Are you wasting a valuable asset? You can’t see it, you don’t trip on it, but its cost can be substantial. With any other asset, you work hard to make it deliver results for you and senior management would ask why you spent money for nothing.
Yet many Facility and Property Management systems, including CAFM, CMMS, Work Order management and Help Desk systems, aren’t being used to their potential after implementation.
Implementing Property and Facilities Management systems is the most important thing you can do to improve service, reduce costs and preserve your assets, including reducing future costs. The range and flexibility of available systems, including stand-alone, integrated or hosted web based systems, put this capability in the hands of even small organizations.
The business case for implementing a system includes at least four key benefits, however you need to consider the impact on your business process before you decide what system to buy and how to effectively implement your new FM system in your organization.
Simplify Delivery and Process
You can make your end-to-end processes for your service delivery more efficient, less prone to communication errors and more consistent using computerized processes and planning, web based work request entry, automated work flow and even direct dispatch of work orders to contractors or your own staff through handheld devices.
Reduce time and costs
You can get access to important data and information such as the number of work orders by service, floor, department and other characteristics, response times, equipment information, workstation allocations, and more. You can use it to shorten and simplify your capital planning and space planning activity. It can automatically calculate your chargeback charges and eliminate manual processing and manipulation that costs time and money.
Visibility into your operations
You can see what’s going on in your operations with the right system. Track work orders issued, who is doing what activity, see comments on work and know who or which department is absorbing most of your resources. Understand the volume and type of moves and relocations. Track spending on equipment repairs and immediately know whether your legislative compliance requirements are met.
Information for decision making
Since everything is tracked, you can generate reports and access raw data to analyze for patterns and issues that identify areas you need to take action on, building the information you need to decide on key responsibilities such as resourcing, communication, process issues and costs. It can also provide the evidence you need to justify initiatives and build business cases, not to mention benchmark results
Most organizations run into a common problem after they implement. The systems aren’t as easy to use as they first seem and chances are, organizational roadblocks make it even harder. These can include existing processes that make it difficult to integrate into your operations, interfacing it with current systems, organizational design and operational challenges, the effort needed to populate it with accurate information up-front, the cost of maintenance and upgrades, resources to enter information and keep it up-to-date and even resistance from the staff who need to use it.
These problems are magnified when systems are implemented without first understanding why you need the system, what you will use it for and how it will integrate with the rest of your operations, including effective processes and training to ensure your staff buy-in and support the initiative.
You need to recognize and plan for the resources required, provide refresher training, audit the system and the processes after implementation to make sure it’s working as intended and make the appropriate changes to adjust and improve the processes. You may even be collecting too much data or you have installed a system that is too comprehensive and complicated for your needs.
Problems are created when you don’t clearly establish what information you really need and how you will use it to improve your operations. Built-in reports may not be enough. The information you get from your system is the most important feature along with better management of work processes, yet information overload can paralyze you.
If you already have an under-utilized system in place, there are things you can do to get better value from it by going back to square one and fixing the things that aren’t working – and making changes so your system can start working for you instead of against you.
If you haven’t purchased and installed a system yet, there are ways to ensure your new investment will deliver the benefits you expect and the results you need.
In addition to considering the business implications, needs and priorities, you must ensure your overall implementation plan addresses some of the fundamental problems organizations face when they implement new systems. This needs to be in addition to the software implementation process your software consultant or vendor specialize in:
Not enough advance work
Advance work establishes why you need the system, building it into their strategic planning and deciding what they will use the information for, what you need and how to use it for decision making. In addition, you need to clearly and honestly assess your current organization’s ability and willingness to work with the new system. Then you must develop a plan to make it work, including integrating it with your current practices, staffing and resources and then seeking the system that matches.
No selling the idea to staff
You may have sold the idea upwards with a business case and got the money you need to implement a system, but how much effort was spent selling the idea to your staff, showing them the benefits, giving them training, asking them how to build it into their daily schedules and work with them on processes in a way that makes it easy and demonstrates the benefits not only to the organization but also to the staff.
No change management
Most organizations and most staff resist change. Along with everything else, you need to consider the process, communication and personalities you need to deal with and build change management into a flexible implementation plan, along with your complete business process. You may need to counteract pre-conceived notions about systems and weed out those who are roadblocks to success. After all, the software is just one part of implementing a system.
No planning for upkeep and maintenance
Implementing and populating the system in the first place can take a lot of effort, but often the amount of effort it takes to keep it up-to-date and accurate after it’s up and running is ignored. Unless the processes, resources and support needed for this are part of your plan, you may end up with a system and data you can’t rely on.
You can’t introduce something new and then simply let it run on its own. You need to build follow-up into your plan to verify that the systems, processes and resources are working as designed, just like commissioning a new building. This includes revisiting the procedures, conducting a quality control assessment on the data, listening to the staff using the system and then making changes that ensure the system works like you expected it to.
Not using the information
Often, just knowing the information is there seems to be enough for some managers, but unless you use the information, you aren’t getting the best value from your system and very quickly, your staff will start to wonder why they bother feeding the system and your senior management will question your initiative. You need to use the information by analyzing it, communicate what it tells you and make changes as a result. This will clearly demonstrate that it is useful to your decision making and your management of the operations.
Information is the most important ingredient to managing facilities and buildings successfully and getting better results. Without it, you are working blind and relying on inaccurate or misleading anecdotal information, sometimes from staff who have been doing the same thing the same way for years or decades.
To be more successful when implementing a new system, consider these steps:
Before you implement
Decide what your objectives and requirements are before you buy, including what you will do with the information you get from it, and strategically plan for more a business implementation instead of simply a software implementation. This requires assessing your business needs, not just system needs, so don’t only rely on your software consultant or vendor for a successful system implementation.
When you implement
Make sure it’s meeting objectives, by putting auditing and evaluation procedures in place, give your staff training and re-training, educate everyone on its value to promote support and ensure success. Listen carefully to your administration and field staff – their insight will be a valuable addition to your implementation plan.
After you implement
Make sure you use the information it gives you, monitor and tweak processes, re-train your staff, conduct quality assurance on the inputs and continue to sell its value to your organization.
The bottom line is that Facility and Property Management systems aren’t just about the software. They are valuable tools, but you need to put everything in place to make sure the tool is used effectively and isn’t a boat anchor that weighs you down. Instead, a well implemented system should be wind in your sail, moving you forward towards lower total cost, improved efficiency and enhanced service.