Over the years, structured intelligent data has played a key role in the progress of new developments, from conception and design to construction, and in a building’s lifecycle. And Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) has time and again proved to be the best platform positioned to deliver a multi-dimensional view of the 21st-century estate, building, and asset management.
A look at the three key influencers on the evolution of CAFM technology will show you the scale of the opportunity for developers, owners, and service providers to take ownership of the data that holds the key to a successful, dynamic FM strategy. As a result, there are now more informed constructors, developers and owners, who are waking up to the fact that a carefully chosen CAFM system, implemented at the beginning of a project or a relationship with a new FM provider – will give them the key to unlock the value of the data that will accumulate right from the start. While there has been integration between the buildings and the commissioning of services that allow them to be maintained and managed effectively and efficiently, experts believe that the scope of CAFM is still to be completely understood by its users. FM today speaks to experts in the industry to understand how the market has evolved with CAFM and how one must approach in selecting the right CAFM system for themselves.
Lack of Awareness?
Core CAFM requirements in the region remain as the capability to handle hard and soft reactive requests through a helpdesk and planned maintenance regimes against MEP assets. Many organization simply consider the basic elements of these functions when implementing CAFM and forget to contemplate the evolution of their businesses in the medium and longer term. A mature CAFM solution will offer flexibility in terms of data structures and proven features which is often not obvious in the first instance but which will provide significant benefits in time.
So the question remains, whether end-users are utilizing CAFM to its full capacity or is there still a lack of awareness? According to Adrian Jarvis, General Manager, FSI Middle East, there is a lack of awareness in many organizations about what functionality CAFM can offer and its potential benefits to their business. “There is still a “tick the box” approach by many when selecting a solution and unless there is a proper consideration of their business requirements the potential to miss an essential feature is high. With some systems, what you see is what you get others allow your CAFM strategy to evolve as your business evolves. That being said, a lack of quality data is probably one of the biggest factors that negatively impact any CAFM solution. Carefully considering the coding of asset and structures in CAFM is important and is often not fully considered,” says Jarvis.
Imran Akram, Director of fm24, Macro’s own CAFM and helpdesk service, says that a lot depends on the organization itself. “I would say that there is a lack of adoption in terms of making greater use of CAFM. The reasons behind this are either a lack of time or financial investment. This is unfortunate as the pay-off if the CAFM set-up is done correctly is significant,” says Akram.
While Javier Mora, COO Middle East, Rosmiman Software Corporation, believes that the key to greater awareness is to present a user-friendly environment and fully flexible solution to provide the end-users the functionalities that are really necessary. “When it comes to company workers, the possibility to create multiple user profiles, assures an easy way to take advantage of those functionalities directly related to their roles or positions in the company. Regarding technicians and subcontractors, we can provide specific web portals and apps. Moreover, similar solutions are available to interact with tenants, citizens, municipalities, etc.,” he adds.
Selecting the right CAFM system
CAFM systems today have evolved to a great extent and can do many things that one couldn’t have thought of before. In recent years cloud hosting, BIM to CAFM integration and a rapid increase in the use of mobility by the workforce with tailored apps on smartphones and tablets devices have been trends. Mobility is now extending to provide apps, integrated with CAFM and IoT (Internet of Things)/sensors, for use by all stakeholders in a facility including the executives, customers, suppliers and the workforce to drive measurable and sustainable facilities services. Hence, it’s very important to choose the right CAFM system for your organization. Jarvis says that when it comes to picking the right system one must consider the capability and experience of the CAFM vendor in terms of the technology they offer and their knowledge of facilities management plus their ability to provide complete service delivery to your organization. “First identify your in-house requirements and processes, understand what you need from the technology in the short, medium and long term and look for a vendor and system that will be able to move with you as your requirements and processes change.
Consider how you will manage the technology in your business going forward and whether an inhouse on-premise or cloud hosted solution is the right choice for your business,” adds Jarvis. Nowadays the market offers a huge number of CAFM solutions, making it difficult for customers to choose. Mora too agrees with the fact that a CAFM solution must cover the company functionalities, “But with enough flexibility to not to penalize the customer’s pockets with unnecessary ones and at the same time, capable of including new modules and functionalities in the future,” he adds.
Akram, on the other hand, feels that there should be an assessment workshop, and this is not just with the FM operational teams. “For example, if there is a need to integrate the CAFM system with the organization’s finance system, then it is highly likely that both the finance and IT departments will need to be involved. Following this, a CAFM functionality document is produced and this forms part of the RFP during the procurement process,” says Akram.
The adoption of technology in all forms in the Middle East facilities management market space continues to evolve as the industry itself evolves within the region. FSI Middle East has seen a marked increase in the take-up and use of mobile technology, both for mobilization of services as a data collection tool and for recoding of service delivery by the workforce. Tailored applications being key to the success of these mobile solutions. Mora observes that mobility, cloud-based system and system integration have been some of the trends in the Middle East nowadays. ‘Rosmiman Smart Mobility’ provides both real savings and measurable benefits with low investment and fast ROI for organizations that decide to incorporate these technologies into their processes and provide them to their users.
Akram says that it is becoming common for end-users or customers in this region to interface with the CAFM system, where they are able to log requests through a portal and monitor the progress. Greater functionality is being added to such portals such as making online payments against a specific activity logged. “By having a CAFM system set-up and managed correctly, you have a powerful business tool. It is, therefore, critical that the investment (both the resource and the financial one) is committed not just to the initial start-up, but that it’s also ongoing,” concludes Akram.