Cost savings and efficiency gains from facilities management – Software considerations (Part 1 of 3)
In this series of articles, we will be reviewing the significance and changes that technology disruption offers the Facilities Management (FM) industry. We will begin with software solutions for effective tracking of portfolios and assets, further advancing to “BIM” – an interactive 3-D model-based process that gives insight and tools to efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and in part 3, we will review a new type of software developed for managing FM requirements within an organisation, epitomized by ” FM Navigate”, a new breed of Enterprise Resource Planning software that serves as a client-based system that considers facility management holistically as a value-based support service to the organisation.
The facility management sector has emerged from a resource-based task orientated service to a fundamental support service that empowers the businesses. This involves keeping up with the demands of increasingly diverse portfolios, advancements in multiple sites, optimising the occupancy of space by larger - scattered teams in the workplace along with other diverse administrative functions. The roles, responsibilities and engagement of the facility management industry has become more complex and vital.
Businesses expect a greater return on the investment from their assets where efficiencies and optimisations need to be demonstrated. The traditional aspects of the buildings and infrastructure also need to be effectively managed through concurrent inspections, maintenance and repairs. Now, along with taking care of the 'core' activities that are driven by strategic tasks adding value to the customer-supplier relationships, 'softer elements' or 'non-core activities' like space allocation, asset monitoring, booking schedules etc. should also be covered.
So, as the prerequisites and sub-processes are becoming intertwined for the successful continuation of business and commerce, the roles of facility managers become more complex and eminent. Now, the focus has to be repurposed from taking care of day-to-day inspection, maintenance and repair tasks so that the focus is on the bigger picture, providing the clients with leading-edge solutions that helps them to proliferate in the growing market.
This clearly demonstrated how much benefit is gained from a tool that collects and analyses data.
Implementing a technology tool is one of the fastest ways to reduce facility management spending. Simply moving from an error-prone, inefficient pen-and-paper system to a digitized and automated platform decreases the time and resources that must be dedicated to working order management, allowing teams to instead focus on forward-thinking and preventive measures. Plus, access to advanced analytics makes it easy to pinpoint patterns of overspend and core areas of improvement so that these can be quickly addressed and reversed.
Preventive maintenance can create cost savings and efficiencies by reducing the number of breakdowns and emergency repairs that business experiences each year, while also preventing warranty leakage and unnecessary equipment replacements. With an automated preventive maintenance schedule in place, assets will last longer, and overall maintenance spending can be accurately controlled.
Having discussed FMS and its sophisticated yet robust features, let’s consider what the industry offers from a traditional manual approach to a technology driven opportunity to capture, administer and report on relevant data in a digital format.
Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM)
CAFM systems offer features that simplify tasks, optimise workflows, eases building management tasks and ensure that the building and user-information are available as a single-source-of-truth.
Referencing to the definition of facility management, contributing to the efficient interaction of people, processes and places from an optimisation perspective. This type of technology solution combines business administration, behavioural science, architecture and engineering concepts to optimise the functioning of the organisation. It is a comprehensive commercial facility with many different facets and functions that focuses on the simplification of maintenance and repair processes.
The utilization of Real-time data to promote comprehensive maintenance
The real-time data is utilised to promote comprehensive maintenance. Real-time data collection can help facility managers to engage in preventive maintenance and proactively address any sudden fault detection in the system. Work orders can be effectively monitored and required regulatory strategies can be employed. The routine operational maintenance will be monitored, reported and communicated via digital means. Continuous data collection will facilitate prompt fault resolution without much workforce concentration at a particular task.
All of this effectively contributes to effective asset management, as the allocation of the resources at the required site will have a smarter and intelligent approach.
Physical building administration
One of the most impressive features of CAFM systems is the feature for handling the actual infrastructure inside a facility.
The utilization of CAD (Computer-aided design) elements and visuals allows us to create interactive building designs that help to previsualize the setup. It helps in effective space management inside the building and optimized resource allocation beforehand. This is eminently useful for real-estate organisations as they can present the interactive plans to customers and allow potential buyers to walk through the home that is not even built yet.
