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FM Technology Users Forum
World Workplace '03
Facilitators: Peter S. Kimmel and Rod Stevens


On October 20, 2003, the FM Technology Users Forum met at IFMA's World Workplace show in Dallas 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 four groups, and focused on several topics:

  • How off-the-shelf FM software (including ASP) is being applied successfully, including realized cost-related benefits;

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

  • Effective use of the Internet for energy management and controlling energy costs;

  • How wireless and handheld devices are being integrated into facilities management;and

  • Tips and tricks for making the above applications effective.
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, 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 look in the Discussion Items and Opinions forum, and then look for the World Workplace posting of 2003-11-09. These discussions are open to everyone—there is no better place than FM Forum to continue them!


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

Theresa DiGiorgio, CADapultFM, Wilmington, Delaware

Chris Keller, Integrated Data Solutions, Inc., Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Mark Schumann AIA, President, ID&A Associates, Inc., Dallas, TX

James H. White, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston, Texas

Bob Visser, Visser Software Services, Inc., New York, New York

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, 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 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:

Group 1

Topics: CAFM Systems—Evaluation and Implementation Issues

Notes submitted by Mark Schumann AIA President, ID&A Associates, Inc., Dallas, TX

Introductions and initial input to session seemed to indicate that many of the participants were not committed to a particular system but were more interested in how a system could work for them once they take the 'plunge' into computer-aided facilities management (CAFM).

A few participants asked the basic questions, 'where do you start'?….'what comes first'?….can I use CAFM on a very limited basis'? if so, where? A few others had experience in CAFM so that they could relate points of awareness, evaluation, and important caveats.

No one in our group came close to stating that CAFM was a beautiful thing—that it solved all of their space and data tracking issues. Much input from the experienced indicated that without a strong focus and commitment, a CAFM system could end up becoming a beast to be tamed.

In fact, it was recognized that CAFM was but the tip of the iceberg the whole process of how and what facilities information is gathered and collected, who controls it, and to what extent it may be used and shared.

Factors in Selection of CAFM Systems

    Recognition—CAFM is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Successful CAFM elevates the facilities profession, and helps to establish a leadership role for the profession. Corporate 'silos' are the enemy. Without partnership, no CAFM system will succeed.

    Goal—CAFM exists to make our lives easier, not harder. Allows the facility group to become a driving force in the corporate structure.

    Evaluation—start with determination of needs—then find the software that is best suited. A CAFM system may be no more complicated than a basic CAD space/partition plan to identify and manage space under facility responsibility. A system, however, implies accurate and timely input of data, as well as maintenance of the system. A myriad of items must be decided and agreed upon in the beginning, the 'easy part' being the technology itself.

A strong and accurate focus is essential. Consider the following items:

  1. Commitment. Upper management must support the system concept; not only for funding but also to resolve issues of turf and to insure other departments will provide necessary data.

  2. Ownership. Someone must own the system.

  3. Time frame. What is the time frame for implementation? Consider a 90 day plan. Storyboarding is helpful to communicate.

  4. Plan responsibility. Who will be responsible for plans? Will this be outsourced or an in-house task?

  5. Drawing format. Are existing CAD plans available for use? Any reproducible drawings? Just roll sets? Will scanning be involved? Note that copyright issues are involved using plans created by others. Another issue is compatibility with other entities, consultants, interdepartmental.

  6. Accuracy. If plans are available, are they accurate? What is the level of accuracy needed: dimensional, or simply all revisions and updates shown? Will the drawings be used to track rental areas or to charge back departments? Without dimensional accuracy, someone or some entity will lose—especially when multiplied over the term of a lease.

  7. Links. Are the drawings to be linked to an area, FF&E or headcount database?

  8. Sharing. How will the documents be shared: local/paper, electronically, or global/web-based?

  9. Updating. Who will keep the information current? If outsourcing is chosen as the method for input, who will update once initial input is complete?

  10. Headcount. If tracking personnel is to be a component of the CAFM system, where will that data come from: payroll, HR, telecom, security…? At what intervals shall it be updated? By whom?

