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FM Technology Users Forum
World Workplace '05
Facilitators: Peter S. Kimmel and Rod Stevens


On October 24, 2005, the FM Technology Users Forum met at IFMA's World Workplace show in Philadelphia 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 covered a variety of technology issues:
  • How off-the-shelf FM software (including ASP) is being applied successfully, including realized cost-related benefits;
  • How Web-based FM is changing the traditional way that automation is used for FM;
  • 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 Continue the Discussions

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 either start a new posting or respond to an existing one. These discussions are open to everyone, including those who did not attend the session-there is no better place than FM Forum to continue the discussions!


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

Michael J. Beno, Ashwaubenon School District, Green Bay, WI,

Moussa Chaer, Digital Facilities, Inc., Herndon, VA,

Marty Chobot, FM:Systems, Raleigh, NC,

Mick Dalton, British Institute of Facilities Management, Essex, UK

Case Runolfson, CFM, American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC

Note: Mick Dalton and Case Runolfson were co-authors and presenters for their group.

This Web page was compiled by FMLink, based on the notes submitted by the group leaders. Should there be any questions about the specific content from any one group, please contact the appropriate group leader above. 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:


The following were the primary topics discussed within each group; the group leader's name is listed in parentheses so you may find the paper below. Additional topics may have been discussed in each group as well.

Topic: Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) Solutions Group 1

Notes submitted by Moussa Chaer, Digital Facilities, Inc., Herndon, VA,

The attendees of this group discussed what a CAFM system is and how to go about implementing one. The format was questions and answers. On one side of the group we had attendees interested in learning more about CAFM while on the other side of the group we had more experienced CAFM users that provided answers for those questions.


What is a CAFM system?

Computer Aided Facility Management system (CAFM) is an integrated, off-the-shelf software packages that make-up one coherent system. CAFM systems automate facility management functions. Such functions include space planning, preventive and demand maintenance, lease management, move management, CAD integration, etc.

The off-the-shelf software packages that normally are integrated within a CAFM system include database software, a CAD package, and a reporting package. These off-the-shelf software packages normally are driven by the vendor's proprietary software package that pulls them into one coherent system.

Most CAFM systems consist of a core module that captures physical properties information. Once this module is populated, other modules could be integrated into the CAFM system to handle functions like space planning, maintenance, lease management, etc.

CAFM systems are available in either client-server or Web-based configurations. Client-server configuration includes a database server located on the network, while a client piece is installed on the end-user machine.

On the other hand, the Web-based configuration includes a Web server and a database server on the network. However, there is no "client" piece installed on the end-user machine. Instead, the end-user uses a widely available internet browser to access the CAFM system.


Many of the attendees wanted to know where to start and what data they should have before they start.

Since people and assets are located in rooms, most CAFM systems require that property portfolio information be populated first. This includes your properties, buildings, floors, and rooms. It also includes your organizations and employees.

Many CAFM implementations also include some sort of CAD Integration to help end-users visualize their space plans.

Once you have that module up and running, you can then add other modules to your CAFM system. Other modules include maintenance, lease management, inventory, assets, etc.

Many of the attendees agreed that having a clear business process in place improves the chances of a successful implementation of your system.

They also agreed that having standards in place was critical. Standards allow you to maintain the integrity of your data by having end-users follow pre-defined way of doing business. Most CAFM systems allow you to create drop-down menus. These drop-down menus take the guess work out of end-user input.

Management Role

Our discussion included the experience of some of the CAFM users. They shared with us what it was like in the early stages of the implementation. One of the difficulties they faced was collecting the data.

When starting up, one should leverage off other existing systems in order to avoid re-inventing the wheel. One example would be employee information. This information usually resides in an HR system. However, getting to that information is easier said than done.

Job security for the ones that have the information is one reason. Another reason is that your CAFM system has not earned the credibility as a viable system yet. As you can tell, this starts to sound like the chicken and egg syndrome. You need the data to become credible but HR is reluctant to give it to you because you are not credible.

