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FM Technology Users Forum

World Workplace '07

Facilitators: Peter S. Kimmel and Rod Stevens

Summary

On October 26, 2007, the FM Technology Users Forum met at IFMA's World Workplace show in New Orleans 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;
  • Considerations when migrating data from legacy systems to new systems;
  • 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 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 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!

Appreciation

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

Larry E. Rust, CFM, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT, rustle@ldschurch.org.

Timothy W. Cape, CTS-D, Technitect, LLC, Decatur, GA, tcape@technitect.com.

Teri Hofer, IIDA, WorkSpace, Inc., Des Moines, IA thofer@workspaceinc.net

Note: Unfortunately, no paper was submitted by the group that covered hand-helds and PDAs in the 2007 Forum. Please see the excellent 2006 notes for more information about this topic.

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 edit@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/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/WorldWorkplace2002.htm

http://www.fmlink.com/AEC-SFP/WorldWorkplace2000.htm

Topics

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: Work order and maintenance & operations systems

Notes submitted by Larry Rust, CFM, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, UT, rustle@ldschurch.org

Needs analysis
  1. End user needs and benefits:

    1. The system needs to be user friendly for all levels from the end-user with limited computer skills (e.g. facility occupant who simply wants request assistance) to CEO or CFO getting easy ability to access and integrate reports. There is a need for feeding information easily to all levels of staffing and/or contractors.
Software with implementation of systems needs and concerns

  1. Give cost benefits to management to reduce the fear of work order systems adding extra workforce resources to oversee the IT systems.
    1. Ease of communication to end user. This can be a high-value result because facility occupants want more communication about their requests.
    2. Increase productivity of all staff.
    3. Implementation is more likely to succeed if a sole person is ultimately responsible for it. Consider showing time savings in other areas to allow for a possible dedicated individual to champion IT projects.
  2. Asset management

    1. Accurate inventory tracking capabilities.
    2. Life Cycle Costs and recapitalization after retrofit.
    3. Measure problems with specific assets to identify problems or to influence equipment selection on future projects.
    4. Understanding the in-house needs.

      1. Industry specific / facilities specific.
      2. Easy for front line employees to identify needs and report data or repairs.
      3. Custom report capabilities with limited additional dropdown processes.
  3. System utilization tools to assure success

    1. Implementation of systems.

      1. Buy-in and support of system by all groups.

        1. Upper management integration and implementation.
        2. Involvement of the front end user .
        3. All associated with the processes, when processes have been properly identified. The point being made here was to understand the processes before looking to the software. The processes should govern implementation, but also don’t be afraid to improve any process with system capabilities.
      2. Reporting of systems

        1. Ease of compiling data (especially getting initial data into the system).
        2. Ease of report and graph generation.
        3. Work order tracking and reporting.
        4. Maintenance tracking of equipment and facilities.
      3. Taking ownership of systems and processes.
      4. Follow-up notifications of work-order processes.

        1. Return notifications sent to originator.
        2. Completion notifications sent to management levels if desired.
      5. Training on how to use systems (who to train and who sees completion notes).

        1. It’s important to tailor different training to different users.
        2. Also, train on why the system is used. For example, maintenance staff wanting to help and therefore do work without work orders being created or assigned. They do not understand the need for reporting (for example, to justify staffing).

          1. Possibility of maintenance creating own work orders for tracking?
          2. Verification signatures of WO by customers by electronic PDA? (As in UPS delivery verification).
        3. Performance evaluations measures to be tracked by system.
        4. Training of older staff work-force continues to be an issue.
      6. Maintaining data integrity.

        1. Updates to changes in inventory.
        2. Update extended life after maintenance.
      Value Added benefits and needs

      1. Systems integration with CAFM systems.

        1. Select system processes to be displayed on as need basis.
        2. If using multiple software groups (Real Estate, Finance, Project Management, and Work Orders), allow for systems to share and update information..
        3. t’s hard to get IT to support Real Estate and FM. So get to know the specific people who can make it happen.
        4. Modern systems are facilitating exchange between applications today. Once you’ve done one, others become much easier.
      2. Following work processes

        1. Review Processes.
        2. Allow for change of processes in system with little IT support.
      3. Capturing information and distribution of information.

