Come Together

CAFM solutions offer much more than FM and PPM functionality.  Properly integrated, they can form a pivotal part of your business, according to Karl Broom, Business Development Manager of FSI (FM Solutions) Limited, as Tomorrow's FM reports.

Day One Problems
When clients start thinking about a CAFM solution, there is always a Day One problem that needs addressing: typically, they want to manage the maintenance activities across their entire estate.  CAFM obviously answers this need in one integrated platform.  The core function of a CAFM solution is to provicd FM functionality, helping the FM team manage both the lifecycle of their work and the lifecycle of their assets more effectively.

But CAFM can be so much more than that.  The best systems give you an array of bolt-on modules that can make it a central part of your business, serving the disparate needs of different business units.

The Bigger Picture
The best analogy is to think of your smartphone.  it isn't just a device for making and receiving telephone calls and texts anymore.  Instead, you use it to receive news updates, shop online, book your parking at the train station, play music, record home videos, and keep track of your expenses.  It is an essential part of all elements of your daily life.

Effective CAFM solutions are the same.  The Day One problems that they address are the equivalent of the call and text functionality ofyour smartphone: the tip of the iceberg.

Day Two Problems
So, the system has been implemented and the client now looks to what else can be achieved with their CAFM Solution.

Day Two problems therefore typically involve extending the CAFM application across wider FM activities, as the technical team begins to appreciate the wider functionality.  For example, the FM quotes system can be integrated with the CAFM solution, enabling several quotes to be obtained for a job, the best one selected and the job progressed through the system, automating it from start to finish.  The best CAFM solutions will enable you to consolidate all your FM processes into one interface, rather than having disparate systems.

FM functionality can be further extended when CAFM solutions offer the ability to integrate with third-party systems.  For exampley, integration with your Building Management Systems (BMS) can enable the CAFM solution to respond to alarms raised by assets and analyse both the problem and the solution.   This can change the mindset of maintenance from a planned to a run-time business, helping increase efficiency across FM activities.

CAFM solutions offer an extension of a mobile platform and can also enable engineers to manage their time and taskload from the field, creating further efficiencies.  Plus they can be expanded to encompass a multi-site, multi-country operation, whilst still being able to operate locally across one platform, giving a holistic view across the entire estate.

As well as extending the application across the FM division, it is also possible to open it up to the wider business. In addition to the technical team using it to schedule regular asset servicing, end users can use it to report problems that need attention - such as a room being too hot or too cold - through a self-service helpdesk.  Self-service portals can empower end users to report the problem from their own device, track the progress of the job through to resolution and even examine the KPIs of the FM division.  Logging reactive tasks through self-service portals enables the wider business to interact with the FM team, making the CAFM product more visible, but crucially also making the FM service more visible.

Business-wide Integration
A flexible CAFM system can provide solutions beyond FM requirements.  Integration with your CAFM and BMS systems can also create a seamless experience for booking meeting rooms for visitors: from the moment your visitor arrives, the system can automatically alert their host through text or email, print their visitor badge, book them into their hot-desk space or meeting room and even turn on the electricity supply and air conditioning where they will be based.  It's a seamless user experience, but one that also delivers tremendous efficiencies.

Integration with the finance systems allows for greater visibility and control of budgets, as well as removing much of the pain of paperwork, for example automatically triggering purchase orders once quotes have been approved.  Integration with the HR system can speed up requisitioning; for example the records of approved sub-contractors sited on the HR system can be approved for use within the CAFM system, enabling jobs to be allocated more swiftly to sub-contractors.

Less obvious applications are beginning to emerge all the time, as clients push the boundaries of where the technology can go.  The FM scope of works is ever-changing and expanding, and current client requests include the development of a chauffeur app as a bolt-on to the core CAFM system: the company's chauffeurs no longer need to return to base to pick up their next job, or even pull over to take note of the details, but instead will receive precise instructions while they are on the go, straight to their device.  Meanwhile, the organisation can track exactly where the chauffeurs are in their journey through their GPS location, enabling them to allocate jobs more efficiently and advise on arrival times as required.

The Commissioning Challenge
It is normally the Day One problem that triggers an investigation into CAFM as a potential business investment.  But having an understanding of what else the system might do for your business from the outset, together with an idea of how you might like to be using it over the next two to three years, will enable you to develop a more strategic partnership with your CAFM provider.

With the Internet of Things changing the landscape for technology, and by introducing more connected devices, opting for a system that offers flexibility will enable it to fulfil your businesses needs and processes most successfully as these expand and adapt.