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FM Technology Users Forum
World Workplace '02
Facilitators: Peter S. Kimmel and Rod Stevens

Summary

On October 7, 2002, the FM Technology Users Forum met at IFMA's World Workplace show in Toronto to discuss recent developments in using automated systems for facilities management. The session was moderated by Peter Kimmel, IFMA Fellow (FMLink, Bethesda, MD) and Rod Stevens, CFM, IFMA Fellow (Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Des Moines, IA).

The participants were comprised mostly of facilities managers; there also were designers and architects, and CAFM vendors and consultants. The participants were divided into three groups, and focused on several topics:

  • How off-the-shelf FM software (including ASP) is being applied successfully, including realized cost-related benefits (most of this discussion focused on space management and planning, strategic facilities management, and maintenance and operations);

  • How corporate intranets and extranets are being used for FM and for sharing FM and corporate information, as well as for project management; and

  • Implementation issues.
At the end of the session, a member of each group presented the group's findings to the other groups. This Web page is a summary of what each group reported. The comments are intended primarily to give people an idea of the variety of ways systems are being used; of course, each situation is different, and what works well for some may not necessarily work well for others.

Ability to Continuing the Discussions after World Workplace…

The participants were informed that the FM Forum discussion group on the Net, at www.fmforum.org, would be an ideal place to continue their discussions about any of these topics. Anyone interested in this should go to the FM Forum Web site and either participate in someone else's discussion, or start a new discussion. So, please continue your discussions on FM Forum!

Appreciation

Special appreciation is offered to the three group leaders, who took the time to compile each group's findings:

Robb Dods, Information Manager, Project Management Operations Centre, ProFac Facilities Management Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
rdods@profac-group.com

Ted Eedson, Senior Asset and Facility Management Program Officer, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Real Property Services Branch, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Ted.Eedson@pwgsc.gc.ca

Laura Ramirez, Facilities Director, Omaha Steaks, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
LauraR@omahasteaks.com

This Web page was compiled by FMLink, based on the notes submitted by the group leaders. Should there be any changes required, based on what transpired at the FM Technology Users Forum, please e-mail them to peterk@fmlink.com, and they will be made.

To see more about FMLink, the largest information resource on the Net for FMs, just go to the FMLink Home Page at www.fmlink.com. Free registration may be required to see some of the pages.

Sessions from Previous World Workplace Conferences

The following are links to pages with write-up from this session at previous World Workplace Conferences:

http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2010.html
http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2008.html
http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2007.html
http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2006.html
http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2005.html
http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2004.htm
http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2003.htm
http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2000.htm

Group 1

Topics: Intranets and Extranets, Project Management, Implementation Issues

Notes submitted by Robb Dods, ProFac Facilities Management Services Inc.

  • Extranetnews.com is a source for information for extranet users. If you or your company provides a Web site for internal or client use, this may be a source for ideas or solving problems others have encountered.

  • Discussion issue about working live over the Internet—publishing documents to Web sites can be too slow and can vary significantly due to traffic, size of documents, fire walls, etc. Some Web sites only manage documents for information sharing, but if you want users to actually work "live" over the Internet in their daily activities, speed is of the essence (you don't have the time/patience to wait while documents are being published to one part of a Website, then have to move to another part and publish again, and again, and again).

  • Extranet users have a technology issue—how to speed up the timing? Both data and document publishing must be seamless, simple, and fast to work live.

  • I.T. does not necessarily know how the business unit(s) is going to push the I.T. system or the business applications (the users don't know until they are really using an application just how far they will take it). Experience shows that users find other uses for tools, tables or arrangements within an application. What makes sense to the user isn't usually anticipated by the developer. Often the developer doesn't have the practical experience to truly understand how a tool is going to be used. They interpret from a source that is focused on a particular function, but the "what if" scenarios don't really come up until someone starts using it fully and says "If it can do this, why can't it do that?"

  • User groups for sharing outcomes in the previous paragraph are/would be helpful, but many users are not familiar with the idea of "user groups" or what benefits would come by participating in such teams.

  • ASPs (Application Service Providers) can help speed the process by hosting sites so data only might be passing to a database. If you have a business requirement that collects data and reports from the database only, this could work. But there is usually more involved in many cases that require customized reporting or document management and using an ASP requires on-going costs. Yes, the costs are off-set by not having to have the expertise in-house, but management only pays attention to the fact that every time they want a change they have to pay more "real" money rather than the perceived hidden cost of having someone in-house that can customize or make changes. Therefore, what ASPs offer in hosting a site need to include the ability for the clients to make basic, autonomous changes to their database tools without having to pay the ASP for such changes. Providing a "Builder" tool that the client can use to open their site would solve this.

