Having remained more or less unchanged for decades, workplace and facility management are becoming a more central tenet of decision making for global organizations. Yet many businesses still lag behind when it comes to implementing the systems necessary to make the most of the FM’s role.

The problem: manual inefficiency in a digital age

Modern technologies allow us to digitize and automate numerous processes involved in the management of a building. While other areas of business have long since recognized the benefit of upgrading hardware and changing habits, facility management is too often overlooked.

Requests for interventions are still often taken by phone and logged manually on paper or in a rudimentary spreadsheet. Work orders and routines are similarly printed out or dictated, while breakdowns require an engineer to survey the area before fixing the problem.

This is not just a waste of the FM team’s time, but also a waste of the information they could be gathering. By centrally tracking assets, resources and operations, FMs can run far more efficient operations and reports.

What can seem like mundane realities of overseeing a property have a more direct impact on business performance than many people realize. Effective facility management can produce quantifiable improvements across a wide range of metrics.

CAFM improves productivity through central data

An important feature of a CAFM system is automated data collection in a central database. Without a CAFM, information is typically scattered across the organization. This leads to conflicting data, flawed reporting, and inconsistent and inefficient processes.

CAFM stores and structures this data and provides organizations with a ‘single source of truth’. FMs gain visibility into asset register, usage, and condition, and can make better decisions around asset maintenance or replacement. The software also supports more effective resource planning and allocation, yielding immediate hard benefits in productivity and headcount. Digital booking and automated alerts and reminders reduce man-hours for administration and improve the efficiency of field workers.

Proactive maintenance

Most maintenance without an effective CAFM system is carried out reactively (run to fail). CAFM software, however, enables proactive maintenance through asset tracking, inspections, and even sensor data. It also supports more effective communication between the facility team and technical service providers.

The ability for maintenance personnel to manage their work on the go using a mobile app significantly boosts productivity. Tracking activities in real time on a mobile device rather than logging them later also results in better data quality.

BIM integration allows for detailed 3D models to be viewed within the CAFM, showing dynamic information overlaid on the model. This allows for easy identification of problem areas and scoping out of local assets and obstructions without the need to survey the area onsite. Problems with systems can be detected early through data analysis and correlation with environmental factors, helping to address problems before they snowball into debilitating maintenance issues.

BIM integrated with CAFM

BIM integration allows for detailed 3D BIM models to be viewed within the CAFM

By tracking repair callouts and asset usage, maintenance intervals can be optimized. As well as saving time, the obvious impact of better maintenance is to increase asset longevity. Making smaller repairs as they are needed can reduce the need for wholesale replacement, while costs can be logged and measured. This helps to decide whether it would be more cost-efficient to replace an asset rather than keep fixing it.

Better insights into performance

Using a single platform to manage multiple streams of data opens up numerous possibilities for data analysis. The advent of big data and the introduction of IoT and other networked devices only compounds this. Live sensor data from rooms, check-ins and workstations provides a wealth of information which can not only be used to improve the working environment but also to inform C-level decision making.

Using big data in conjunction with machine learning allows CAFM systems to sort and parse data more intelligently, spotting trends that human observers might miss. As well as helping with the early identification of problems, the analysis of building data over time can predict future usage, optimizing resource usage ahead of time.

The centralization of all this data is incredibly useful. At present different departments (and even people within those departments) often use separate data sources, while contractors might have their own individual records. A good CAFM offers a single solution for all parties, tracking all changes and overwrites. This results in one authoritative and reliable source of information, making the process of reporting dramatically easier.

Process efficiency through automation

A well-integrated CAFM provides end-to-end process support, from service requests to creating work orders, planning and scheduling of resources, stock management, tracking of time and costs, to quality monitoring and compliance reporting. It enables you to manage facility stocks, for instance, with automated notifications and purchase requisitions ensuring that there is no overstocking or understocking. CAFM also monitors and reports on key performance indicators (KPIs) and SLA compliance for outsourced services.

This is not to say that the CAFM can be relied on to completely do people’s jobs for them. The benefits will only be felt if everyone buys into the experience of efficiency that automation carries with it. The best practices embedded in the software set the standard that end users will need to adopt and comply with.

Workplace productivity

CAFM can also improve workplace experience and employee retention. Room booking through web, mobile, Skype or touchscreen kiosks makes people waste less time looking for a meeting space.

CAFM and IoT

CAFM can integrate sensor data to improve building performance and workplace productivity

Interview candidates visiting a building that is visibly well organized will view the business more positively. As a result, they may be more inclined to take the job. Buttons to capture user feedback (Happy or not?) are visible ways to showcase that FM cares about employee satisfaction.

Costs

CAFM costs are composed of:

  • Licenses: purchase/rental/Software as a Service (SaaS) — a distinction can be made between expert users (FM team) and other users
  • Hardware: this cost can be avoided through hosted services/cloud solution (SaaS)
  • Implementation project: configuration, data loading, and training

You may also have to budget for integrating the software with systems from other departments or enterprise ERP. It is important to not just focus on immediate costs but to look at the cost of future changes too. Going for a heavily customized CAFM is bound to lead to concerns about obsolescence and costly upgrades. It is, therefore, advisable to choose a standard solution that you can configure to your needs. To be ready for future trends, it is key to select CAFM that can integrate with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Building Information Models (BIM).

Some elements of costing and ROI for CAFM are intangible. Soft qualitative improvements to the workplace environment such as comfort and improvement of facilities may improve efficiency and retention, but a hard correlation is difficult. Other factors such as reducing illness, and more efficient maintenance and cleaning routines will be more quantifiable.

Realistically, the way to sell ROI to your CFO is to focus on data-driven savings. An effective CAFM will improve efficiency for boots-on-the-ground tasks. It does this through delegation, the provision of useful data, and the speeding up of day-to-day administration.

Risks

A CAFM fundamentally changes the role of the FM and the way staff operates. Finding the right fit for your organization will help to mitigate risks and ensure a smooth period of implementation.

Software installations carry a reputation as being disruptive. There will inevitably be some testing and training. As well as the short-term hurdles involved in large scale deployment and uptake, you also have the longer-term impact of an unfamiliar system. It’s important to select a provider who can offer guidance through this process, ensuring that FMs get comfortable with process configuration and data analysis in CAFM.

Gartner names MCS a representative CAFM/IWMS vendor. Contact us if you would like to learn more.