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Opportunity knocks

The complexity and breadth of modern CAFM projects demands a much more integrated partnership approach to meeting client needs. We ask four CAFM vendors 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.

About Sarah OBeirne

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