FM IT Solutions: Driving ease of work and profitability
Sadhvi Sabherwal checks out how FSI software solutions deliver vital information to FM professionals and helps them control all FM activities.
FSI is the owner and developer of the Concept range of Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) and Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software. FSI Middle East, the regional subsidiary of the international facilities, property and maintenance management software provider, FSI (FM Solutions) is focused on providing technology-savvy solutions to buildings’ owners, users, in-house facilities management (FM) teams, and facilities service and maintenance organizations across the MENA territory.
Concept systems deliver vital information to FM professionals and integrate numerous functions and complete control of all FM activities under one system. Providing CAFM involves offering consultancy, implementation assistance, training services and a support team to deal with contingency issues.
“FSI is all about FM and maintenance software solutions. A focal point of Concept systems was the provision of an electronic asset register through which the life-cycle of assets could be accessed and understood through systematized mechanisms. FSI’s first generation software was focused around the control of maintenance services, what would be called a CMMS system today; in 1997-98 we introduced the Concept SQL/500 software range which transformed FSI’s software into a true FM software system based upon the latest technology available,” says Adrian Jarvis, General Manager, FSI Middle East.
He continues, “With the ever changing demands placed on us by facilities providers and new technologies, Concept functionality has continued to grow with market needs. This year as we celebrate our twentieth anniversary, our latest generation system is based around internet technologies which harness the power of the web.”
Commenting on the local market here and CAFM’s viability, he adds, “Our software often forms a component of wider FM, asset or maintenance service solution strategy. It’s not just a box that we hand over to the client. Through our team of product specialists, we deliver a streamlined business solution in line with a business requirement. By offering a range of standard, but adaptable, off the shelf software, we provide a flexible toolkit that can be applied equally to a small single user requirement or a portfolio requiring control of multiple services within mixed use properties; both scenarios are common here in the UAE with its many state-of-the-art high-rises. Our approach offers a proven value proposition for the UAE market as it assists in defining and delivering a unified FM strategy across one or more projects and helps cut down labour costs while increasing productivity.”
Understanding Computer Aided Facilities Management software
Concept Evolution is a web-enabled, complete CAFM solution. It can be used to manage a single facility and service line or a diverse property portfolio and multiple facilities’ services from multiple providers. By centralizing data and processes throughout the FM lifecycle, Concept Evolution provides a secure flow of information across locations, divisions, operations, people and projects. It includes a cyclical task register for recording frequency based and scheduled task types for hard and soft services. All such tasks can be automatically defaulted to user defined shift patterns and/or allocated to default or specific days.
Further, through Workflow Lite, Concept Evolution enables automation of e-mail, facsimile and text messaging using an intuitive graphical design interface to map the business rules which trigger messages. Building upon the functionality of Workflow Lite, Workflow Pro includes a standard set or reusable software components (nodes) which enable the automation of business processes and integration of Concept Evolution with other business systems.
“We follow a methodology in delivering our software. It is very important for us that the software fits in with the clients’ needs. We are a solution partner and believe in an in-depth industry-specific approach. Whilst there are nuances in maintaining different kinds of buildings, many aspects of FM as a practice are quite uniform. Until the economic downturn, FM was perhaps not given full recognition in the UAE; service delivery being considered more on the break-fix premise rather than proactively pursued through FM processes,” opines Jarvis.
It is imperative to understand certain concepts as we attempt to integrate IT solutions into the FM set-up. Assets held within a CAFM system can be quite diverse in nature and include building fabric, lighting, air-conditioning, MEP plant, fire and security systems, furniture, fittings, IT and other equipment. Functions within CAFM aid delivery and management of hard and soft services’ tasks by technicians, cleaners, etc. to organization and people who occupy space within a building. FM encompasses management of space use and the services delivered therein. Hence, an FM service-provider needs to ensure that the services are delivered in a timely fashion with proactive performance indicators measuring both quality and quantity related aspect of service. Moreover, all service delivery parameters must fit within set budgets; CAFM software therefore needs to be scalable and flexible in line with the facilities team and client’s needs and must provide for both financial monitoring and service delivery control.
