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Operational advantage


Without data, decisions are just opinions. As FMs avoid the race to the bottom with increasing competition and high customer expectations, data-driven decision making can make the difference and deliver a significant operational advantage. Since the pandemic began sites have become more difficult to run due to social distancing, remote teams and potentially furloughed staff; data is the valuable resource to keep sites running. CAFM plays a key role in this, with improved reporting cited as its main benefit, just behind improved FM efficiency according to the FM Tech Survey from SWG in partnership with FMJ.

As CAFM evolves to keep pace with requirements, it’s easier than ever not only to capture the information but also analyse it. This can be done through customisable on-screen dashboards showing live data such as deadlines, costs and workload across the team, or downloaded to MS Excel or Power BI for further drill down and trend identification. And, FMs don’t need to be a whizz in these programmes as some CAFM vendors, like SWG, will create the templates so the user needs only select the date range or filters.

Integration of CAFM with other systems for data sharing is a common way to improve data accuracy and improve efficiency. Where respondents of the FM Tech Survey 2020 reported their CAFM saved them money, 83 per cent had integrated it with at least one other system. BMS integration is the most common, leading to automation of some common tasks. When the BMS identifies a problem, it can report it to the CAFM software which in turn will automatically create a work order and dispatch it to the most suitable operatives. This means a problem can be remedied before it causes the asset to break, costing less money and time than performing a full repair. It also means if there’s less resource for visual inspections, or even nobody on site during a lockdown, there’s less danger of damage going unnoticed and preventing the normal functioning of the site.

This increased data-led mentality has allowed BIM to grow in popularity. Without a CAFM system the data would be overwhelming and unusable, but specialist CAFM vendors will work with their clients to extract what’s relevant. This includes details of every asset and system installed, saving FMs hours in populating an asset register from scratch. This data can be combined with 2D / 3D BIM models as well as the existing data in the CAFM software to provide unparalleled insight into the whole site. From this FMs are able to gain accurate measurements of any area without a site visit, find out the materials used in the floors and walls, and even view hidden systems like wiring and HVAC to avoid damage during maintenance or renovation. On receiving a work order, the engineer can check the BIM model on their phone to see the asset’s location, be informed of any access restrictions like a required permit or an enclosed space, and also view asset data such as service history, warranty details, parts and serial numbers. This level of insight comes into its own in maintaining service during the pandemic, helping reduce travel and improving first time fix rates at a time when the FM team may be working with reduced capacity and under social distancing measures.

As businesses plan for lockdown easing and employees returning to work, many are looking to space management modules within CAFM software to plan social distancing, create shift patterns to reduce footfall, and manage cleaning. This goes beyond just visual layout planning and puts in place safeguards to help stem the spread of COVID-19. For example, CAFM can produce a list of employees who were working on a day when COVID symptoms were identified at the workplace, so they can be contacted and self-isolate pending negative test results. Cleaners can be notified to perform a deep clean of the area, which can also be scheduled after each shift-rotation to prevent cross-contamination.

Without data, these actions become much more challenging and arduous, and lead to a less safe and stable workplace. Decisions based on hard data are more compelling for senior management sign off, giving the team more leverage when it comes to doing what they know best.

About Sarah OBeirne

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