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FM Technology Users Forum
World Workplace '06
Facilitators: Peter S. Kimmel and Rod Stevens


On October 10, 2006, the FM Technology Users Forum met at IFMA's World Workplace show in San Diego 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 several FM software 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:

Pamela A. Ewton, CFM, Shell Oil Company, Shell Real Estate, Houston, TX,

Linda Gilday, LMI Government Consulting, McLean, VA,

John McGlynn, Warner Brothers Studio Facilities, Burbank, CA,

Larry E. Rust, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT,

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: Energy Management

Notes submitted by John McGlynn, Warner Brothers Studio Facilities, Burbank, CA,

The group comprised a good cross section of industries that covered different regions across the country, including telecommunications, government, entertainment, and industry.

Discussion started with different individuals posing questions regarding EMS and evolved into discussions of topics relevant to EMS and the group.

Are we using EMS and are we using EMS to manage energy consumption?

Most everyone in the group was using some form of EMS, but among the members there was a wide variety of system types controlling a variety of different building systems to differing degrees. Among the group, the major systems being controlled were:

  • HVAC

  • Cooling towers

  • Lighting

There also was a wide range in how those systems were used, including:

  • Measuring system failures

  • Setting system schedules

  • Doing system setups and setbacks

  • Managing after-hours usage

The consensus of the group was that while they were all using these systems to varying degrees, they could be doing more with these systems in order to manage the facility better and to save energy. Also discussed were some of the limitations faced in order to get more out of these systems, including:

  • Having to work with older systems (not the most current technology)

  • Not having the budget to upgrade systems

  • Having limited control points

  • Having limited staffing to manage and maintain the systems

  • Having to address particular user and company needs ahead of system efficiency

  • Organizations not putting a high enough priority on energy savings

In reviewing these issues the group discussed not only how they could do a better job at managing energy with their systems, but how they could find ways to improve both their systems and how they use them. This led the discussion to how we could address this need with organizational leadership, such as talking with the CEO and CFO. It was discussed that such a conversation would likely come down to how, from their perspective, this would impact the bottom line.

While the group discussed ways in which we could better "talk their language" in convincing them that spending money on these systems and saving energy were good things, we also discussed how many companies are looking at the larger picture. The question was put to the floor:

What is the social conscience of a corporation?

When looking at EMS and a building's energy usage, it often is tied in with issues that the many companies as a whole are looking at, such as:

  • Green buildings

  • How the organization uses energy

  • How the organization treats employees and customers.

The group discussed how attention to these current trends and concerns are becoming more important to many organizations, large and small. The idea of being a "good corporate citizen" is becoming popular, and this thinking is compatible with the idea of using and improving EMS to save energy, and helps justify budgets for improving EMS and the systems they control.

This followed into a brief discussion of building re-commissioning. With the assistance of the session moderators, we learned that a good baseline cost for re-commissioning was $0.28 per square foot. While the group agreed that this could be a tough cost to swallow, it also could render considerable cost savings through improved energy efficiency. This discussion then lead to the following question:

Is benchmarking valuable?

The group discussed this question on two levels:
  • Using EMS to determine current energy usage (and historical usage)

  • Using EMS and EMS data to see where efficiency can be improved

While the group consensus was that benchmarking could be valuable, the discussion recognized the difficulties in both gathering historical data, and with some of the organizational operations that might needed to be addressed to obtain greater efficiency.

With regard to gathering current and historical data, some of the problems discussed included:

  • EMS not storing historical data

  • EMS not tracking actual energy usage

  • Having to go through energy billing records manually

  • Trouble gathering historical energy billing information

  • Not having any or enough historical data to quantify potential savings

  • Finding information on industry standards or benchmarks for energy usage

  • Operations considered too specialized for standardization or benchmarking

With regard to organizational operations playing a part in developing energy savings, several ideas were presented:

  • Getting buy-in from upper management for energy savings initiatives

  • Charging back departments for their energy usage

  • Charging departments for after hours usage

It was recognized that while talking about energy savings was positive, implementing energy savings often involves organizational changes that tend to be resisted. This is because such changes could:

  • Alter the "business as usual" way of working

  • Might require some capital investment (such as new EMS monitoring equipment).

From benchmarking, the discussion turned to some more practical aspects and issues related to working with EMS.

