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FM Technology Users Forum

World Workplace 2010

Facilitators: Peter S. Kimmel and Rod Stevens


On October 29, 2010, the FM Technology Users Forum met at IFMA's World Workplace show in Atlanta to discuss recent developments in using automated systems for facilities management. The session was moderated by Peter Kimmel, IFMA Fellow (FMLink and FM BENCHMARKING, 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.
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM), intelligent buildings and building information systems.
  • How corporate intranets and extranets are being used for FM and for sharing FM and corporate information, as well as for project management.
  • How wireless and handheld devices are being integrated into facilities management, including for maintenance monitoring.
  • Considerations when migrating data from legacy systems to new systems; converting from off-the-shelf software systems to Web-based systems.
  • Building automations systems; effective use of the Internet for energy management and controlling energy costs.
  • Compliance with data measuring standards; comparing internal data to public data for benchmarking purposes.
  • Advanced topics such as tips and tricks for making the applications effective, including implementation issues, sharing data and security.
  • Specific applications were incorporated into the above topic areas. These included FM applications such as space management, work management, energy management, sustainability and many more.

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, supplemented by details of information exchanged within each group. 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:

Giselle Holder, Project Engineer, Facilities Management, Acuitas Caribbean Limited, Cascade, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies,

Jon E. Martens, CFM, CFMJ, IFMA Fellow, JEMCOR, LLC, Santa Rosa, CA,

Timon Smith, Vice President, FacilityOne Consulting, Shanghai, China,

Fred Weiss, CFM, IFMA Fellow, Director, Facilities Business Operations, The University of Texas at San Antonio,

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

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.

Some groups spent more time discussing some of their assigned topics than others; not each assigned topic is described on this Web page. Specific questions about content should be addressed to each group leader.

The reader may read the topics in any order desired. Each is written independently. As a rule, there is very little overlap. Some of the topics are more basic, while others are quite advanced. Regardless, many excellent ideas were exchanged among the participants that will be of value to both those who are starting out and those who have already implemented systems.

Topic: Building Automation Systems (BAS), Energy Management, Benchmarking, Security

Notes submitted by Jon E. Martens, CFM, CFMJ, IFMA Fellow, JEMCOR, LLC, Santa Rosa, CA,

Editor's Note: Due to time constraints, this group's discussion focused on the points made related to security systems.

  • Needs analysis and security applications
    This group discussed the needs analysis that organizations have gone through in their security systems. There were many differences in the systems from a technology standpoint. Some had cameras while most had roving security patrols. Most had either proximity cards or some form of identification cards while fewer had key systems in place for all employees.

  • Who selects the security systems?
    While most of the participants thought that the ultimate security system decision was made for them, not by them, most felt that they were included in the recommendation stage of the system selection analysis.

  • Key issue: Integration between security systems
    In the follow-through after initial systemic needs analysis was completed, many participants discussed concerns over today's environment focusing more on the integration issues with their systems. The tying together of the cameras, access controls, burglary, along with the building management systems and work order systems is not as far along as many would like to see. There is definitely a trend within our group that identified a move to take the human equation out of the systems and automate it more.

  • Maintenance of security systems
    Everyone in our group agreed that all maintenance on systems should be based on the condition assessment, age of the equipment, usage, criticality to the core business, and history or current technological development of the product.

  • Lifecycle costs, replacement and upgrading of security systems
    There was difficulty in collecting data to determine the lifecycle costs of security systems. Organization IT or "computer replacement" policies were brought up by several participants as an issue, as the policies often weren't written to relate specifically to the security systems arena (versus other more traditional IT applications), and thus they would often get in the way of an upgrade determination. It seemed to many that the need for replacement did not necessarily relate to when systems would get replaced or upgraded; it was difficult to identify to timeframe of a system's life.

  • Integration with other building systems
    There are many more points of interest for monitoring in the field of facilities. Occupancy is fast becoming the strongest with the energy push as well as security. Tying security systems into the building automation systems and monitoring them as well as the HVAC and lighting combined is a priority with more people than before as well.