  • I.T. solution usually means they'll do anything if the dollars are made available . They offer this, but usually don't have the necessary in-house talent to meet your specific needs. So they'll out-task the project, then the expertise leaves when the project is done and you're left high-and-dry for future changes or development. If I.T. has the internal talent, you're often faced with the cost of allocating their resources, rather than helping the business unit source the right off-the-shelf product.

  • Internal processes have to be in place when using the Intranet between departments and users on LANs and WANs . If no one is controlling a shared drive for standards in folder-naming or ordering, the drive quickly becomes a mess, a confusion of files with different owners, similar names, meaning different things to others. Standards, rules, and procedures must be in place, with one source (individual or a trained team) who will "police" the use of the shared drive. For instance: there shouldn't be personal folders on a shared drive; the purpose of the drive is for business (of course, everyone should have a personal folder on the server for back-up rather than relying on their desktop hard drive).

  • Multiple publishers to Extranet could cause liabilities regarding ownership of shared information; e.g.,. who owns the published drawing if it is certified (stamped) by an Architect, then altered by others? The applications usually allow control of the published documents. Security is OK on an Extranet - the controls are in place. One person would be the owner. But what another does with a copy of the document is the issue. Taking a copy, altering it, and putting it forward or implementing it under a new ownership is a real question, regarding copyright, liability for the original owner (as in a drawing that is altered by another), etc. Password control, etc. may offer ways to address these sorts of concerns when giving public access to electronic documentation.
  • Company info should stay in-house—this raises a concern in using ASPs—in Europe ASPs are not generally accepted because companies don't want their proprietary data outside of their control. Even with confidentiality agreements in the contract with the ASP, who knows what data can "leak" out to be used for anyone's purpose?

  • We (the business providers) want to move to using the Internet technology as a simple, single source of exchanging information and getting our clients' orders or requests on-line. However, our customers still want to stay with the phone—so that help or contact is just a phone call away (who wants to do a lot of typing if you can just leave a message). The effectiveness of an extranet would be in convenience, not trying to use it to replace the personal contact. The Webtool is an alternate source, allowing those comfortable in using the Net to do so. To force any customers into the use of a particular technology when they are uncomfortable with the tool only leads to frustration and become reasons for the customer to be dissatisfied with your service.

Group 2

Topics: Space Management, Area Measurement, CAFM Tools, Implementation Issues

Notes submitted by Ted Eedson, Public Works and Government Services Canada

Through our round-the-circle introductions it was evident that the group was divided into those who were interested in capturing spatial information for the management of inventory and facilities management activities and those interested in area information for programming space use. The space use group included interest as varied as programming classrooms against educational program needs to sales and allocation of seating for theatrical productions. Those interested in facilities management support tools varied from delegates just starting an implementation, to users and consultants who could offer advice based on personal lessons learned and talk about the challenges facing the industry in attempts to make our information more accurate and accessible.

Our discussion showed that CAFM systems today will support a variety of business needs but most of us have had difficulty in controlling the technology and/or data sets to best suite our requirements. Several delegates indicated the number one hurdle to success has been implementation of systems without first clearly established business needs to guide the collection of information so that the data can be manipulated at a later date to provide information for decisions.

Before selecting a technology, one needs to describe and understand business needs. If the technology application exists, step back and review the business needs to ensure the data set being managed is really the information required to meet the business goals. When starting an implementation or reviewing a current operation be aware that information holdings must be managed at a level that can be easily maintained. Too often, implementation gets side-tracked with enhancements that are good but do not support the fundamental business process. These sidelines can undermine the original goals and eventually the credibility of the operation. While ensuring that the information datasets meet the business needs, be open to expanding the operation once the business goals have been met or exceeded. Realize, however, each enhancement will increase the complexity and maintenance requirements and must be supported by a sustainable business need.

The success or failure of most CAFM installations depends on personnel, their training and maintenance costs. Too often, technology is approved based solely on a return-on-investment decision. Key additional ingredients to success are ensuring that personnel gain value from the information tool as well as providing an intuitive tool that will assist them in their job. While training is essential, an intuitive tool with useful help and process models will allow the implementation to go further faster. Data will not refresh itself. If staff use the information in their daily routines, the maintenance of the data will become automatic. If data in the system are not used, the cost of maintaining that information will become a burden over time.

