Software Solutions for the Modern Facilities Manager
With a plethora of software platforms available today, Bryan Christiansen, founder and CEO of Limble CMMS, cautions facilities managers to be vigilant in selecting solutions that meet their operational needs.
Busy facility managers now have access to a wide range of workplace technologies to help them manage their diverse roles regardless of the industry they work in.
However, the last thing that any FM needs is to spend time and money on software solutions that add little or no value to their operations. With that in mind, the following is a discussion about 5 of the most important solutions that a modern facility manager should consider employing on their premises, why they matter, and in which circumstances do they offer the best bang for your buck.
Computer-aided facility management (CAFM) is a software solution designed to facilitate the management of building-related logistical tasks in a digital space. It allows FMs to manage several activities that are key to business continuity. These activities range from everyday tasks like move management, desk space usage or conference room allocation, to more strategic-level management of the overall space usage in an organization.
A CAFM solution is very visual in that it combines computer-aided design (CAD) images with a building’s data. The result is a system that gives its users a user-friendly and comprehensive view of all the assets under consideration.
Key features to look for:
Space Planning and Management. Inbuilt interactive graphics module for easy management, drafting, and modification of building spaces and tracking of equipment location.
Project Management. Management of different aspects of major projects like documentation, design, budgeting, work allocation, etc.
Manage Maintenance and Repairs. Monitoring of preventive maintenance activities and routine repairs.
Real Estate Management. Maintaining all the relevant information about different properties especially as it relates to occupancy, costs, and leasing.
Environmental Sustainability. Monitoring the ecological footprint of buildings by tracking processes like energy consumption and water usage, carbon dioxide emissions, and waste production with a view to making improvements.
Mobile app. It is important that any chosen CAFM solution comes with mobile capabilities so you have access to everything on the go.
When should you use it
Use it to plan the day-to-day operations in busy facilities with multiple users especially where you need to maximise available workspace and coordinate activities like reservations, move management, and re-arranging the physical spaces for different groups of people.
2. CMMS software
Computerised maintenance management system (CMMS), is a software that stores a comprehensive database about an organisation's maintenance operations. CMMS is easily the most popular and widely used maintenance management software solution today. This is largely due to its ability to automate every step of the maintenance process in modern facilities and also keep assets running at peak efficiency.
CMMS is designed for the specific purpose of managing all maintenance-related information so that its users can streamline all maintenance processes. It allows the easy planning and scheduling of tasks, allocating of the required resources for every job, and execution of work in the safest and most cost-efficient manner possible.
Key features to look for in a CMMS
To ensure that you get the highest ROI on a CMMS, look for one with the following features:
Work Order Management. The ability to create, issue, and track work orders from start to finish plus allowing users to create reusable templates with the same instructions for frequently occurring tasks.
Report Generating. Collate vital information and view them in the form of concise reports to gain insights into issues like problem equipment, largest cost centers, maintenance performance, gaps and areas for improvements.
Preventive Maintenance Management. PM features for scheduling maintenance tasks and keeping reactive repairs to the barest minimum. Also, creating PM work orders based on a schedule and consolidating all relevant tasks into a master schedule without any overlap or omissions.
Inventory Control. Continually update spare parts inventory information with a focus on optimum reorder levels, inventory value, and usage.
This pretty much overlaps with the research we conducted in 2018 which looked at the list of most requested features from businesses that were searching for a CMMS at that time:
When should you use it
CMMS is applicable for all kinds of buildings (whether commercial or residential) and in all industries that have any kind of maintenance needs. That being said, it is especially useful for organisations that are struggling with excessive maintenance costs, have a lot of assets to take care of, or have a few expensive assets that need to operate in peak condition. Industries like manufacturing, construction, oil & gas are the main adopters but schools, hospitality industry, campuses, zoos, and similar are no strangers to CMMS solutions.
A building management system (BMS) is a computerised control system that is installed in buildings to monitor electrical and mechanical installations. These installations include power, ventilation, fire fighting, security, and lighting systems.
BMS systems have both hardware and software components that work together to manage a building's energy usage. When installed, they can save up to 29% on energy consumption. They also play a significant role in the comfort and productivity of the building's occupants by managing indoor air quality.
Key features to look for in a BMS
Temperature Control. Keep the temperature constant in boilers.
For HVAC, control fans and dampers, maintain specified temperature and humidity levels, control air handling and fan coil units.
Automate Controls. Switch boilers and lighting on/off following a schedule. Control plumbing and water valves. Control and monitor major electrical and mechanical equipment.
Security. Detect intrusion, control access to the facility, and monitor surveillance.
Fire Fighting. Control smoke from spreading, take immediate action e.g. stopping elevators from running during a fire outbreak.
*Note that although “BMS” is often used interchangeably with “EMS”, they are not the same. An Environmental Management System (EMS) monitors the systems that make up the environment of a facility and then gives you the data you need to make further decisions, while a BMS actively controls these systems.
When should you use it
BMS is quite expensive so it is best suited to effectively monitor energy consumption in very large facilities with high energy loads.
Visitor management software tracks the usage of buildings by visitors and provides information about their whereabouts at any time. They allow users to screen visitors at a central entry point and restrict access to unauthorized people where necessary.
VMS is the modern replacement for the old pen and paper-based visitor registers. It allows building managers to monitor and control visitor access rights from remote locations without issuing physical keys or keycards. In addition, FMs can use it to automate the reception area of busy facilities and improve security and privacy.
Key features to look for in a VMS
Automated Check-In Process. Collect and check visitors’ information at the reception area then grant or deny access. Provide safety and emergency evacuation information for visitors. All this happens with minimal intervention from staff.
Generate Reports. Provide historical data and real-time reports on visitors without violating data privacy regulations.
Mobile-Enabled. Allow real-time notifications or alerts on mobile devices for issues like overstayed visitors or attempted unauthorised entry.
When should you use it
You can use VMS to improve security in facilities like schools, and to quicken the check-in process without errors in busy hotels and other commercial buildings.
5. Productivity Software
A facility manager’s day is typically filled with different activities. But whether it’s small tasks like keeping the floors clean or major maintenance work on building systems, every job requires attention and must be attended to. With productivity software, facility managers can prioritize all their tasks, share information quickly with other staff, and keep track of multiple projects.
Productivity software offers a wide range of functions from the basic software that organise simple to-do lists and daily goals, or set alarms and reminders to the more advanced project management software that can synchronise data between computers, phones, and other mobile devices.
Key features to look for in productivity software
Different Mediums of Data Exchange. It allows users to communicate through text, spreadsheets, or via graphics and presentations.
Reliable and Secure. It keeps all information on the platform secure from unauthorised viewers.
Cross-Platform Flexibility. Compatible with different operating systems.
Mobile-Enabled. Accessible on the web as well as through Android and iOS.
When should you use it
Use productivity software to stay on top of several daily tasks. Also use it to communicate quickly with other staff and people that you need to share information with outside of your CMMS platform.
The above list aims to give you an idea of the most useful kinds of software that modern facility managers can use to keep their work from becoming overwhelming. Hopefully, this information will guide you through the process of selecting the best solutions for your company's needs.