FSI Workshops offer the ideal combination of direct knowledge and product focus, helping us to continue providing you with the CAFM solution you need.
Please find below write-ups from the previous FSI wrokshops series.
November 2003: CAD Connect™
Released in June 2003, CAD Connect™ utilises an Autodesk platform with a synchronisation engine to unite your Concept™ data with your existing CAD images.
Current functionality enables you to synchronise asset records with drawing spaces, update personnel placements, review space information – all within the Autodesk environment. Updates and additions made via either the CAD Connect™ or Concept™ interface feed through to the alternate environment, enabling real two-way interaction between your CAD operators and your standard Concept™ system users.
Hosts Eleanor Keir (Implementation Consultant) and Tony Green (Business Solutions Consultant) – led attendees through the existing functionality of CAD Connect™ whilst responding to any questions. Key items for discussion included:
- Compatability with Concept™ – CAD Connect™ is available with either Concept™ SQL or 500, but not with SQL Lite
- Confirmation of the CAD platform required - you must be using AutoCAD 2002/2004 or Architectural Desktop 3 upwards from Autodesk
- Data synchronisation options – synchronisation via both Concept-to-Drawing and Drawing-to-Concept is available
As CAD Connect™ is accessed via the Autodesk environment, it was perhaps a little surprising for some to acknowledge the presence of the key reports available here. In addition to the standard and variable stacking reports which are displayed as additional layouts against your drawing, it was demonstrated that CAD Connect™ also provides access to Crystal Connect™ within Concept™.
The end result is the opportunity to finally welcome the CAD specialist as a true member of your FM team through shared information and collaboration.
August 2003: Concept™ SLA module
Service Level Agreements have become a common feature of the Facilities Management workload. With all parties concerned wanting to clarify the distribution of care involved - given almost any set of foreseeable circumstances - SLAs can be somewhat complex at times.
Senior Implementation Consultant, Steve Jones, stepped up to explain exactly how Concept’s SLA module can accommodate the complexity of your defined SLAs. Assisted by Implementation Consultant Eleanor Keir, Steve began by clarifying the four base components of the SLA module - the SLA Generator; the SLA Remoting Service; the SLA Processing Service; and the SLA Service Manager.
A key focus of discussion was the SLA Matrix which allows you to define your service level agreements and business rules within Concept™. As each business rule is set, you are able to add a series of reactive procedure(s) against each business rule or a group of business rules. The results are shown in a tree structure, enabling you to easily see which rules take precedence over others.
Eleanor and Steve explained that the definitions set within the SLA Matrix enable Concept™ to calculate time allowances for tasks in regard to response, attendance, containment or completion. Possible breaches can then be calculated against parameter, percentage threshold, incidence threshold or scheduled actions. The appropriate reaction can then be established according to achievement or breach of the defined SLAs, including a To-Do List Item or e-mail Item. The aim is for the appropriate personnel to be directly informed and thus able to respond to the specific needs of your business – on time.
March 2003: Reports Workshop
Business Solutions Consultant, Tony Green, undertook the role of host for this event. Drawing upon his knowledge of Concept™ 300, Concept™ SQL/500 and Crystal Reports, Tony began with a synopsis of the Concept’s development in terms of data platform and structure. This growth in FSI’s core product range has led to an increasingly flexible business solution for our Clients in terms of data extraction for reporting requirements.
Concept™ SQL/500 utilises an open database structure. This means that in addition to the standard system reports, Clients are able to apply external query tools such as Crystal Reports, Microsoft Query or other ODBC compliant analysis software, allowing the extraction of information in a format specific to their organisation and requirements.
As Crystal Reports tends to be the option preferred by most Concept™ users, there were some questions surrounding the latest version release of this product and its relationship with Concept™ SQL/500. Both Tony and his co-host, Eleanor Keir, are actively involved in delivering training on Concept™ and Crystal Reports, and were therefore perfectly placed to resolve these queries.
Having discussed Concept’s reporting options and flexibility; the event progressed onto more practical matters – i.e. hands-on experience with Concept™ and the use of Crystal Reports and MS Query. Paired with alternatives such as direct export of system reports to Microsoft Office applications within your core Concept™ product (version 18.104.22.168 onwards), this allowed participants to express personal report requirements while considering the wealth of options available to resolve their needs.
January 2003: Mobile Solutions for Concept™
The theme of Mobile Solutions is increasingly important in today’s context of time efficiency and the seemingly impossible dream of a paperless office. Our subject experts, Darren Sycamore (Mobile Solutions Support Consultant) and David Smith (Product Developer) took us from FSI’s first dealings with mobile technology up to the current day and beyond.
FSI offer two key mobile solutions at present – Pocket Maintenance and Pocket Tracker – allowing your resources to carry out their workload while simultaneously reviewing and updating information from Concept™ via an assigned PDA unit. Both Pocket Maintenance and Pocket Tracker are designed to allow two-way communication between your central Concept™ database and the resource concerned. This is done via a nominated method of synchronisation – that’s the really clever bit!
