A Digital World

Business Development Managers Val Henry and Jason Searle talk modern CAFM/IWMS solutions in an interview for HEFMA Pulse.

So what should we expect from a modern CAFM solution?

Pulse asked Val Henry and Jason Searle, Business Development Managers at CAFM expert, FSI (FM Solutions) for their opinions.

Val Henry says: "CAFM is a digital technology capable of reaching into all aspects of the operation of any facility. From its origins in building and building services maintenance it has evolved to embrace FM in its now widest definition, which often also encompasses optimisation of the business operations (including literally "operations" in the case of hospitals) that take place inside these facilities. The scope and nature of the assets and activities CAFM oversees (whether carried out in-house or by third-party suppliers) provide the substance to which finance, HR and other management information systems need to be anchored to deliver real world management value."

Jason Searle says: "CAFM systems offer a "top table" digital management and reporting tool while at the same time they put into the hands of direct and third-party managers and operatives the necessary information to carry out specific tasks. They offer day-to-day operational as well as strategic management with the scope to embrace all aspects of a multi-site healthcare estate.

"A growing array of FM tasks have been integrated under the CAFM umbrella. This increasingly means ongoing operational aspects of an estate's usage, in addition to the management of building fabric and plant assets, can be viewed holistically from within the CAFM perspective. Space booking modules, for example, in a healthcare context can become bed and operating theatre management enablers - with the added benefit that they are tracking usage, wear and maintenance needs for those assets as well as optimising occupation. Similarly, portering has been embraced to high levels of sophistication."

Estates management programme

Whilst greater integration of providers and services is high on the agenda for the NHS across England, CAFM enables integration of different disciplines, tasks and groups of users across the hospital facilities and estates, including those provided by internal and outsourced teams.

"Critical to successful integration of these groups for effective and efficient working is the shared ‘common truth' that a CAFM system, underlying all their work, offers. From one system and one deployment, one user interface serves back office, self-service, mobile users, contractors - all drawing from and inputting to a common database and driving efficiency and cost savings essential to the NHS," Jason explains. The ability to generate and hold huge amounts of data is another key benefit of the CAFM solution, analysis of which will yield information that can be acted on to improve efficiencies across estates and facilities.

"It gives a true picture of the state of estate assets and the degree of efficiency, or otherwise, of the operation at any point in time," says Val. "Comprehensive auditing of building services assets and management of their lifecycles and maintenance regimes to ensure they are operating efficiently, or replaced (when the data shows how and why they are not) is a core CAFM function.

"The CAFM system provides a record and shows trends and outcomes, in areas such as energy management, to allow operators to be incentivised to optimise their use of the data to improve the efficient performance of numerous aspects of estates management."

Technological developments

 CAFM solutions are being influenced and enhanced by developments including BIM (Building Information Modelling), IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), Biometrics and apps.

"These developments will bring systems that can predict and anticipate the need to take action before failure happens, and therefore more significant maintenance/remediation costs are incurred. And, via apps in particular, they offer the potential to put more FM information, control and feedback potential into the hands of more staff and, increasingly, users/patients of healthcare facilities," says Val.

Jason adds: "CAFM systems today need to be evolutionary in the same way that more software in other fields is becoming. Rolling, incremental updating and upgrading is replacing the often ‘sudden shock' event of the past when a total version update happened.

"An increasingly ‘app'-based approach, drawing on the familiarity of the consumer world of smartphones and tablets, is also part of this incremental change evolution and will ensure enablement for future functionality and engagement with the widest possible user community within the NHS environment."

Conclusions

CAFM can deliver relevant decision-making information to all levels of a healthcare organisation. "The capability of a CAFM system to help optimise the physical environment in which it is deployed, while at the same time influencing the wellbeing of all those who use it, is too extensive to ignore," concludes Val.