The complexity and breadth of modern CAFM projects demands a much more integrated partnership approach to meeting client needs. FMJ asks four CAFM vendors, including FSI, how they meet this challenge.
Claire Visser, Director, CAFM Explorer
Our collaborative approach to working with clients starts with the software itself. Our user group, which meets regularly throughout the year, feeds into the product roadmap ensuring any software updates are essential to today's facilities management function, rather than just being vanity updates. Many significant enhancements over the last few years have been user requested, and we accommodate these within the core product, rather than sell as software bolt-ons.
When it comes to working with clients, our consultative approach is absolutely key to the success of the end result. Starting with the sales process, through the implementation, delivery and go live phases, it is very much a partnership which relies on a successful relationship and a clear understanding of individual business needs and
drivers. This ensures we deliver CAFM Explorer in a way that ticks the client's key criteria, delivers results and maximises its use and potential at that organisation in both the short and long term.
During the process design phase, key stakeholders and project members on the client side work with our experienced team looking at the relevant business processes and how the software can support these, as well as supporting the customer through the change management process - which is integral to the future roadmap of the system at an organisation.
Beyond the software, it's also about the support and guidance available from the implementation team in areas over and above the product. During product execution, we encourage clients to promote a CAFM champion within their business. Strong project management on the supplier side is a necessity - taking small steps with a clear implementation journey and measurable success criteria at defined stages leads to a productive and successful product launch. Equally important at this stage is data, and engaging management in the structuring of this, to ensure the reporting (MI) outcomes are of value.
The complexity and breadth of modern facilities management often calls for wider service requests and delivery above and beyond the traditional CAFM offering. As part of the wider Idox Group, CAFM Explorer takes advantage of access to the multidisciplinary software portfolio available, including our complete document collaboration and management solutions, and asset tagging and RFID tracking solutions. Our work in the public sector delivering smart technology - from proven back-end software to front-end mobile apps with full integration between the two - gives us a head start on mobile helpdesk and reporting. Our support in health also enables us to deliver personalised QR code printing and adhere to GS1 standards.
In short, we have to offer more than just software. The approach needs to start and end with collaboration, and the product offering and knowledge has to stretch beyond the boundaries of just facilities management. Offering such holistic software and service management delivers the expertise and solutions sought after in any partner for any project in facilities management and beyond.
Greg Davies, Chief Operating Officer, Bellrock Group
Computer aided facilities management sounds like a dated concept. The technology has moved beyond computers per se, harnessing the internet to become an enabler rather than an aid to FM. A good CAFM system should be the integrator, data aggregator and facilitator for all things facilities management. It should be the ubiquitous tool used by clients, users, facilities managers and suppliers alike. All too often that is not the reality, not because of any inherent weakness in the technology, but because the consultation phase during implementation has been muddled.
The success, or otherwise, of the implementation and subsequent utilisation of any system is how thorough the analysis has been in defining what is important. The question of what the organisation is trying to achieve, be that reducing cost, enhancing safety or maintaining a highly effective and well-utilised environment, drives the operating model with which the CAFM platform aligns. The CAFM provider and FM team can then work closely together to identify the information points that will be required as an output for stakeholders, either in the form of reports or as raw data that can be manipulated in real time.
It is essential to establish the operating model, as it is integral to defining process workflows and building up exception planning criteria. These in turn define who will access information and manage tasks at any given time, as well as which processes can be automated as a result of integration. At this stage, the CAFM system has to be able to provide mobile applications as well as traditional web-based access, to support mobile working not just for the service suppliers, but also for clients who can approve orders or quotes, for example, while on the move.
As a result, the operating workflows are unified and will offer up the raw data for analysis. Often the source of the data is owned by other suppliers or departments servicing the FM function. Take security, for example. They may own the access control or visitor management system, yet once analysed this data may be essential in creating a more efficient cleaning schedule. Unlocking the paths to the data so that the CAFM system becomes the data aggregator of building and asset information requires an advanced data import engine or open API platform in order to integrate all interrelated information.
Take the example of a well-known coffee shop chain. At the moment, if a water outlet is not achieving temperature (critical to the operation of the business) once the job has been logged, the CAFM system is able, without human intervention, to assign the job to the mobile engineer, inform the client of the progress of the work, allow the supplier to close the job, and raise an invoice. This is CAFM best practice. In the future IoT (internet of things), using a sensor on the tap would self-report the fault, execute the resolution workflow, and the invoice would be automatically paid, based on predetermined rates and factoring in the time spent on site.
The possibilities to create a truly integrated system harnessing machine learning, artificial intelligence and IoT mean we will need to rebrand CAFM to reflect the value, not just in terms of efficiency. There is an opportunity to free facilities managers of process and operational management and focus on aligning the environment to business needs and exceptional customer experience.