Dealing with EMS from a facilities perspective:

In discussing EMS, the group discussed several issues related to how these systems are worked with in the "real world" and some of the issues that FMs face dealing with EMS in their facilities. These included:

  • Capabilities of existing EMS vary greatly among organizations and among facilities within an organization

  • Range of capability can be minimal (basic alarms and limited control points) to having a full range of command and control and reporting

  • The age of systems can vary, and generally plays a roll in the systems' capabilities (newer systems have more features and capabilities than the older systems)

When addressing EMS from an FM perspective, the following considerations surfaced:

  • Importance of selecting people:
    • Existing contractors and engineers

    • Outside consultants

    • Manufacturers reps

  • Open and closed protocols of systems

  • Use within mixed environments

  • Whether the system uses proprietary tools or methods of communication

  • How systems can work within an existing infrastructure

  • Whether the system can be monitored remotely

  • Can newer systems connect to older systems or if disparate systems can communicate with each other

  • Can or should the organization standardize on a particular EMS system
    • Can keep consistency within a facility (could lower EMS operational cost)

    • Might want to consider a different system/vendor in new installations if previous systems/vendors not favorable

Other issues related to EMS:

As the discussion moved toward the close of the hour, a number of issues were raised in consideration of EMS, but were not discussed fully. Some of these ideas included:

  • Reducing energy though design
    • Thinking of how to save energy with new facilities by using good design

    • Using good architecture to facilitate energy savings

    • Establishing good locations and positioning on a given site

  • Using outside air and economizers to take advantage of favorable climates

  • Use monitoring of CO2 and air quality to help regulate a system

  • Using lifecycle cost analysis to justify EMS costs and energy savings
    • Greater efficiency to gain longer life of equipment

    • Using cost savings/payback cycle to justify EMS expense

    • Recognizing that good preventive maintenance improves life cycle

    • Recognizing that certain organizations may need to be educated on the benefits of PM and EMS to see that there are cost advantages

Outstanding questions that should be asked:

Toward the end of the discussion time the group posed questions that they wanted to ask and further discuss. While there was no time to discuss or try to answer these in the group, the group felt it was necessary to consider these questions when dealing with EMS. These questions included:

  • Are we using EMS to just monitor system status or are we using it to actually control and manage operations?

  • What is good for our organization?

  • What are we putting in place — why or why not?

  • Are we saving energy using EMS — why or why not?

  • Can we do this in house or do we need a consultant
    • What should we look for in a consultant?

    • What can a consultant bring to the table that our existing people can't bring?

    • What are the disadvantages of having existing personnel addressing these issues?

  • What are your energy contracts?
    • Do we have contracts with our utility providers?

    • Can we or should we negotiate contracts with our utility providers?


    Overall the group asked a lot of questions and put a lot of issues on the table. It was recognized that many questions were not easily answered, and in some cases participants brought up issues that other members had not thought about until they were brought up by someone else. The consensus of the group was that when looking at EMS, or any FM issue like this, it is beneficial to discuss them as a group like this to better understand the issue, make sure the right questions are being asked, the right issues are being addressed, and how such things might apply to our own organizations.

    Topic: Maintenance and Operations

    Notes submitted by Linda Gilday, LMI Government Consulting, McLean, VA,

    The majority of people participating in the maintenance and operations discussion were in various stages of automation—from thinking of selecting a new system, all the way to very knowledgeable about the world marketplace of CAFM/CMMS software. All appeared to realize the benefits of having electronic means to facilitate more efficient maintenance and operations.

    Needs analysis

    • When deciding on what type of technology is most needed by a particular organization, the technical and functional requirements should describe the needs of other departments-in particular, how the new software might depend on or feed to an outside department is critical information that a new software provider must consider. The software selected by an O & M organization must include provisions for communication with other departments, and, in some cases, with outside vendors who routinely supply and bill for services and materials. The trouble calls managed by the maintenance and operations department are rarely the only need of new software.

    Software selection

    • Users should think strongly about the need for handheld devices, even if they are not yet in use.

    • Partnering discussions with the IT departments are very important. The technical requirements are of equal importance to the functional requirements.

    • Web-based applications are important, but not to all organizations. Sometimes a Web-based application is not needed.

    • New technology selections should evaluate open databases.

    • Intuitive-ness is of critical importance in selection of new software. If it takes forever to learn or figure out how to use, it will not be embraced, and users will find workarounds that limit the usefulness of the software application as originally designed.

    • Integration with company financials is an extremely important consideration.

    • Ability to import legacy data is a factor that should be evaluated when selecting new software. Similarly, the ability to export data is important.

    • Asset-based systems are important. So too are performance-based systems. Better yet, software should allow maintenance and operations organizations to manage both.

    Implementation tips

    • Our group discussed the critical need to keep the data standardized from "day one." Establishing data owners is a best practice. Accountability for the data is essential.

    • The implementation team should try to avoid redundancy — data should be entered once, and in a standardized way so that others in the process easily understand it and don't have to reinterpret or re-do the entries.

    • Common processes are critical and need to be documented. The day shift must use the same process as that used by the night shift, etc.

    • The process for outsourced contractors' data submission needs to be predefined (and known) prior to the start of implementation.

    • A process for importing commissioning information (such as as-builts and new equipment specs and warranties) needs to be documented and built into the supplier/contractor agreements.