Information is synchronised between Concept™ and your PDA units via various methods including cradle-based synchronisation, wireless LAN, GSM (global system for mobile communications) or GPRS (general packet radio service). This means that the attending resource can directly update his or her tasks with details of action taken, attendance times and comments with no need to return to the office. It was this notion of remote communication that was key for the majority of those present at the Workshop event. Your chosen method of communication will depend upon various factors such as working environment, business requirements, and financial constraints.
Clients already utilising Mobile Solutions in conjunction with Concept™ confirmed that the benefits have included increased productivity for engineers and reduced administration time spent on processing task-related paperwork. However, even with the existing benefits confirmed, there is definitely more to come from FSI’s Mobile Solutions range. Additional synchronisation methods, an extended range of PDA units to choose from, print and/or photo ability, along with further replication of functionality from your core Concept™ system... the options for development are only limited by your imaginations!
September 2002: Concept™ eSQL
With web access and functionality a big part of all of our working lives nowadays, it seemed highly appropriate for FSI to host a Workshop event focussing upon Concept™ eSQL – the web and Intranet module.
Business Development Manager Adrian Jarvis played host for the day. He began with an explanation of how eSQL found its first tentative roots in a number of bespoke development projects where a web platform offered the greatest opportunity for communication. FSI then developed the product in-house until it constituted a full module for use with all Concept™ SQL and 500 systems.
At this stage, eSQL was a combination of Helpdesk, Room Bookings, Non-Room and Equipment Bookings. Paired with the creative ability to manage style in line with your standard Intranet pages – without having a to be a fully-fledged Web Master! – the module received even more interest than we could have hoped for.
Officially on the market since May 2001, we’ve thought carefully about where to take the module next. Amongst the latest features within Concept™ eSQL, Adrian demonstrated the proposed new sub-modules – Purchase Orders (requisition only), Task Control and Fast Sign-Off – all of which received a very positive reception.
Obviously, the functionality of Concept™ coupled with the flexibility of the web means that this can only be the tip of the iceberg for eSQL! FSI are still currently working with individual Clients to create project specific solutions via corporate Intranet sites. All of this means that the final eSQL solution is likely to remain an ever shifting entity, highly dependent upon your input and requirements. If you couldn’t make it to this event, make sure you put your name forward for an invitation to future events and have your say.
July 2002: Project management within Concept™
Implementation Consultant Heinrich Serfontein led us through the existing capabilities of Concept’s Projects module, with a view to prompting attendees to identify what else their businesses might demand of the software.
It soon became clear that definition of the term ‘project’ could not be easily pinned down. However, whilst the distinction between day-to-day task and project might be unclear in terms of the work involved, it was agreed that common themes might include increased cost or the sheer magnitude of work involved. Such considerations demand increased management and control tools – enter the Projects module.
One of the key advantages of managing projects within Concept™ is that all key information such as Buildings, Key Personnel, Resources and Suppliers is already set up within your base system. You’re working with existing information in a manner consistent to daily utilisation. This eases the path for information sharing amongst colleagues, putting an end to exchanging ad-hoc data formats and queries regarding unfamiliar terminology.
Heinrich also demonstrated the additional related functionality already present via your Concept™ base system. For example, using the Extended Business Helpdesk (available within version 22.214.171.124 onwards) allows you to monitor existing tasks against a building or an asset, enabling you to instantly consider the impact of a reactive task against a related project.
All in all, the benefits of managing your projects via a system already configured to reflect your organisation was duly noted. With a final summary provided by Heinrich, the Workshop was concluded – hopefully leaving everyone with a stronger insight into the Projects module and definitely leaving us buzzing with the positive feedback!
May 2002: UMS (Message Server)
Implementation Consultant, Lee McCarthy, was host for this event, assisted by Support Manager, Dermot Rudd. By way of setting the scene for the benefits of implementing UMS, Lee began by outlining the shortfalls of communication without it, such as time-consumption, unreliability of audit-trail, and rapid depletion of rain forests via excessive paper trails . . . So how can UMS within Concept™ help your business?
As Lee explained, UMS - or Universal Message Server, to give it its full name – allows many functions to be automated within your Concept™ system. There are currently two standard drivers offered by FSI – Job Info and Jobcard Info – with many others written on a bespoke basis to meet individual Client needs.
Both standard drivers were demonstrated, allowing attendees to view both front-end application and recipient interface simultaneously. For example, as Lee applied the Job Info driver, everyone could see the resulting e-mails arrive Client-end detailing insert, edit, closure or cancellation of the task within Concept.
As conversation turned to discussion of Client specific UMS drivers, almost everyone was able to identify Concept™ related communication processes within their business that might qualify. Customer Satisfaction Forms, Room Booking confirmation, memory prompts for issuing PPM tasks – the selection was varied, to say the least! Evidence that the benefits of UMS within Concept™ can be far-reaching for any organisation, given thought and considered implementation.
March 2002: Reporting and Concept™ SQL
Host for the day was Senior Implementation Consultant, Tony Green. Beginning with a presentation covering the history of Concept’s transition in terms of technological platform and structure, Tony led into the key topic of customised system reporting.