Topic: Space Management

Notes submitted by Fred Weiss, CFM, IFMA Fellow, Director, Facilities Business Operations, The University of Texas at San Antonio,

There were fourteen industry professionals in this group; over half the group managed less than 100,000 gross square feet. The discussion points from this group are presented in the form of a series of questions and answers.

Why do companies purchase CAFM and maintain a database?


  • Individual space tracking with Employee Name, Space ID, Phone Number and Cost Center.
  • Track Vacant Spaces and Occupancy Rates per building, floor, and portfolio.
  • Some programs can track churn.
  • Move management tool.
  • Reports can be pulled from the database quickly; e.g., how many spaces are dedicated to Marketing? This can be done by asking for this data in some CAFM programs instead of hand-counting color-coded floor plans.
  • Some CAFM Programs offer Stacking Plans for strategic planning several years out.
  • Basically, there is a layer for noting locations of people that goes over the AutoCAD plans. If you maintain floor plans, this is an additional layer that helps with the details of who sits where. This is a database link to electronic drawing files.

What CAFM software does the group use and recommend? Please note any advice to implement a new program.


  • There are approximately 10 companies that offer CAFM and had booths at the World Workplace expo. Many of these companies offer what is needed to track space electronically. There is no one program that works for everyone's needs. There are four CAFM programs that are more advanced for a larger portfolio. Forum organizers asked not to mention any programs in particular.
  • In some cases, companies hire a consultant for selecting a CAFM Program after analyzing their space planning procedures.
  • Be patient. It can be a 12-18 month process from start to finish.
  • To implement a CAFM program, the 1st step is to walk each floor and note all names on each occupied space. Then, those names are added to the database.
  • If you are researching how to implement CAFM, use your IFMA contacts for input, guidance, and knowledge sharing.

Who updates the data in CAFM?


  • Many large companies hire in-house CAFM Administrators who update Seating Plans and Reports.
  • When it is a smaller portfolio, some companies send their M-A-C (Move-Add-Change) forms to a qualified consultant or design firm for their entries into the system. They can be hired on an hourly basis or by $/SF.

What industry changes does the group in regard to furniture sizes?


  • Shrinking Standards due to lower overhead costs by upper management.
  • Since many office workers are in meetings and travel with their job, the average office or workstation is used 50% of the day. Many companies are giving less choices with workstations and offering more drop-in areas, cafes, and meeting spaces (formal and informal).
  • IFMA has Benchmarking Standards in their published report. Space Standards are common in most companies.
  • Office sizes vary in different parts of the country and world.
  • When there are office standards, this makes box moves easier. When there are not office standards, it may take longer to move people due to furniture or construction changes.

How do companies handle Move Management?


  • Excel documents used to be the norm with managing larger moves. They note employee or contractor name, To/From locations, PC #, and phone #.
  • Administrator has to enter the people into the correct spaces. This person prints the Excel document, goes to the database, finds the person's name, and hand changes the new location.
  • If you move many people/year, it was recommended the employee or contractor name, PC #, phone #, and Space ID be pre-populated in CAFM. Then, you can save a planned move in CAFM and show to/from plans for the planned move. Once the move is completed, the users click a button that changes the data automatically.
  • Excel documents for planning moves is fine for smaller organizations. Block Plans can be completed by your Project Manager or Architectural/ Interior Design firm. They can place the floor plan in a PowerPoint file and create Block Plans using boxes and text.
  • M-A-C (Move-Add-Change) processes are usual completed in (3) ways:
    1. Excel Documents and no CAFM Programs (smaller organizations).
    2. Excel Documents with a CAFM Administrator entering changes after moves.
    3. On-line using a CAFM Program, entering changes while planning moves, and changing the plans after the move occurs.

What are some of the largest challenges with CAFM Programs?