This is where management backing becomes crucial. The CAFM implementation team will have to solicit management to exert pressure on the HR department to release the data.

Once the CAFM system has enough basic data to produce reports, other departments start asking for that information. As this happens more often, and as the system is kept up-to-date, the system starts earning the trust of the larger end-user population.

CAD integration

In a question about CAD integration, an attendee asked about what information she should have to get ready for CAD integration.

CAD integration is all about linking your CAD files to a database. In its simplest format, it allows you to link the outline of a room in the CAD file to a unique record in a database. Once a room is linked to a database record, you would have the capability to update your database with he square footage from the CAD package.

With CAD integration up and running, the end-users can update the database using either the textual front end (client of Web browser) or the CAD integrator.

CAD integration software packages include AutoCAD, Microstation, and other proprietary packages.

Client-server to Web-based

One of the major advantages of Web-based CAFM systems over traditional client-server systems is to eliminate the need to update multiple client machines with the latest system upgrades. Instead, the IT department would upgrade the Web server once and have every end-user using the latest version automatically. This is especially advantageous when your company has nationwide or even global offices.

If your company happened to have a client-server CAFM system and plans to move it to a Web based CAFM system then you have to examine whether your company is going with the same vendor or choosing a different vendor altogether.

If it is the same vendor, then most likely the vendor has migration-scripts to ease the pain of migrating the data from the client-server to the Web-based CAFM system. On the other hand if it is a new vendor system, then it is almost like starting from scratch which involves data mapping and data migration from the old system to the new system.

Key advantages for going to a Web-based system:

  • End-users can serve themselves and monitor the progress of their requests.
  • Easier access to enter and update data.
  • Easier access to view and print the data.
  • Easier for companies with offices in different cities or states, or even countries to manage the system.


The cost of implementing the system varies widely. It depends on what you want to do with the system and how many modules you plan to activate.

Besides the initial cost of acquiring the system (software, hardware, implementation services, and training cost) you need to be aware of the ongoing cost of keeping the system up and running. Sometimes the cost of keeping the system up and running is more costly than the initial investment of buying the software. This includes the annual cost of resources to operate the system.

Return on investment

In an answer to an attendee question about calculating return-on-investment, a more advanced user replied that in its simplest format the return on investment could be arrived at by calculating the difference in hours of how long it used to take you to perform a task before implementing the CAFM system and how long it takes to perform the same task after implementing the CAFM system. Multiply those hours by the appropriate hourly rates. Repeat this step for all the functions that the CAFM system will handle. This gives you an idea of how much the CAFM system will save your company.


Most attendees agreed that keeping the system up to date was a major challenge. You have to engage end-users that are away from the center of gravity of the system. As changes take place on a daily basis around the company offices (including offices in different cities), end-users tend to forget to notify the CAFM system operators. Unless you have a strong process in place to ensure that changes are passed on to the CAFM operators, the system would soon become out of synch and looses credibility real fast.

Final words

Although larger more experienced companies have the technical capacity to implement more CAFM modules at once, it is recommended that you start out small, nail it down, get others to buy into the system then add other modules.

Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) Solutions Group 2

Marty Chobot, FM:Systems, Raleigh, NC,

Moderator: Who uses CAFM in this group?

Greater than 50% have CAFM. There was 1 Web user in the group.

Audience Question: What does Web-based mean?

You don't have to buy the software; you can buy a hosted service that you access through a browser.

Audience Answer 1: Using a Web interface to client/server software.

Audience Answer 2: In background we have a fat client, users can access through Web interface.

Moderator: Do you have IT involved?

Audience: Have to have IT involved…

Moderator: What are the benefits of having a system?

Audience Answer 1: We use for space management—keep track of where people are. It's an off-the-shelf system, tied into PeopleSoft.

We're halfway implemented, only use it for space management.

Used to have people walking around with floor plans and crayons. Now it's a glorified headcount machine.

Audience Answer 2: Using our mainly for maintenance, preventive maintenance on all our systems. 5.5 million sq. ft.—we have a lot of stuff to keep up with.