CAFM isn’t entirely focused on physical facilities and assets. Such technology platforms offer a range of administrative support capabilities that can also help streamline resources.
CAFM even be used to manage human resources services and can act as a resource-allocation check system to ensure that people required in the facility are present. In addition to functioning as a human resource allocation check system, when deployed at the essential locations, this can be a bonus of increased security for the organisation without additional costs.
Since CAFM platforms cover not only the building but everything in it, administrators can use it as a roadmap for all kinds of asset management, predictive planning and meeting long-term needs, for example, planning for capital improvements. This helps to effectively cut down costs without compromising the quality and makes the facility operations happen more efficiently.
Concept Evolution - A CAFM based Facility Management Software solution
Concept Evolution from FSI (FM Solutions) is a cloud-based facilities management solution. The core functionality includes maintenance management, asset management, capital program management, lease administration and portfolio management. The solution is designed to cater to the needs of a single user as well as large multinational companies.
How facility management was transformed by CAFM?
Before CAFM, Facility Management as a profession and industry was underdeveloped in terms of its use in generating cost savings and cost reduction initiatives CAFM was the first platform to empower decision-makers to tap into the savings potential of their facilities using data. The integration with AutoCAD was key to enabling this, using imagery to make data management a user-friendly experience.
No doubt, CAFM was the first software focusing exclusively on handling facility management requests but significant and innovative improvements are lacking. Despite improvements, ‘legacy CAFMs which have developed significantly over the last 20 years can now appear to be inflexible and limited for use in the post-COVID era.
New generations of FM data driven technology solutions have been introduced, backed by 3-D modelling, cloud storage and agile features to help you steal the march on your competitors in the FM space.
Advancements in Software deployment
Software deployment has a significant impact on the organisation implementing it, if not necessarily on the eventual end-user.
On-premise software is hosted by hardware on your premises. This hardware usually requires an extensive IT team to maintain and troubleshoot, as well as the physical space to store it. On-premise also offers more options for customization, as you have almost complete control over the program. Essential staff should be extensively handling and monitoring the system regularly. Proactive fault detections and preventive strategies are absent in this case.
Cloud-based deployment is typically agile and can be a lower cost solution than on-premise, as the associated costs will invariably be cheaper than legacy on-premise systems. Customisation of a web-based system can however become costly as the value is derived from the standard product. Web-based solutions are also agile and accessible from any user portal with an internet connection, making it a lightweight and practical solution for many companies. Because the onus of data security falls on the vendor for this deployment method, most offer some of the most comprehensive security options on the market for their customers’ data. This is more accepted and user-friendly due to the absence of all hefty specially-dedicated physical systems - You just need a good internet connection and a machine to work on – anytime, anywhere.
Hybrid is, as the name suggests, a combination of the two formats. This can take many different forms and is unique to different industries. It usually includes the ability to switch from on-premise to cloud-based as the users’ needs change.
Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) - The advanced CAFM
CAFM and IWMS solutions are essentially the same but positioned at different stages in the evolution of facilities management, with IWMS being the more advanced technology that is more current than CAFM in the workplace today. IWMS can be thought of as enhanced CAFM.
IWMS is a software that is institution-specific e.g. hospitals, universities, businesses and governments all need different things from their facilities and an IWMS platform enables each to create strategies unique to their own needs. If you are managing an agile environment and need data spanning multiple locations or an entire real estate portfolio, IWMS is the way to go. This is a platform that optimizes facilities in accordance with their greater purpose whether it is related to security, compliance, productivity, wellness, sustainability or all of them.
Along with the incorporation of CAD drawings in a facilities management database, as in CAFM software, IWMS take matters a step further by integrating with increased levels of data, systems, technologies, and a deeper workflow framework that makes IWMS a more useful communication platform for all stakeholders.