Having explained the reporting possibilities afforded by Concept™ SQL - in addition to the standard system reports provided within the software - Tony was able to go on to outline forthcoming system features and data extraction options for your system. The next public version release of Concept™ will include the ability to export formatted standard reports to an external application such as Microsoft Excel, Word or Outlook. Upon demonstration, this feature was readily welcomed by attendees with anticipation of the ability to easily distribute reports throughout a business.
Attending clients were also advised that there are a variety of third party reporting tools available, ranging from basic data extraction to fully customisable report creation software. For top-level reporting needs, the product most commonly encountered by FSI is Seagate Crystal Reports. Use of Crystal Reports in conjunction with a Concept™ database was demonstrated during the afternoon’s practical sessions.
In addition to Crystal Reports, attendees were invited to participate in a practical session using Microsoft Query in conjunction with Concept. Clients were asked to consider the specific customised reports required within their particular business, with the aim of achieving hands-on data extraction techniques directly beneficial to their specific organisation. Due to Concept’s data structure, this is made simple with a little instruction in the use of your chosen extraction tool. Whatever method of reporting you choose, this Workshop proved that Concept™ can handle it!
Jan 2002: Eclipse Facility Bookings
Covering the long-forgotten roots of the module, from CBS and stand-alone systems, to integration with Concept™ and the formation of items such as the Booking Matrix, our presentation included demonstration of the product and it’s capabilities. This included displaying new features such as the new alternative Daily Utilisation Plus window.
The introduction of Concept™ eSQL has opened up further options for system interaction with Eclipse and time was taken to highlight some of the key features. Intranet capability is something FSI is now finding to be a key pre-requisite for many clients.
The aim of the afternoon discussion session was to discover what FSI’s clients actually want from Eclipse in future. Many requested easier visual verification of bookings, something the new Daily Utilisation Plus goes actually provides. For example, it was proposed that a fixed pane at the top of the Scan Window be included, allowing the User to view column titles no matter which room/row they’re viewing.
The concept of booking-related tasks (such as setting up requested equipment prior to booking) was raised, including the automatic generation of e-mail tasks for the personnel involved. The idea of generating related tasks via Eclipse was another suggestion, calling for further integration with the core system via automatic population of the Call Logging and Task Control screens.
All in all, quite a few suggestions came out of the day and were duly noted via FSI's PCR (Product Change Request) system.
September 2001: Product Preview 2001
Friday 28th September saw FSI opening the doors for a sneak preview of forthcoming products for your Concept™ SQL system. As with all our Workshops, demand to attend was high but as your invitation stated, it’s first-come, first-serve!
Amongst those lucky enough to secure a place were representatives from organizations such as AMEC, Axima FM, BlueShield Services, Carillion Services, City University, Deutsche Bank, DTLR (Department Transport London Region) and Lorne Stewart.
We can’t go into too much detail here but Karl Horner (FSI’s Associate Director of Research and Development) presented a number of new products including a new alternative Helpdesk screen along with a range of Handheld Solutions and a completely new system module! In addition to a formal presentation/discussion session in the morning, practical sessions were held in the afternoon offering hands-on experience of the new software for it future Users.
But don’t feel too bad that you couldn’t make it! Why not visit FSI and our full range of new products at this year’s FM ExPo? From October 16th to 18th, you’ll be able to find us at stand K30 at ExCel in London’s Docklands. Simply contact Esther Laflin (Sales Administrator) should you require any further details.
As with every Workshop, we rely upon your input and comments to help us continue to deliver the products you and your business need. Throughout the day, FSI personnel were busy taking note of everyone’s comments - positive and negative! - to pass on to the Development Team. This is just one of the ways you can formally submit your suggestions for future product development.
July 2001: Developing the Helpdesk of the future
Any organisation operating a Helpdesk service knows that this is the most frequent point of contact with your clients. As such, an effective Helpdesk must aim to be courteous, efficient, thorough and accessible - all at the same time!
The Concept™ SQL Helpdesk aims to make logging a request as simple as possible. FSI have always been conscious that Concept™ must evolve as a product to account for the developing needs of your organisation. To do this, we need to hear your views and requirements via our regular Workshop events focusing on specific system areas. Attendees at July's Workshop Event were invited to offer and discuss ideas relating to the Concept™ reactive Helpdesk function.
The question raised at the Workshop was 'What else would make your Helpdesk function even more effective?' As FSI’s own Helpdesk/Support Manager explained, the aim of the event was to establish the core elements required in the Concept™ SQL Helpdesk by the majority of customers. Discussion took place regarding current functionality as well as suggestions for future features such as user definable screens and call logging Wizards to assist Helpdesk Operators.
In addition to discussing requirements and suggestions for the Concept™ SQL Helpdesk, Workshop attendees were able to openly compare workplace experiences in a neutral environment. With a mixture of both new and old Concept™ SQL users present - from a variety of backgrounds - conversation was varied to say the least!