Track time against every ticket, that's the extent of it. Our software is two versions behind the curve. We're just starting to implement handhelds. They get dropped and damaged… Can be a problem.

Audience Answer 3: Allocate rent to the facility, benefit to that… Department heads always ask: Why has my square footage number gone up? You can show them how they're space usage has changed. Also using work orders online. Don't have to know who to call for one type of service or another—the form automatically routes to the appropriate technician. Also, they can view floor plans online. Can run reports on the system—to justify new staff increase… We had 20% more work orders so we need another technician.

Audience Answer 4: Metrics, benchmarking a key benefit and also the ability to share documents.

The software has CAFM capability. We believe in having one database as long as its split into 12 pieces…

Just started scheduling… People think feedback that request was received is good but know they want to know when someone with tools will show up.

Moderator: Did you use off the shelf or build internally?

Audience Answer 1: A mix—the software was bought before I came board. Bought off the shelf but heavily customized.
  • Leases
  • Strategic Planning
  • Disaster Planning
  • Asset Management
  • Governmental Reporting

Audience Answer 2: Evaluate information and use that information to make better decisions going forward.

  • What's my churn rate?
  • How many people have I moved?
  • How many service requests?
  • What are the maintenance costs for a specific piece of equipment?

Audience Answer 3: Strategic Planning: Forecasting, how many people we have, where they should go logically in the building?

Audience Answer 4: People will tell us they grow 3% and really they grow 20%.

Have a current system, implementing a new system.

Will have to run them side by side for a year.

Audience Answer 5: We found there's no real formula.

You can reasonably project one year, but two or three years really hard.

Also bringing in outside contractors and those people don't get reported through HR.

We think we have vacancies but when we do a walkthrough and find contractors in those spaces.

Moderator: Are you integrated with security/badging systems?

Audience Answer 1: I get a cc: email when a non-employee gets a badge. If there's a space number then I can enter in the system manually.

Audience Answer 2: Nobody wants to talk about the fact that they're hiring contractors. HR doesn't want to know.

Audience Answer 3: I gave access to our CAFM software to the IT department so they could track drops. When IT provisions the technology, they let me know that a person was in a certain space.

Audience Answer 4: Infrastructure management. We have clean room facilities—micro/nano technology. We track information on what systems support what areas.

Audience Answer 5: Have a Siemens facility control systems that tracks all those systems. Backup systems that go online automatically. 24x7 Staff.

Audience Answer 6: Command center on call. Have flooded buildings, sprinklers go off all kinds of things can happen.

Audience Answer 7: What's the biggest problem you have with your system? Hard to justify. IT put up a lot of roadblocks.

Moderator: You're two systems behind. Why?

Audience Answer 1: We typically buy the Rolls Royce and we all end up driving Volkswagens. We modified the system so heavily that it made it impossible to upgrade.

Audience Answer 2: We're in the process of upgrading. Original system was not robust, wasted a lot of time with customer support—difficult to get support. Part of the problem is that our system was highly customized too. Hard to upgrade.

Audience Answer 3: I have the same problem. It's been highly customized. So many departments involved. IT doesn't have it as a top priority. So I said I'll bring in a outside consultant on my budget.

Can have political ramifications—IT group wanted us to use Remedy. But it wasn't graphically linked.

I need a politically correct way to tell them they have the capability with one product. The little fiefdoms have their own technology and I don't know how to tell them to change without getting fired.

Audience Answer 4: Bottom line is dollars… Find out what the maintenance costs for these separate systems. Rework from having multiple systems. Put together a financial business case for the CFO. If there's waste and way to save money then that gets their attention.

CAFM on a server. I can't find a way to justify the cost for a Web-based system. We also have different ways of measuring space utilization, different ways of working in different countries.

For me, the Web-based is dramatically cheaper for deploying the software, maintaining the software. It's also a great way of standardizing processes.

Audience Answer 5: I understand that, but that's territorial… Very political to say that our system is going to take over that capability.

Moderator: Is your solution departmental or is it enterprise wide?