  • CAFM or Systems Administrator should be involved in the entire planning process. This person needs to guide the team when discussing reports, challenges with the program, changing space planning procedures, or changing existing software.
  • Some software providers are more generic in the way that reports can be generated.
  • Including IT and HR with keeping the database updated is very important. Challenges occur when other departments are not engaged in the process.
  • Integration of timely data from other systems can be challenging (HRIS list).

How do you retrieve data from CAFM?


This depends on the software. Most of the more advanced CAFM programs can extract the number of offices/ stations per floor, the number of moves per month, and the number of people per building. The CAFM Administrator queries the program.

Key Points:

  1. CAFM is important for space planning and managing locations of employees in the office environment.
  2. This group recommends that a CAFM program can be justified for >100,000 GSF and if office moves occur regularly.
  3. Creating appropriate reports is important to show management what spaces are occupied. This can be done through CAFM or by hand-entry into an Excel document.
  4. The average workstation or office cost in the U.S. is $9,500 per person each year. If you have over 25% vacancy rate for 1,000 people = 250 Vacant Spaces:
    • 250 spaces x $9,500 = approx. $2,375,000 spent on Vacant Space that year
  5. The ability to update data timely and accurately is critical to success.
  6. In an office setting, this group recommends that Move Management should be completed in the CAFM program for <700,000 GSF and if office moves occur regularly.
  7. There was lots of talk about creating a chat room with the team after this. There are many questions that Facilities Managers and Project Managers have about Space Planning and Move Management using CAFM.
  8. If you are going through a large scale growth, CAFM will help with planning spaces.
  9. If you only have virtual spaces or shared desks, CAFM programs are not necessary, since the spaces are not assigned.

Topic: Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Notes submitted by Timon Smith, Vice President, FacilityOne Consulting, Shanghai, China,

Throughout our discussion, we all recognized the value of having a central repository for the built environment. BIM, as it stands now is gaining traction and attention in both the AEC and FM industries and is poised to make a fundamental shift in how we manage the process and data from design to operations.

An example of the success of the concept is HOK, which has standardized on one application of BIM as their standard for all projects. One of HOK's main rationales was to move the decision process for conflict detection earlier in the process.

Despite BIM's success in the market so far, our group analyzed that the same two problems frequently came up and can be summarized as follows:

  1. Comprehensive As-Built model — Currently, it is very difficult for FMs to get an accurate and comprehensive as-built BIM model. The model is often either inaccurate or incomplete and, more often than not, a combination of both. This leads to the Operations team's wasting time and resources performing a complete survey of the assets, systems, space, etc. and building the lists from scratch in order to ensure a complete and accurate list. FM Operations doesn't trust the model as handed to them in its current state.
  2. BIM Model Integration with FM — The systems that the FMs are using have awkward-at-best (although certainly improving) connections with the BIM model. Often times, this leads to a lack of synchronized environments and ultimately a "dead" BIM model. An example is if the BIM model is not updated to reflect the moving of hazmats. This can put people in unnecessary danger if a "dead" BIM model is referenced instead of the "live" CAFM model for such data.

In order to resolve the above two problems, our group concluded that three items should be the main focus points for the BIM + FM industry.

  1. Living Document — The BIM model should be a living document that incorporates all MAC's (Moves-Adds-Changes) in the built environment. The model must not stay static and "gather dust" and should always represent the current state-of-the-building from design to decommissioning. Only then will the Facilities Manager be willing to consult the model for reference. Otherwise, less data-rich formats like flat CAD drawings will still be the main "gold standard" for the living model.
  2. Engage subcontractors — One of the biggest problems encountered, as noted by a government project manager is that subcontractors often don't have the capacity to update the BIM models. The reasons for this abound: lack of resources, emphasis, training, requirements by General Contractors/clients, etc.

    General Contractors, on the other hand, usually have the in-house staff/knowledge but rarely require the subcontractors to use and update the BIM model. Broadly, clients and GCs have to figure out how better to engage subcontractors in order to ensure that the data entered into the BIM model is accurate and comprehensive.