    Topic: Space Management and Planning (CAFM)

    Notes submitted by Pamela A. Ewton, CFM, Shell Oil Company, Shell Real Estate, Houston, TX,

    The round table discussion centered on space and asset management and the software solutions available to do it all. The team discussed experiences and process history in identifying and implementing computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) programs. They shared successes and failures as well as individual expectations of what a system should do overall. There was little to no discussion on specific systems; the discussion focused more on the general requirements, uses, expectations, challenges and realizations of those that have experience.

    Overall Expectations

    • To be effective, find a system that can grow with your organization. Provide upgrades that do not require you to begin again in how you build your information. Too often in using software packages you must continually upgrade to receive the latest and the greatest abilities only to find one day that what you have is no longer supported you must make a total software change.

    • Plan your program strategy to include a full time person to focus on implementing any system to be successful. This is not a task that can be done as part-time filler for any organization. It is not a task that can be done by anyone outside the organization. Select someone with FM background and CAD understanding, who recognizes the importance of the information and the accuracy in which it is entered.

    Key must-haves:

    • Upper management support is very essential to doing it right. Market the benefits of the data that can be extracted to assist the organization in its real estate strategy, core business, etc.

    • You must make sure that you have strong process in place for order of entry. Set your plan for where to begin, how to enter information so that it is consistent throughout the program, establish your methodology, and do not rush yourself.

    • Get help with implementing the program from someone who knows what he or she is doing. This is not a good training exercise for anyone. The information you enter is too critical to the overall success of the program.

    • You must have participation from your HR, phone and network services, move personnel, planners, etc. in order to keep your information usable. If you have other services within your organization that control certain aspects of change that will effect the accuracy of the information that you are tracking, they must participate or your information becomes outdated as quickly as you enter it. You should know who is coming and going within the organization, where they are and what they have or need. Review all processes and determine key roles and identify the right personnel to be your focal points that represent each area.


    • It is difficult to coordinate the changes and data updates but it is imperative to the success of the program. Set a specific day and time for updates, whether they are daily or weekly. Do not go too long or your data will not be current when you need it.

    • Establishing a process that will be fully supported. Make sure everyone is on board with the timing and the process and they understand the format in which you must receive the updates. Your updates should include all phone or computer moves or changes, new hires, retirees, terminations, new construction, renovations, organizational changes, etc. All of this can be critical in the accuracy of the information that you are tracking.

    • Finding a system that will allow you to integrate information from your existing systems, if any.

    • Getting agreement throughout the organization on what data should be tracked.

    • Setting up an effective audit process to validate data. This is a must! There needs to be a checks-and-balances in tracking your information that keeps you on track. Remember that the information is entered manually and the smallest mistake can corrupt your entire database.

    Key Realizations

    • Implementing a CAFM system is not a short-term process. Give yourself plenty of time to do it right. Remember that the information output is only as good as the input.
    • Market the benefits of the data within your organization to gain support across the board.
    • CAFM can provide real information based on real data to support growth projections, leasing projections, new facilities or release of current facilities. It can be a truly strategic tool if it is used correctly within the organization.

    Needs identified by the team:

    • Forecasting
    • Accessing data quickly
    • Scenario building
    • Current allocations
    • Asset tracking
    • People tracking
    • Data jacks, network and phone locations
    • Rent allocations for third party or internal chargebacks
    • Stacking diagrams

    Topic: PDAs and Pocket PCs

    Notes submitted by Larry E. Rust, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT,

    Most involved in this breakout are facilities managers either looking to improve or looking for uses of PDA within their own group. The topic of discussion was uses of wireless systems and the challenges PDAs present. In reviewing notes from the past Technology Users Forum (2004 & 2005), many of the same issues presented themselves.

    The discussion identified the following information, problems, issues and challenges:

    • The PDAs are so hard to read with small text.
      • Font size

      • Background visibility in high light areas

      • Sight of environment

    • Taking PDAs into and out of workplaces.
      • Downloading or real-time downloads

      • Locations of work (unable to transmit and receive data) and frequency limitations. Being able to transmit in high-energy environments.

    • How will technological support be made available?
      • Proper selection of a PDA

      • Will the technology be outdated before it is implemented?

    • Privacy issues & security issues (government restrictions).

    • Getting the information to give to customer
      • Providing information to generate reports
      • Inventory assessments

    • Document retrieval.
      • Internet capabilities

      • Facilities management software and basic software; e.g., Microsoft documents

      • Tracking of inventory, parts and equipment

    • When server goes down the Blackberry is dead.

    • Charge Life on the unit (8-hour life).

    Solutions, conclusions and wish list

    1. Make user-friendly programming for the group
    2. Wi-fi access or Internet links
    3. Need to be able to use functions
    4. Need to be small in size (pocket) but have readable font sizes and background
    5. All in-one PDA, cell, GPS

    Everyone in the group uses PDAs with many limitations. There is a desire to take PDAs to the next level and make them more user-friendly, allowing for instant reporting of any information entered.

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