Some participants felt that the development of software has become too complex for the beginner or those requiring simple functions to allow them to walk before they run. Customized solutions were felt not to be the answer. The better approach today is to invest in a highly configurable solution - a solution that will allow one to show return on investment with simple information support tools, yet provide the opportunity for growth into a complex enterprise-wide facilities management support system. Interoperability of data and Web-enabled input and reporting tools are becoming essential to the larger installations.

With any approach remember three simple rules:

  1. Capture the information once;
  2. Capture it at source; and
  3. Share it will everyone.
If information is not accessible it is usually duplicated and thus the data quality issues begin. Ensuring that data is captured at source, and that stewardship of that data begins at the same location will provide the foundation for good information. If the information is of value to the data steward, then this person will have a good reason to keep the data current.

The end goal is for everyone to have access to current data. Information holdings must be based on the business, be guided by policies, procedures and standards, and have value to the data steward to ensure it is up-to-date for use by others.

Buckets of information are not useful. A successful CAFM implementation will be intuitive to use, be based on a business need, and provide value to each user along the information chain.

An excellent start to any system implementation is to explore and validate the business process being automated to ensure that information handling also is automated to take advantage of the data manipulation tools provided.

The group did not get into CAFM applications as much as it discussed the need for good data. The industry has developed support tools rapidly and is now realizing that to best utilize information it must be interoperable between technologies. The data set must be able to be moved as systems are upgraded or exchanged for other systems. Data flow between stakeholders and consultants needs to be seamless. We must embrace the three basic concepts of capturing data once, at source and shared with everyone to see the true value of automation. In order to do this, data must flow between technologies and users. This is the largest challenge facing our industry. If we all used one application that did not allow for customization, we could solve this dilemma, but that is not democracy, nor is it the way to creativity. Today, we are realizing the need to share, and are challenged to rebuild our operations while we continue to deliver service to our clients.

Group 3

Topics: Maintenance and Operations, Work Management, Implementation Issues

Notes submitted by Laura Ramirez, Omaha Steaks

The purpose of our group was to discuss maintenance software packages, emphasizing implementation. Most of the group members currently use Maximo or MP2. A few participants were looking for a package; some were trying to find ways to utilize theirs more effectively; and others were looking at newer technology in conjunction with their system.

We discussed how type and size of systems vary from company to company. Many of the features are not used by some companies, while other companies use every feature. There are basically two types (and priced accordingly): seat-based, and based on size of your system as defined by how much and what information is to be stored, which in-turn defines the hardware requirements. The majority of the group indicated that you should buy what is needed and what will fit your particular company. Some packages have more levels/options than what you may need or use.

New system users should select and train one or two system administrators to enter all data into the system to assure consistency of the data going in. Managing the data base is critical to maintaining the integrity of the system over time. Having technicians opening and closing work orders will cause problems in the database over time. It is also very costly to have techs inputting data. Having the ability to convert an existing database to a new system is very important. It can save a lot of cost on the conversion. In the selection process be sure that the selected system has the capability to use a standard application to upload data (Excel, Access, etc.).

New users should be assured that the new system has standard reports that meet your reporting criteria. Development of custom reports can be very costly after the initial installation. Begin with the end in mind when building the system. Know what you will want out of the system (reporting on data collected); going back is difficult and costly.

Union workers may fight this technology. It is imperative to discuss the importance of the information to be gathered from the system; for example, ways that this technology could improve the company's overall productivity. Training is an important key.

When looking for a package, it is recommended to include all departments (IT,HR, maintenance, management) top-to-bottom in the selection and implementation. If everyone buys into the system, you will have better luck with the implementation and use of the system. One group needs to take ownership for the system to be effective.

Set the criteria for your particular use of the system (ease of use, automation, accountability, system administration, cost effectiveness). One company was testing handheld technology where the system could download work orders. They sent their employees out to complete work orders using these devices. The group discussed many issues such as cost of handheld units, battery life of units, ability to push information to these units. Some group members felt that this technology is in its early stages and would wait for further development.

We also touched briefly on how systems could help track energy consumption, but we ran out of time. This was an area where some felt they would have to drill down through the system to develop this information.

The hour went quickly and we could have continued discussing this for at least another hour.

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