Rajavel Subramanian, Facilio co-founder and Head of Product, says first generation computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) can simply no longer be considered for purpose.
What if I told you the CMMS you’re using to run your property operations isn’t designed for you at all?
Let me explain. If we go back a few years in history, we’ll notice that the Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) was built in the manufacturing, petrochemical, power generation, construction and similar industries. It was designed to help large industrial enterprises manage assets, resources, labor, work orders, inventory, etc.
Over the next few decades, when office buildings, retail spaces and commercial real estate grew, the archaic industrial CMMS was repurposed to manage these as well.
An archaic CMMS in the real estate industry is like repurposing a slice of bread as a coasterAdvertisement
An archaic CMMS in the real estate industry is like repurposing a slice of bread as a coaster—it may be square and prevent water rings on the table, but it opens up a whole new world of problems! Some of the main ones are:
Not end-customer driven
In the manufacturing industry, CMMS had no need to serve customer experience. It was exclusively for technicians, and it worked. In commercial retail, the end customer is a key stakeholder who is completely missed.
Not designed for visibility
Legacy CMMS is a task-management tool for technicians. So, it provides no value or visibility to the leadership, despite being a treasure trove of maintenance data.
As a system of record for asset information and maintenance management, the archaic CMMS was repurposed for similar purposes in real estate. But for every other need, such as stakeholder engagement, collaboration, collecting feedback, real-time gate pass, portfolio-wide analytics etc., building operations were forced to use point-solutions. The archaic CMMS was not interoperable with any of them.
Archaic CMMS—simply by virtue of being archaic—is heavily labor-reliant. It’s not uncommon for operations teams to have individuals whose sole job is to enter data into the system, update status, and close tickets—all manually. It doesn’t allow for intelligent and intuitive automation.
The archaic CMMS isn’t built for the real estate industry. So, obviously, you’ll need customization to suit your needs. However, the product itself is often not flexible. So, any customization is either impossible or, at best, expensive and time-consuming.
Today’s real estate industry is highly dynamic. Especially since the pandemic, customers/tenants want the flexibility to rent for shorter durations or use as they need. Property owners too want to charge dynamically, offer value-added services and scale the portfolio based on business needs. The archaic CMMS is too stuck in old-world models to accommodate that.
In essence, the CMMS you’re using is old-school technology not designed for your needs. It’s manual, limiting, inflexible, and not agile. This leaves you playing catch up, putting band-aid fixes, and hiring people just to keep your CMMS updated. What you need is radical change.
Commercial real estate has specific and dynamic needs. You have entirely different stakeholders, business goals, workflows and workforce.
Reimagining the CMMS for today’s commercial real estate
Commercial real estate has specific and dynamic needs. You have entirely different stakeholders, business goals, workflows and workforce. Your CMMS needs to serve that. To do that, here’s what your CMMS should look like.
Designed with every stakeholder in mind
End customers, tenants, technicians, operations teams, and business leaders are just a few of the organizational stakeholders that will find use in your CMMS. So, the CMMS should serve them all. It needs to:
- Offer mobile and portal views for tenants, vendors and the workforce
- Augment tenant satisfaction through digitized experiences such as the self-service portal, service requests, feedback and communications, visitor management, etc.
- Facilitate collaboration through a vendor portal, approvals processes, work permits, 3rd party compliance tracking, etc.
- Enable shared and consistent data from all touchpoints
Data-driven platform and real-time analytics
To adapt to the changing needs of the customer and deliver a stellar customer experience, portfolio leaders need:
- Executive reports and dashboards
- Periodic summary emails
- Portfolio-wide benchmarking
- Compliance tracking
Operations teams need
- Equipment repository, maintenance history and lifecycle analytics
- Uptime metrics
- 3D asset views
- Real-time equipment monitoring and analytics
- Fault detection, diagnostics and root cause indicators
- Condition-based and predictive maintenance triggers
- Automated work orders
- Resolution workflows from alarms
Integrations and interoperability
To run efficient operations, teams need more than just information. They need context. And context comes from having a 360-degree view of the entire system. To achieve this, you need:
- A single system of record for service requests, maintenance, work orders, inventory, and asset lifecycle
- API and IoT-driven integrations with tools you use for accounting, financial management, compliance, etc.
- Data normalization from across these platforms to provide a unified and accurate view of the business
- Extensive 3rd party integrations for automation, service catalog, and external URL triggers
Your operations teams can focus on customer experience only when they’re freed from the burdens of keying in repetitive data and statuses into the system. This needs powerful workflow automation but zero coding dependency.
Not all businesses are the same, and neither should your CMMS be. So, even within CMMS, which is designed for real estate, customizability is critical. To meet your unique business needs, your CMMS must include easy-to-configure PM and templates, along with tailored workflows for owners/operators.
To ensure that your CMMS adapts and grows as your business evolves, it needs to be able to handle asset lifecycles that last 60-80 years on average. A cloud-first and easy to scale system is a must.
Talking about their experience of choosing and adopting a CMMS platform during the early days of their project launch, Haithem Ibraheem, Property Operations Manager at ICD Brookfield Place, a 1.1 million sq ft, state-of-the-art office and retail complex in Dubai says, “We chose a completely scalable platform that would allow the scope to accommodate new use cases / innovations.”
In summary, the traditional CMMS isn’t designed for customer experience, collaboration, interoperability, efficiency, automation or insights. To compensate for the incapabilities of the CMMS, property operators grab on to myriad tools and band-aid solutions. Time is ripe for change.
Winning property operations depend, almost exclusively, on the right technological foundation in the form of a functional CMMS to power businesses.