  3. Compliance to Standards — This leads us to the third point. One of the main solutions to the two problems outlined above is to adhere to standards. The question remains as to with which standards one should comply? COBIE, IFC, CIS/2, etc? The industry doesn't seem to have come to a concrete decision yet.

    Secondly, how do we come together as an industry to drive compliance? Public/Private partnerships must bear a significant portion of the weight. These standards should be used to inform the process, model and ongoing operations that may require the CAFM system also to adhere to the standards (some already do). If the subcontractors are going to be required to comply with a set of standards, from where are they going to get the resources to comply?

BIM has a foothold, but in order for it to reach its potential to evolutionize the AEC & FM industries, a number of barriers will have to be overcome.

Topic: CMMS, Benchmarking

Notes submitted by Giselle Holder, Project Engineer, Facilities Management, Acuitas Caribbean Limited, Cascade, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies,

The 20th anniversary of the FM Technology Users Forum brought together 5 persons of different backgrounds and work experiences which ranged from managing hundreds of thousands of square feet to single office buildings located in America and Trinidad and Tobago.

So what is a CMMS?

A CMMS is a Computerized Maintenance Management System. Its primary use is to allow end users to access, sort, track and benchmark information from their facilities against similar ones.

Tips for a first CMMS system

Tip #1: Give yourself choice
Many providers/ suppliers are willing to do in-house demonstrations. Request this and go through as many options as you need. Be comfortable in your choice and in saying "no!"

Tip #2: Ask about training
Training is a huge aspect of the CMMS implementation process as you (the end user) learn the many features your system offers. One of our participants, whose Company is in the process of installing a new CMMS, outsourced the entire implementation of the system. Subsequent training sessions will be held between the FM Team and the providers to eventually facilitate the independent managing and running of the system by the Company.

Tip#3: Begin with the end in mind
This phrase applies to considerations when choosing the most appropriate CMMS model for your Company. For some of us starting off in the world of FM, our overall gross square footage may not be close to the 10,000 mark. However, this square footage may double or even triple in a few years! What do you do then with your CMMS? Can your CMMS be easily upgraded to incorporate more modules to report on these new facilities? This is a risk that you may run into should your current CMMS be a stand-alone version. There is no easy way to upgrade or increase its capacity other than possibly getting a new one. Web-based versions however, allow for the user to begin with the modules that are absolutely essential for them in the early stages and allow for "ramping up" when additional data are needed, when the square footage has considerably increased, and when the FM budget increases to add more modules for better tracking and monitoring.

Tips for "Baby Boomer" systems

What happens when the decision is made to replace that first system? The participants addressed the needs of and provided some tips to the "baby boomers" of CMMS — those on their 3rd, 4th and even higher iterations!

Tip #4: Changing systems does not have to be a chore
The idea of switching over from one CMMS can be a daunting one. There are many areas to be taken into consideration such as: Will your current information be compatible with the new model? How will your users handle the change in interfaces? How much downtime will you experience during the actual handover process?

Some of these questions may require their own discussions. These are some of the more salient questions that should be posed to whoever your new supplier may be. Significant consideration should be focused on any downtimes that may incur since this directly affects your production and certainly your Company's bottom line. Even though costly, options may include running the incoming and outgoing systems in parallel to keep productivity high and to ensure that the new system is working perfectly before turning off the old one.

Tip #5: Benchmark, Benchmark, Benchmark!
So over the years we have collected a vast amount of information on our building's energy efficiency, its maintenance costs, and other systems that we have tracked for both our own knowledge and that of our clients and Company through our CMMS. But what are we doing to ensure that our facility is running at its optimum? Are we even aware of how facilities similar to ours are performing? What are we doing with this wealth of information? Benchmarking is a huge aid to our facilities and their overall progress! IFMA is just one of the many resources that welcomes our data to enhance our building's performance. Gap analysis and review of progress over the years are also some of the highlights of Benchmarking.

There are many other questions and topics that can arise from the few tips presented above. Therefore, we look forward to the use of the FMLink forums ( to dive into them!

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