  11. FF&E. If this is to be tracked, who performs inventory and updates? Are bar codes to be used?

  12. Compatibility. If Telecom group is the driver for data, should the same drawing/documentation system be used/shared?

  13. Database integration. Is it desirable or even possible to integrate databases to be tracked?

  14. Moves. Should the system support moves of people and FF&E? Can it generate a move plan that is useful to all departments? Can the system track personnel location/re-location? Can the system generate move scenarios?

  15. Training. How easy is the system to learn and use?

  16. ROI. Establish the real costs of implementing a system.

  17. Partnership. Cross-functional teams working together can make a CAFM system successful.

Group 1

Topics: Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM)

Notes submitted by Theresa DiGiorgio, CADapultFM, Wilmington, Delaware

In an educational session to discuss CAFM technologies a group of facilities managers and CAFM systems experts determined that perhaps the best answer is not where to start but how to start. All agreed that the slow approach is the best approach. Though there are many resources available to provide CAFM systems, the first step is to know your needs before seeking a partner to address them. In order to select software that meets specific criteria, one must first identify their needs within all areas of the facilities management process.

Process Makes Perfect

Development of an automated facilities management system can be a daunting task for any organization. Within the group that gathered at the educational session, all agreed that the best start was to identify and analyze internal processes and resources available within their environment to accomplish a needs analysis and define reasonable goals and objectives. All departments affected by, or that might affect integration and ongoing daily management, should be consulted in order to best prepare for the process, including HR and IT personnel.

The most effective CAFM systems will duplicate your process through modular applications, allowing you to gradually develop to meet your functional specifications. In the case of larger implementations most facilities managers agreed that a logical start in development is space management and planning, which will expand to include personnel and asset management, maintenance and operations. With this said, in the preparation process a facilities manager must consider the status of electronic renderings and data integrity. In order to accomplish management functionality and reporting in one system, one first must obtain accurate drawings and identify data requirements. Once information is in place the evaluation of a CAFM protocol becomes an assessment of potential solutions that enable a seamless integration with bi-directional communication, to and from drawings and data sources.

But with all of these technological solutions, facilities managers are faced with a non-technical issue.

With technology comes a change in culture: Where does FM fall?

With the growing use of technology many facilities managers have experienced a lacking identity for their FM group. In this group of FMs, there was no commonality for facilities management placement within an organization. Because of it's diverse involvement in many facets of a company, a facilities manager can find his/her self in a limbo of sorts as it relates with HR, IT and Legal departments. In order for a facilities manager to be successful in implementing an integrated system, one must be aware of this cultural shift. It becomes a matter of credibility. In order to make a CAFM system an optimally beneficial resource, facilities managers must be willing to vie for their own importance and communicate with all groups who might enhance or hinder the development process.

The results can be surprising. One FM found that once core components of a system were in place other department directors became anxious to be included. Thus, system growth became a matter of importance for the organization as a whole. However, it was agreed that growth would be slow and well planned.

With all the latest and greatest advancements on the expo floor, perhaps the best were the accomplishments of those groups in the CAFM technology session. FMs had embraced their evolving worlds, but recognized the importance of their own processes and objectives. By slowly evolving technology to fit their needs they have created a successful implementation geared for growth and enhanced functionality. That's a whirlwind that seemed to be welcomed by all.

Rough notes
(these are offered to reinforce what others may have written on these pages) presented by Chris Keller, Integrated Data Solutions, Inc., Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Group 1 CAFM

Wide variety of needs from what I need to get started to advanced development Integration and process with a heavy dose of leadership to overcome silos of information Start with space planning as the primary building block.

Need an owner—IT not the best group because they don't know the business of FM; IT best as ally for information

Technology is the easiest part, culture is the key indicator to the success of the implementation

Upper management support is critical

Cost is high for dwg development

Group 2

Web, Internet, Extranet, & CAFM

Chris Keller, Integrated Data Solutions, Inc., Langhorne, Pennsylvania

The group began its quest by generating a list of questions. We attempted to answer the questions in the time allotted, but fell short in answering each question in detail. However, we did make some progress by addressing all the questions on a macro level.


