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Productive reporting for informed decision making – The heart of FM software

Gary Watkins, director from Service Works Group

Gary Watkins, director from Service Works Group, explains how effective reporting from FM software can be utilised to support strategic decision making.

Facilities Management software is used to manage and consolidate data across all aspects of an FM operation. From the helpdesk to the performance of contractors, it provides essential insight for the facilities professional into how the workplace is being run and enables benchmarking across the property portfolio.

FM software reporting has developed exponentially in the past five years. Gone are the days when reports only came in textual format. Instead facilities professionals can now access their data in a variety of formats, bespoke to their needs. The look and feel of reports, once standardised, is now heavily influenced and personalised according to users’ individual requirements.

Accessibility has also advanced. In the past, FM reports took a retrospective view of a facility or portfolio’s performance and were available after the month end. But once PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contracts were introduced into the market, retrospective reporting was no longer adequate. If a FM service provider discovered after month end that it had been hit with deductions for non-performance, the potential financial consequences could be serious. Some of the FM software providers responded to the more challenging market demands by providing real-time data and transforming it into meaningful and actionable operational information, used to provide detailed visibility of important factors such as performance and compliance reporting.

The Power of Dashboards
Now, by constantly monitoring performance with live reporting on a dashboard, the user can adjust its service levels appropriately. Benefits of a dashboard can include:

  • Multiple dashboard views (both for the user and shared views) and customisable for different management levels, providing access to crucial management information in one single place
  • Provision of high level and deep drill analysis of data providing the capability to see the details behind the summary information if required
  • Visualisation of core systems statistics in a choice of formats including information such as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • A variety of pre-configured widgets and user definable widgets (i.e. drag and drop place holders displaying user-configurable graphical information such as a bar chart or graph)
  • The ability to define and visualize the output of user queries
  • Graphical information to monitor key events, providing information at a glance and supporting strategic decision making
  • Provision of context related information to different audiences

The demand for dashboards in FM is increasing because they provide Facilities Managers with graphical information that drives business decisions on a real-time basis.

More generally, FM software reporting is not just about analysing the performance of an FM service provider or a contractor, although contractor performance and monitoring of service level agreements is an essential aspect. It gives vital understanding on a number of other things, including:

  • Help desk performance
  • Planned preventative maintenance
  • Scheduled services
  • Cost control, budgeting and forecasting
  • Environmental monitoring such as utilities, recycling and emissions
  • Key performance indicators

Informed Decision Making
This type of specialist data enables facilities professionals to make informed decisions about FM strategy and direction. For example, should the data show that an asset such as a boiler or chiller regularly breaks down and requires reactive maintenance visits, then the facilities manager can consider whether he has the correct assets / spares for the job and whether additional capital investment is justified. He or she can then also assess the suitability of the asset’s preventative maintenance regime. This could be particularly pertinent across several sites with similar assets, where the reports generated by FM software can compare asset performance and ascertain which assets perform the best in which environments.

FM software reporting on space management can assist in the analysis of space utilisation across the whole of the organisation and can assist forecasting future space requirements and helping to decide on the best utilisation of resources at a reasonable cost. Reporting of space utilisation can be analysed by typical characteristics assigned to the various buildings. This could include cost allocations codes; location attributes, such as the type of space; staffing attributes, such as the number of full time or part time staff; and department and divisions.

FM software reporting on a property portfolio / estate basis also gives an additional perspective to the costs incurred across the organisation. Whether this is leasing, rent, insurance or service charges; reporting enables facilities managers to systematically monitor and maintain costs and charges.

FM software reports can also help to ensure optimum staffing levels for the help desk, and the ideal location of maintenance teams. By analysing the pattern of timing of calls to the helpdesk, the facilities manager can ensure the correct resources are available to answer calls and then deal with the reactive maintenance query. The nature and geographic location of calls can help to ascertain whether a mobile or static maintenance team is most suitable, and if static, where they should be based to ensure that the organisation is using its facilities team most effectively.

This type of FM data can help to reduce maintenance call-outs, thereby cutting both costs and carbon emissions. For example, the helpdesk operator receiving a reactive maintenance call for a specific site could pull off a quick report from the FM software application on the planned preventative maintenance regime for that facility. The decision could then be taken to combine a reactive maintenance visit with a PPM visit if appropriate.

FM software reports on an organisation’s room bookings can also analyse which types of meeting facilities are most popular, what times of day and days of the week are the busiest and which departments are using the rooms the most. This helps the FM team to ensure the meeting room provision is correct and supporting the business but not wasteful. It can also feed into any future plans for refurbishments or new build projects. Reports about departmental use also allow for accurate recharging. More importantly, data is also available for ‘no-shows’, a constant source of frustration for many facilities managers. The same type of reports can be downloaded for car parking use and hot desks, again providing the facilities managers with a detailed report on how the facility is being used and when.

Sustainability, including the use of energy / resources such as electricity, gas, water and waste are typically generated from readings taken either manually or automatically via meter or BMS (Building Management Systems) interfaces. This allows FM reporting to incorporate green costs / benefits with extensive environmental impact management reporting. Results should establish energy ratios, key performance indicators, variance and benchmarks. This will also provide information for on-going data collection and analysis for accurate performance reviews and a comprehensive energy management strategy.

Overall reporting from FM software transforms operational data into meaningful information which provides visibility of FM performance against KPIs, provides stakeholders with visibility of performance, drives process improvements, delivers financial control and long-term costs savings, supports environmental strategies and identifies trends and relationships to support future FM strategies. Intelligent use of business data from FM software provides a significant opportunity to make an organisation or an FM operation more proactive and efficient and thereby delivering enhanced levels of customer service.

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