        1. Allow for ability to turn on/off reporting systems as needed.
        2. Allow for reporting to initial costumer if desired.
        3. When other people see the data, they will value it with added uses. Leverage this for their support in jointly keeping all data up to date.
      Wish-list from experience to assist with IT systems

      1. Simpler the better.
      2. Reduce the number of screens one has to go through. There is a desire for fewer screens and overall simplicity, a desire for more drop-downs instead of free text fields, in order to get cleaner data and less typing..
      3. Easy integrations of the systems..
      4. Ease of entering and retrieval of data into systems..
      5. Information support system, allow for main contact to be in-house or external support. .
      6. For organizations looking to purchase an Integrated Work Management System (IWMS), they must develop a list of functional requirements for the software. Then evaluate prospective products on the basis of the requirements. Often procurement is done the other way around; then it becomes a matter of “the tail wagging the dog”..

Topic: Project Management

Notes submitted by Timothy Cape, CTS-D, Technitect, LLC, tcape@technitect.com

This group’s discussion was centered on networked systems for project management. The value-add takeaway for the group was simple: better project management. To this end, usability and scalability were the two prominent themes that emerged.

The biggest problem expressed was that the project management systems being used in many cases are much more complex than necessary. There is a desire to have systems that are both upward and downward scalable so that simpler, smaller projects can be managed online with only the functions and data needed for that project level or type. Adaptability and simplicity in reports and user interface is needed.

Some of the specific issues mentioned are using the amazon.com model of user interface and keeping the most needed data and functionality with 2 clicks of the primary user interface. There also may be a need to access centrally located data to minimize duplication of data and it’s resulting data maintenance issues. A related suggestion is to provide or create a system that will draw information from various online applications and databases to customize data access and management for various user types and needs. In addition, portability of access and support for handheld devices is desirable.

Network-based project management systems and data need to be available to appropriate individuals and entities within and outside the organization while maintaining security of the data and the network. The best system approach may be to implement a fully accessible system on the intranet behind a firewall while providing a web-based portal via port 80 to those outside the internal network.

Some key best practices and lessons learned were highlighted during the session, including:

  • Involve technology users early in the development or change process.
  • Provide systems that can “name and shame” people to help change behavior in the implementation of new or changed products and processes.
  • Try to fight the tendency for top management to “overdo” new systems by being sold by a vendor on a solution that may not be the best fit.
  • Analyze and develop processes first, then fit required products into the process, not the other way round.

Ultimately, there is no technology-based project management solution that is a panacea for all of the concerns raised—especially in “off-the-shelf” offerings. For those who have the resources, sometimes an internally developed custom system can be a good solution, but not everyone has this option. In any case, every organization has it’s own set of needs. Getting the users involved early and doing what’s best for you and your users’ particular needs is paramount.

Topic: Space Management and Planning

Notes submitted by Teri Hofer, IIDA, WorkSpace Inc., thofer@workspaceinc.net

This group's contributors ranged from facilities managers with old software in search of new software, to facilities managers outsourcing the management of space and assets, to a vendor selling services to FMs, to software companies.

Searching for answers to a variety of concerns including

  • What type of software would be the best for individual needs without buying a “bundled” product?
  • How do we merge a collection of systems that have been purchased though the years by different teams, i.e. IT, HR, and Accounting?
  • Is there a software product that allows us to purchase what we need without spending money on features we do not want?
  • How do we make a selection when there are so many platforms?
  • We have an accountability issue: how do we hold individuals and groups accountable for maintaining the data?
  • How far do we go in data collection, what is critical to track?

What we discovered

It is important to understand first what your business needs are and what is important to track.

There are FM programs that will answer the variety of FM requirements and needs.

To know what programs are needed, one must first understand the business goals and strategies. If the business goals and strategies for the company drive decisions instead of the agenda for each department driving separate decisions, the appropriate tools will be available, and the justifications for the cost can be made. When all departments are focusing together on the business strategies, then it is easier to measure and track the accountability.

The key word is process; once one has the program in place and one knows what the goals are, one needs to have the process in place to maintain and manage the data. With one's list in hand as to research the FM software available, the correct solution for your special business needs will be found.

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