“By investing in CAFM now, organizations could be realizing efficiency savings and getting a return on their investment in the next 12-24 months. We help people and organizations make informed decisions through the use of our software which can also help improve health and safety aspects of task delivery. Intuitive software, a structured database and comprehensive management tools keep the facilities provider and client fully informed and automated processes including e-mails and other such alerts support business processes in an effective manner,” suggests the GM.
In common with other IT systems, a significant element for delivering an effective CAFM solution is the correct implementation of the software. For small or large projects, the deliverables need to be scoped and agreed upon by all stakeholders including significant dates and milestones. FSI follows a defined Project Methodology which includes control elements to ensure that the project is completed in a timely manner and within budget. The key stages are: the system analysis phase, system design phase, production phase, mobilization phase and operational phase.
A step further: SAAS and Digital Dashboard
“We adhere to the ideology of adding value through delivery. It’s all about making informed decisions with the right data. The Middle East has become a tougher and competitive market. With the downturn, people are suddenly left with a structure that has a value, but that value has to be sustained. It means that true FM has come to the fore. For many organizations, the real value of FM software is yet to be realized, but we believe that the time is now good for it. Going a step further is the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS),” says Jarvis. SaaS is a software distribution model which removes
the need for an organization to install and run Concept Evolution within their local infrastructure, thereby removing software maintenance, ongoing operation and support resources and the need for capital investment in server hardware. Herein, Concept Evolution is hosted by FSI in a secure shared infrastructure environment, from where the application is published and made available to the end user over the internet via their web browser, regardless of location. This leads to global accessibility.
“We believe in constant improvement of our software so as to positively impact the FM sector. For example FSI’s digital dashboard provides a real-time, easy-to-understand graphical representation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are defined and tailored as per the client’s requirements,” says the FM specialist.
He elaborates, “Users are given immediate access to relevant metrics to measure asset performance and key business parameters such as top ten assets with highest failure rates, room and space utilization, average time to resolve calls by discipline, etc. at a glance; thus allowing a strategic and a macro approach to facilities and maintenance management. As a single access point for information, this dashboard proves to be an ideal management tool. When combined with other modules within our product suite, such as the property and estates management, projects, quotes, invoicing, stores and orders module, the Dashboard helps to offer property owners, managers and service providers concise information to manage their property portfolios and service delivery more effectively.”
CAFM software drives the bottom line
“In essence, we generate FM tasks and manage the assignment of personnel or sub-contractors to deliver the work against defined service lines whilst recording and documenting time and material performance and costs. CAFM software helps prioritize and control what tasks are to be carried out with the man-hours at your disposal. It allows organizations to proactively manage jobs and to schedule the workforce based on SLAs (Service Level Agreements). CAFM drives efficiency. Key performance indication can be quickly reviewed through the dashboard and also, management information relating to jobs, the costs involved, complaints, outstanding work orders, etc.,” says Jarvis.
He continues, “We provide a clear and consistent user experience with Concept which allows personnel to rapidly adopt and benefit from the system whilst following processes defined by the business. A major benefit of Concept is that through the Workflow module, we can tailor the behaviour of the software in line with a particular organization’s business processes and needs. For example, if a task is allocated a particular status, an escalation can be rapidly communicated to relevant personnel through a flowchart based designed process within the system.”
From an FM service provider’s perspective, knowledge management with the latest advances in technology can assist in a major way in meeting clients’ expectations and executing services in a streamlined manner.
“Our philosophy is to integrate and facilitate the delivery of FM activities through a specialist tool. We help organizations to adopt a consistent approach which is smarter and more efficient through measurement, monitoring and control. Computer Aided Facilities Management software is for those who truly understand the field of FM and how technology can lead to value addition to the entire FM proposition,” concludes Adrian Jarvis.