Gary Watkins, CEO, Service Works Group (SWG)
The internet of things (IoT) and automation are no longer just buzzwords or a speck on the horizon. They are relevant now and demonstrate the growing role of technology in meeting modern demands. Fuelled by smartphones and high speed internet, FM end users are becoming ever more demanding, expecting immediate information and fast results. This is leading service providers to investigate new avenues in order to meet these demands, on typically narrow margins.
The current rate of change means knowledge is a commodity, and as such, there has never been a greater need to collaborate with clients in order to support new innovation. For example, we worked with our client Spotless - supplier of FM services to the Royal Adelaide Hospital - to achieve a high level of service automation.
Spotless implemented a best-of-breed technology solution including robotics and specialised software. However, managing separate systems would be inefficient and problematic, so we collaborated to enable seamless coordination through the centralised helpdesk of QFM (our CAFM software). Twenty-six systems are managed through QFM, allowing processes to function without human interaction, creating greater efficiencies. AGVs (automatic guided vehicles) can deliver fresh bed linen to patient rooms once the room has been identified as vacant. An alert is automatically sent to a housekeeper to prepare the room so time is not wasted waiting for linen, and rooms are made available more quickly. Where porterage has been replaced by an AGV, patients benefit from a more efficient discharge transportation service and personal care.
We have noticed a growing trend towards self-service, whereby end users can interact directly with a system rather than a person. This has become invaluable for younger generations accustomed to asserting control through a touch screen, but insightful design enables any user to understand the system's requirements at a glance. A leading car manufacturer required a solution for its new multi-million pound centre, which facilitates training for up to 200 delegates from across the UK on any given day. SWG developed new check-in functionality, allowing visitors to find their name and sign into the building securely. With several screens available, delegates are able to check-in more quickly without queuing to speak to a receptionist, reducing bottlenecks and the need for additional staff at peak times. The system also helped to improve health and safety, as occupancy reports can be produced at the touch of a button for security or fire safety reasons.
FM is still largely viewed as a cost rather than an efficiency builder across a whole organisation, but collaboration with CAFM providers is fuelling the innovation required to solve the industry's rapidly changing requirements. There is not just an opportunity for a more integrated partnership approach; CAFM vendors should reach out and take responsibility in order to help steer the industry and enable it to reach new levels of success.
Pushing the Envelope
Max Carruthers, Business Development Manager, FSI
The potential scope for a CAFM implementation has expanded exponentially over the past 10 years. We have seen major developments in software, integration with other management information systems, communications and networks, as well as the increasing sophistication of mobile devices such as the smartphone. These changes have not only driven the ambitions of CAFM providers to exploit new opportunities, but also the expectations of CAFM operators and enduser organisations - who want to see the envelope surrounding traditional hard and soft FM functionality pushed to bring benefits in increasingly diverse ways.
The data flowing through a CAFM implementation is, for most organisations, no longer simply limited to providing information to assist with building services maintenance and fabric upkeep. The combined effect of the latest systems, which have an extensive asset management role while also acting as a potential touchpoint (increasingly via FM apps) for employees, suppliers and so on, means that their scope can now have profound value at a strategic organisational level.
In dealing with premises (in terms of fabric and space), building services and operational assets, facility utilisation (room booking, car parking) and soft FM (catering, hygiene), CAFM data can deliver organisational insights that serve HR, finance, IT and planning as well as FM, and hence contribute significantly to overall corporate wellbeing. As such, scoping a new implementation, or reviewing and revising an existing one in the light of changing business circumstances or new management, is no small task.
CAFM system providers need to extend the boundaries of their skill sets to ensure their systems can be scoped in ways that are fit for purpose in the post-millennial environment. We have done this through a combination of internal recruitment and external partner alliances. We have addressed a number of areas, including the provision of business change analysis consultancy, creation of a development resource for FM apps, and delivery of relevant business intelligence to personnel outside, as well as inside, the FM bubble via intuitive, customised dashboards. We are also looking at developing space management functionality, improved building information modelling interfaces, and IoT capability.
The benefits of new, improved CAFM accrue to four main parties. FM in-house departments have at their disposal a means to elevate their status, demonstrate their effectiveness and importance to an organisation, burst out of their FM bubble and potentially earn themselves a position at the decision-making top-table. Outsourced system operators can offer a wide range of innovative services to potential clients with much opportunity for differentiation and the promise of exceptional customer experiences. End-user organisations gain a significant management information tool and new ways to directly engage with workplace communities, improving loyalty and overall corporate wellbeing. Finally, individuals working or interacting in other ways at sites where CAFM systems are deployed gain a sense of involvement and ownership of the premises they inhabit via literal hands-on, fingertip touch-screen empowerment.