  1. Does it make sense to have a CAFM (computer-aided facilities management) system that is not Internet enabled?
    No—Need to be able to integrate and share data. The key question to answer is "What can we do that we couldn't do before?"
  2. Should the application be totally web enabled?
    Ideally yes—especially in the future. Some applications will work fine as client server and in fact that may be required for some integrations. But the future is all Web.
  3. What is an example of a CAFM application for the extranet?
    Project collaboration and e-procurement are the big ones. Bidding and filing permits are growing.
  4. How to increase web use to add value? Is additional info and data integration enough?
    Need to have integration with accounting (ERP systems). Management does not perceive the value of FM automation and FMs are perceived as the bearer of bad news. Need to use the web to market FM to the organization and change the organization's view of the FM department.
  5. Can the data security, access, and data integrity concerns be addressed?
    Technically yes, psychologically—maybe.
  6. What business issues lend themselves to these kinds of applications? Graphical, or data, or both?
    Sometimes one or the other—depends on the request. Upper management requested information—requests come without warning. The system needs to be implemented so that FM can react to the future unknown requests. Internet can help to educate the organizations on the value of the system by making valuable information available.
  7. Should the system be purchased or obtained as a solution (ASP or self-hosted)?
    ASP vs. hosted depends on the needs. The process has to be defined before the appropriate technology can be specified. Control the environment through process before automating (Move process). Use regulation compliance to force the control of moves. What happens when wireless allows movement without involving IT or FM?
    Too many people say they can integrate every system, hard to select the proper solution.
  8. What do you need a system for?
    Reporting, provide current information, provide education with the data so the user knows what the value of the info is. Don't have a process in place for strategic planning of space.


The consensus of the group was that unless specific technical issues (i.e. integration with legacy systems) dictate an alternate solution, implementing a fully web enabled application that manages data and graphics is the best choice.

The value in implementing web based FM tools include:

  • Reporting current, accurate information
  • Preparing to address future executive management requests
  • Help educate the organization as to the value of the FM department
  • Improve business process
  • Provide new information
  • Become more proactive and strategic

The system needs to address current business issues and in fact current business issues (such as regulation compliance) can be used to justify the system. The system needs to integrate with other systems such as ERP.

It is critical to understand the business processes prior to implementation and to let the business processes define the system.

One of the most difficult parts of implementing a system is selecting the best system. Without a technical background, it is hard to know which is the best choice. "What is the difference between a computer salesman and a car salesman? The car salesman knows when he is lying."

Group 2M

Topics: General CAFM and Energy Management

Notes Submitted by James H. White, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston, Texas.

Our discussion group consisted of about ten to fifteen people. We discussed two topics, General CAFM (computer-aided facilities management) and Energy Management. Most of our group fell into the category of "CAFM in General". Three participants were particularly interested in energy management for buildings.

Our discussions centered on four topics, user friendliness, system implementation, data management and energy management.

Our group expressed keen interest in user friendly FM systems for end users and those who input data. Most end users want to use their FM system to find data, print it, and in some cases download it for use in their particular software applications. Other end users, who do not have proficient computer skills, need a system that is easy to use, especially if they are required to input data. It is becoming increasingly important for those who input data to have more knowledge about the information they are entering. The group considered search engines such as Yahoo to be a model for "user friendly" intranets or extranets. An important part of planning is to allocate resources for vendor help to install a FM system and architectural help to build data base and load drawings.

The problems of system implementation were discussed. The term "Tunnel Vision" was mentioned as a major problem. I do not think our group defined "Tunnel Vision" but it was implied to mean a lack of vision and teamwork. There is a lag time or a generation gap between the "old ways" and the "new ways" of doing things. Leadership should take time to look at "new ways" of doing things or it will be labeled as having tunnel vision. Yet we are all guilty of "tunnel vision" somewhat because our duties and responsibilities dictate how we spend our time and we continue to use old methods instead of taking time to look at new methods. Leadership committed to implementing an automated "Information System" is probably the most important factor.

Another area of discussion was data management. The need for accurate data and information is paramount for good decision making by management. Many organizations are regulated by law as to how long they must maintain records. For example, Architects can destroy project files seven to ten years after a project is completed although much of the information continues to be valuable, like structural drawings. Disputes over the ownership of information and confidential information were discussed as other major obstacles to implementing a CAFM system. Even when controlled access to confidential data is obtained, information on long-term temporary personnel is not included. Once the data are entered, they must be kept up to date or the system does not deliver full benefits. Basic data requires a trained data entry clerk. Drawing changes will require help for the architect.