Difference between CAFM and IWMS
Whereas CAFM focused more on an actionable approach - optimizing maintenance, operations, and space planning, IWMS software offers expanded deployable resources - simply reducing costs to also enhancing productivity by optimizing facilities around the missions that they support. IWMS solutions accomplish this in three primary ways.
Integration with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, IoT sensors and other systems means deeper and more detailed data on everything. Integration with more advanced technologies like 3D BIM and GIS means a more sophisticated visual interface. Organisations can link automated systems to real-time data, providing previously impossible benefits.
IWMS tools funnel all data into performance metrics in the form of performance dashboards, so that managers can easily generate reports, track trends, investigate workflow, measure results of initiatives, and simulate different scenarios.
An agile workflow framework allows organisations to define user roles for every level of their organisation, controlling security access while connecting even contractors in the field with mobile apps and cloud systems.
Research from Research & Markets states that the deployment of an IWMS solution leads to a reduction in facility maintenance costs of 14%, an improvement in workspace management by up to 40% and an increase in facility usage efficiency of 42% (Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) Marketplace: IWMS Platforms, Software, and Solutions Market Outlook and Forecasts 2018 – 2023, 2018).
Planon - A IWMS based Facility Management Software solution
Planon is a global software provider that helps to building owners and occupiers, commercial service providers, and financial controllers to streamline business processes for buildings, people and workplaces. Planon is an integrated (IWMS) software that helps national and multinational real estate owners and occupiers to optimise workplace performance by simplifying business processes and reducing costs during every phase of the real estate lifecycle. IWMS system specifically helps service providers to create operating efficiency, increase customer value, and enables business innovation through radical process automation, seamless system integration and analytics.
The Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) System
The difference between CMMS and other software solutions can be easily understood based on needs. “It is software that centralises maintenance information and facilitates the processes of maintenance operations and are unique to industries where physical infrastructure is critical. It helps optimize the utilization and availability of physical equipment like vehicles, machinery, communications, plant infrastructures and other assets.” - IBM
It is a component of CAFM that is entirely focused on handling the facility needs of a facility and who manages them. This solution is quite specific to the needs - when only maintenance outputs are important, CMMS is the way to go. The core of CMMS is the database. It has a data model that keeps the availability of assets and maintenance organisation in sync. It holds and organises the information about the assets and the maintenance organisation is responsible for maintaining the equipment, materials and other resources to do so.
Making the correct choice - IWMS vs CMMS
The singular focus of CMMS is on managing maintenance. When, other aspects of facilities management are less relevant, choosing CMMS makes it a good investment for an organisation. IWMS will however roll in the maintenance requests alongside other aspects of facilities management. It allows facilities managers to more efficiently oversee maintenance and can also shed light on common problems and the associated costs to fix them.
For example, if your role as facility manager involves fielding employee support tickets and passing them on to maintenance and other departments, IWMS is a good option. But, if support tickets are submitted directly to maintenance or an office manager, a CMMS would suffice.
IBM Maximo - A CMMS based Facility Management Software solution
IBM’s Maximo is an enterprise asset management software that has comprehensive CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) capabilities. The maintenance app is best suited to manage complex maintenance management requirements within asset-intensive industries. Its top users are from the utilities, Oil and gas, nuclear Power, Transportation, Aviation and Life Sciences industries. It handles everything from line maintenance to complex assembly maintenance.
Use case demands dictate software support
CAFM offers numerous benefits for forward-thinking organisations utilising them. The efficiencies enabled by these programs is invaluable and is vital to progress in the competitive market. Identifying needs and pairing them with the right software will position you accordingly to make a smart investment. Few companies deploy multiple software strategies for optimization whereas some intelligently exploit one and get ahead of the curve.
You can also consider the type of system that may be nest for your organisation within a Plan-Do-Check-Act decision process to ensure alignment with the support required for the core business.
The planning stages are critical as many organisations end up paying for a higher percentage of system functionality than is sometimes necessary and what is actually used.
Either way, in 2021 and more so in the post-COVID era, the technology solutions referenced in this paper will be invaluable in shaping your current and future facility management requirements in the most cost effective and optimised way possible.