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CAFM considerations

VAL HENRY
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, FSI

The FM industry is evolving at speed, and providers need the tools to keep up. Relying on paper, spreadsheets, job cards and other outmoded forms of data collection no longer suffice – in today’s technologically-driven world, access to a CAFM solution is fast becoming essential.

While numerous organisations remain hesitant to bring this technology on board, whether that is due to costs, concerns over integration, or simple resistance to embracing change, every year more and more FM providers are reaping the benefits of CAFM solutions.

However, not all CAFM systems are created equal. So, what should potential buyers be aware of?

Investing in an effective CAFM system and applying it correctly presents many advantages to FM teams, including:

  • Reduced downtime
  • Better control over data
  • Higher productivity
  • Happier employees
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Greater savings over time.

But those considering this software should be discerning when determining the right system for them. First, you should leave a good period of time to research, purchase and implement the system. A year (or at least six months for smaller departments) will give you time to ensure you locate and install a system that meets your needs.

It’s important to know what to look for in a quality CAFM solution (and supplier). This will vary from team to team, but in most cases you’ll want to consider the following:

Ease of integration. Will the system easily integrate with others in your facilities? Your CAFM solution should comprehensively cover your FM responsibilities and link seamlessly with your invoicing, purchasing, financing and other software.

Access to apps. As FM becomes increasingly mobile, an effective CAFM solution should provide access to a variety of apps designed to streamline workflow, manage maintenance tasks and support employee wellbeing on the go.

Agile systems. As technology and facilities continue to evolve at pace, having a CAFM system that can easily bolt-on additional modules is crucial to ensuring your software is always up to date and never static.

Industry experience. Does your supplier have experience within your industry? Ideally, they will have tangible examples of how their solution has benefited others in your position to give you reassurance.

Responsiveness to feedback. Your supplier should recognise the value of listening and reacting to client insight. This ensures future developments stay in line with the shifting needs of the industry.

Support network. Your supplier should be capable at handling the installation and integration of your system, and readily available when you require support.

Forward-thinking supplier. Does the vendor have a department focused on mind-mapping current and upcoming innovations like IoT and smart buildings? A forward-thinking supplier will be dedicated to constantly growing their system in accordance with industry standards.

Demonstrable ROI. Make sure your supplier can demonstrate an acceptable return on investment. This will help to make the business and financial case for investing in CAFM.

In the coming years, expect to see a more future-focused approach to procurement. Currently, buyers tend to prioritise a system that covers the core needs of reactive and planned maintenance, then return to their provider to further expand this with software and applications associated with wellbeing, space management, smart buildings and
so on.

With the growing realisation of CAFM’s potential as a true enterprise system, introducing more all-encompassing solutions from the outset should be prioritised moving forward.

OLIVER SPIRES
PRODUCT SPECIALIST, IDOX (CAFM EXPLORER)

Facilities management is an operational business, with compliance and service delivery being two key drivers prompting companies to invest in a CAFM system. When researching the right product, one of the most important considerations comes down to cost – yet companies should look far deeper than this. Making sure you choose a system that offers value for money means looking beyond initial purchase cost.

CAFM packages can vary significantly, so it’s essential to really scrutinise the long-term cost of the product – not just the initial outlay. For example, is there a charge for additional modules? What about upgrades? Are there limits on data storage before you incur charges? Ideally, look for providers who don’t charge extra to scale the product, and ensure there are no hidden licence or implementation costs.

Configurability should also be considered; any costs saved during purchase will be quickly negated if teams have to spend a significant amount of time customising it themselves. Find out if the time to configure is included in the initial purchase cost; will vendor support be provided to tailor the product to your organisational needs?

Essentially, a great CAFM system is one that can evolve seamlessly in line with the needs of the company. The financial implications of this should be explored thoroughly during selection. The benefits of implementing the right CAFM solution are huge – but so are the costs of implementing the wrong one.

Investment in technology can feel like a leap into the unknown. That’s why it’s crucial to surround yourself with good people, who are experienced and have a long track record in deploying CAFM systems.

Ideally you should partner with a vendor who can help you take a proactive approach to facilities management. Therefore, once you’ve looked into the actual product, look into the company providing it. There’s nothing more valuable than experience and reputation – find a partner who has the knowledge to help you achieve your FM goals, and can offer support and guidance whenever you need it.

Versatility is king
Facilities management is extremely diverse – every estate is different, with contrasting challenges and needs. Therefore, versatility is king. That’s versatility in the product itself – its ability to be moulded and fit in with your current systems – and versatility in the provider, by having sufficient cross-sector experience to offer the right support at the right time. Look for providers who have a broad track record across sectors, as this usually indicates that their product can flex easily to suit a wide variety of industries.

A collaborative relationship between provider and customer leads to better outcomes. Your voice should always be important, so it’s wise to ask prospective CAFM companies about ongoing product development and whether this is informed by actual customer feedback. Finding a provider that hosts regular user groups or forums can be a real asset, and shows a genuine commitment to collaboration.

While features like a reliable helpdesk and reporting functionality are crucial, so too is the ability to access these out in the field. Finding out how well the product works remotely is essential, even if you don’t intend to launch mobile working straight away.

Being able to grant access to key personnel such as contractors means they can manage their own workload, report back on completed tasks and work far more efficiently. Keeping business moving is vital if companies are to achieve their financial and productivity targets – and the right CAFM system can be pivotal in realising these goals by mobilising your workforce.

About Sarah OBeirne

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