Energy Management was discussed. Those of the group involved with energy management spoke about the difficulties of obtaining historical energy data. When the historical data is found, often it is not stored for future reference, and the time consuming process of gathering the data is repeated over and over again. It was also noted, as time passes, historical data increasingly becomes more difficult to retrieve from outside sources due to company closures and mergers resulting from the deregulation of the energy business. Data entry help is required to enter the historical data from paper sources for computer analysis. Therefore, once valuable historical data are captured, they need to be stored for later use, on an extranet of an intranet.

Rough notes
(these are offered to reinforce what others may have written on these pages) presented by Chris Keller, Integrated Data Solutions, Inc., Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Group 2 Web, Internet, Extranet

  1. Does it make sense to have a CAFM system that is not internet enabled?
    No—Need to be able to integrate and share data. What can we do that we couldn't do before?
  2. What is an example of a CAFM application for the extranet? Project management, e commerce
  3. How to increase web use to add value? Additional info/data integration? Need to have integration with Accounting - Management does not perceive the value of FM automation and FMs are perceived as the bearer of bad news.
  4. Data security, access, integrity?
  5. What business issues lend themselves to these kind of applications? Graphical or data or both?
    Upper management requested information—requests come without warning. Internet can help to educate the organizations on the value of the system
  6. Should one purchase system or solution—ASP or self hosted? Must define process first.
    Control the environment through process before automating (Move process). Used regulation compliance to force the control of moves. What happens when wireless allows movement without involving IT or FM? Too many people say they can integrate every system, hard to select the proper solution.
  7. What do you need a system for—reporting, provide current information, provide education with the data so the user knows what the value of the info is. Don't have a process in place for strategic planning of space.

Group 4


Bob Visser, Visser Software Services, Inc., New York, New York

What are the needs driving a CAFM-Related PDA Implementation

  • Get rid of paper
  • Real time access / updates
  • Data closer to 'point of work' 'at your fingertips'
  • Easier info organization on handheld
  • Workflow capabilities
  • Variety of different platforms / protocols
  • Drill down capabilities
  • Integration / translation of data
  • Security
  • Reporting

What is the functional usage of a CAFM related PDA

  • Maintenance
    Inspection routes
  • Management tracking
    Where is craftsperson
    Time / labor reporting
  • Inventory
    Parts crib
  • Condition Assessment


How do you get past techno-phobia of staff who will use system / process?

  • Showing them how this will make their job better / easier, will make getting Buy-in easier.

Software selection Related to CAFM/PDA

Currently 25% of the group use PDA's in their facility
  • Palm based
  • Win CE

Issues regarding Linkage between PDA data and database:

    Custom written linkage/interface or off shelf product?

    Understand Security issues of WIFI networks

    What Access is needed:

    • Hot Sync (periodic update)
    • Real Time (live update - not typical)

What is the value add of a CAFM related PDA?

  • Mobility of craftsperson—"un-tethered"
  • Administrative efficiency
  • Info accuracy—validation
  • Proactive service—mobile person can both open & close WO's w/o a phone call or return to office
  • PM effectiveness—proactive
  • Documentation simplicity
  • Tracking outsourced resource hours
    • Time stamping verification
  • Validation / compliance (FDA regulations)
  • Electronic signature
  • Out of tolerance readings—immediacy of action
  • Force you to understand process before automating
  • Application of wireless—broadcast messaging during a crisis

Other Issues

  • Portability of device
  • Encourages usage
    • Battery life critical
  • Cost / benefit—how widely distributed = how many units need to be purchased
  • Ability to use a variety of devices based on usage application
  • Betting on a software standard platform
  • Ensure compatibility with existing CMMS system
  • Understanding of the applicability / appropriateness of various hardware options

Rough notes
(these are offered to reinforce what others may have written on these pages) presented by Chris Keller, Integrated Data Solutions, Inc., Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Group 4 - Energy Management

They "solved all their problems"
Info is scattered—hard to get it
Must have a knowledgeable person to input the data
Need a professional to help with starting the system
Need on going support to maintain the system
Is anyone proactive with real time energy management?
Trained staff for data input
Web is preferred solution
Interdepartmental collaboration, multiple systems, confidential data, lack of teamwork between depts.
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