Audience Answer 1: We don't need to know where Joe is sitting in London.

Audience Answer 2: We have a pretty elaborate charging system. Tracking equipment and space and charging back to the department.

Value is in extending access (e.g. service requests) and consolidating and normalizing data across all these different sites and business units.

Audience Answer 3: As a consultant, I work with people that have already a system. Not flexible enough to map to their business or it's too hard to use so that people don't use it or they use it in the wrong way (bad data in).

When you deploy it, be careful… Sometimes people turn the keys over allow full access—be disciplined in defining user roles and be careful about how you give access to information and functionality.

Think about the information you want out of the system—start with the end in mind. Then work your way back to what you'll need to get that information.

Put processes in place for function-based access—facility people who do the maintenance work versus people who do the space work. Lock down the data that those people can access.

Someone has to take ownership of the information to keep the information high-quality. You start with what's important to you and then share ownership with other stakeholders.

Document the process from start to finish. First person knows the process well, but then the second person only gets pieces and parts.

Audience Question 4: I have to outsource almost everything are there systems that can send emails out to third parties? Yes, almost all…

Corporate Intranets and FM

Notes submitted by Mick Dalton, British Institute of Facilities Management, Essex, UK AND Case Runolfson, CFM, American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC

Our group's main topic was to discuss how to build our organization's intranet FM site. The group consisted of FMs that had this challenge currently, FMs that operate intranet sites at their companies and FM consultants with diverse backgrounds in strategic FM and FM software systems.

Proposed Topics of Discussion

  1. Building a intranet FM site
  2. Intranet site content
  3. Effective work tickets
  4. Tools for FM to use web-based solutions
  5. How to improve accessibility to software

The majority of the group's time was spent on the first three sub-topics. The fourth item on tools was covered briefly and we did not get to the fifth. The exchange was lively and the mix of FM backgrounds created a dynamic venue for questions and answers.

This topic reflects the relative importance of our Technology competency, but neither elevates nor separates it from the other eight. The point of an intranet FM site is the ability to raise the profile of the FM team and the services they offer and promote and communicate the responsibilities and services which the FM team provides. As a result our time was equally split between the difficulties of effectively standing up the site and what it needs to contain to be useful.

The intranet FM site will likely be part of a company wide initiative and as a result the planning and execution will be complex (functionally and politically), front-loaded and will have fairly high visibility. The points provided below reflect our awareness of those factors.

Discussion Points

  1. Building an intranet site
    1. Simplify the ability to make changes—this is needed to cope with reorganizations, policy changes, personnel churn, etc. One idea is to use an enterprise-wide, corporate solution such as Lotus Notes to build your site
    2. The upfront workload is high. Seek buy-in from corporate communications, IT, HR, your team, and your boss, Try and align with business objectives and corporate culture and any other Intranet sites that exist in your business.
    3. Understand nature and extent of IT assistance and attendant security issues.
    4. Incorporate help desk functions consistent with realistic expectation of employee usage and compliance. A strategy to modify behavior must be consistent and deliberate to be effective.
    5. Most FMs received help from the company IT department or IT contractors.
    6. The figure given for maintaining the site was one day per week by an administrative assistant level employee with support from all your supply partners doing their share of the work to keep it updated

  2. Contents-the right contents will get people to use your site

    You must start by considering what the business would like to see and what are the important things which you need to communicate to your users but remember do it in their language and not FM speak


    1. Floor plans, way finding maps
    2. EAP and emergency related information
    3. Parking policy and maps
    4. Conference room descriptions and booking instructions
    5. Directions to building location
    6. Local restaurants/travel information
    7. Vendor information

  3. A key component of keepingcontents current is also establishing an effective system of access levels to make changes to it.

