building enterprise solutions - including the professional services that will support your efforts to maximise the value of your investment - you will benefit from a rich repository of experience in delivering projects on a national and international scale. That support runs through every layer of the implementation, ensuring the right skills are available and accessible at each stage.

This end-to-end support is intrinsic to a successful enterprise-scale CAFM project. It helps the system to become
an integral part of the operation from the start - from the identification of the original goals and intentions for the system, to the requests for changes and customisation that emerge as the project progresses. And it is a key factor in reinforcing your Return on Investment, helping to counter any lingering nervousness about committing to an enterprise-scale CAFM strategy.

Karl Broom is Business Development Manager, FSI (FM Solutions) Limited