    One could provide an A to Z of information for the users. Under each letter have some information and links to vendors etc

  4. If you wish to use the Intranet to generate work tickets to your team or vendors then this is not so easy. You would be far better using an off the shelf helpdesk software solution. You could have a self service link on the intranet that links directly to your vendor/staff or Helpdesk system. If you wish to use the intranet to generate online forms to improve business process then the following considerations may be of use:

    1. Create the form from the customer's perspective- use your technology but their terminology.
    2. Build an expectation of effective response- provide a ticket number, an estimated repair time/date, generate an email response, etc.
    3. Leverage technology of outsourced/out-tasked service providers to streamline and speed up service response.

  5. Tools for FM to use Web-based solutions

    1. The key point here is that to get the best service the FM MUST be able to clearly define their requirement or objective.
    2. Local IT support is an effective place to start. They can arm us with the proper terminology, address integration and security issues at the beginning of the process and may have contacts that will aid in research.
    3. Consultants can be very useful but it is important to understand any product allegiance or representation that they may have. This factor will influence the scope of solutions they are likely to make.

  6. How to improve accessibility to software-not discussed due to time constraints.

To gain maximum use of your Intranet page you need to have some click and stickiness about your site


Offer discounts to services or hotels or travel so users keep coming back to your site

One could offer theatre ticket discounts, car hire discounts etc

You need to market the Intranet site with giveaways such as mouse mats, mugs

If there was a way you could have a link on your companies Intranet page to your site that would help also

Topic: PDAs and Pocket PCs

Michael J. Beno, Ashwaubenon School District, Green Bay, WI,

The technology is here but the equipment needs to evolve and improve:

Physical features/obstacles

  • Not user friendly.
  • Take too long to download.
  • Many only use PDAs for contacts and calendar.
  • Screens are too small/scrolling is time consuming.
  • Tablet PCs have larger screens and more useful but they are too large for mechanics and technicians to carry on the job—These are used extensively by HUD and some other government entities.
  • Pocket PC would be preferable to a PDA—more versatile and powerful.
  • Need to be able to view PDFs, drawings and parts diagrams in the field. Probably needs to be "Web based" in order to access this type of information rather than storing it in the unit—this may change with new technology.
  • Could interface with a parts ordering system. Could help minimize parts inventory and task cycle time by real time parts ordering.

Wireless or downloading?

  • Wireless will be necessary but still needs to download if out of range.
  • Some people like the download method because it gives them "think time or desk time".


  • Lower "office quality" units could be most cost effective.
  • Ruggedized units are much more expensive and it may be cheaper to just replace broken "office quality" units. This subject was debated based on the fact that most of the use is out in the field and units will get "knocked around".

Need accessories

  • Bar code scanning.
  • Digital camera.


  • Should be based on a good working CAFM. The PDAs and other equipment are just an extension of the CAFM so this needs to be in place first to assure functionality.
  • A pre-designed system is needed. Having an internal IT department create a system is more costly and less effective.

Other Issues

  • How do you sell the concept to technicians and mechanical trades? Fear of monitoring time "big brother watching" can be balanced out by using data to illustrate tasks completed = job security. Records of work orders are essential for timely maintenance of equipment and replacement when repair costs get too high.
  • These tools will help FM's transition from a response mode to a preventative mode.
  • Give training in sort bites rather than day long sessions. More effective for maintenance and technical staff.
  • Entries should be made through drop down menus rather than keying in data.
  • Most units are highly configurable which is essential.
  • System can record start/stop time for work and employees should be able to edit/enter their own time.


  • 6 months to 1 year for selection of system.
  • Implementation could be completed in a few days if it is based on a good CAFM. Much longer—up to one year if it is not.
  • Form a good internal team before starting.

Budget - Costs

  • Approximately $5000. per technician plus 18% per year maintenance (upkeep) cost.

A field PDA system must be based on a quality CAFM system that is currently, effectively working in your environment. If you implement the PDA system first, you will need to re-create it when a CAFM or TIFM is purchased.

Two additional contacts who have had some experience in implementing a PDA system

Matt Buchanan - student
Facility Management - North Dakota State University
Researched and implemented a PDA system for facilities management

Scott Gaillard
Teradyne Inc.
Agoura Hills, CA
Recently completed a selection process and is starting implementation

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