CAFM Explorer reporting dashboard. (photo: Idox PLC)
CAFM Explorer reporting dashboard.
29.09.2015, 13:22

White Paper: Facilities Management and CAFM

White Papers & Briefings
Idox, the company behind the popular CAFM Explorer software application, explains why technology provides all the solutions to the challenges facing estates and facilities management teams today.

This study goes back to basics, looking at the current Facilities Management landscape, the challenges and opportunities that Estates Teams face today, and how technology solves these problems and improves the efficiency of the Facilities Department.


The FM landscape

Facilities management contributes to the delivery of an organisation’s strategic and operational objectives and provides a safe and efficient working environment, enabling an organisation to achieve optimal performance. A good workplace makes people feel well, energised, productive and enthusiastic about their work. It will make them want to come to work and perform well once they’re there. A poor workplace, in comparison, frustrates workers, inhibits people’s productivity and can even make them sick. The workplace is also the physical manifestation of an organisation’s brand and many organisations use it to recruit and retain both staff and clients.

In today’s world, facilities management is a global discipline, and a sizeable one. Research from Global Industry Analysts estimates that the market will reach almost $400 billion by 2017, with the UK a quarter of that figure at £106.3 billion.

Facilities managers now have to support the main business of an organisation by managing the services and processes related to the built environment across various sectors - hotels and hospitals, sports and leisure arenas, logistics centres, care homes and educational establishments including primary schools, universities and specialist research laboratories.

Although roles vary widely depending on the type of organisation worked for, FMs typically manage a wide range of areas including risk management, business continuity and sustainability, and are responsible for activities such as building and grounds maintenance, catering, cleaning, environmental services, health and safety, security, space planning, and procurement.

Within small businesses, facilities management may be part of a secretary or office manager’s role. As an organisation grows, it typically develops into a discrete job role. But there comes a time when many organisations look to outsource their facilities management to external experts. Cost reduction, increased efficiency and the expertise, knowledge and support gained from a specialist provider are all key benefits of outsourcing, together with the ability to focus on the organisation’s core business. Outsourcing gives access to the skills and knowledge that will help to reduce expenditure while improving service quality.

The UK market is therefore made up of FM service providers, who can provide a variety of facilities services as an integrated package, together with specialist suppliers of catering, security, cleaning, maintenance and other services. Many organisations still retain the bulk of their FM team in-house, often only sub-contracting the cleaning service.


Challenges and opportunities

However FM is delivered in an organisation, facilities professionals face many challenges. Customers, whether in-house or external, are continually looking to reduce FM expenditure without wanting a commensurate reduction in quality – property and facilities management costs are an organisation’s second biggest expenditure after people. At the same time, the board’s desire for data about the way money is spent in FM is increasing. For the service provider there is also a focus on contract terms with clients pushing service providers to take on unlimited liability and strict performance levels.

Organisations are also increasingly recognising the importance of the workplace, as both a recruitment and retention tool, and also to boost employees’ productivity. Information about the performance of the space and ways in which it can be made to perform better is seen as key.

At the same time, facilities professionals working for international organisations, are faced with the challenge of managing an international property portfolio. Typically this would have been run on a country-by country, or region-by-region basis, but the benefits of pan-European, or even pan-World, FM contracts are fast being realised leaving the FM in the head office country with a burgeoning workload.



As a result many facilities professionals are turning to technology to help to solve these problems. Computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) solutions are used to manage and consolidate information across all facets of FM. CAFM increases the efficiency of the FM helpdesk and improves maintenance planning; provides transparent information around the performance of suppliers and the FM function; optimises the performance of an organisation’s assets from plant to furniture and AV equipment; and improves stock control and the management of bookable spaces. All of this data allows the FM to make cognisant decisions about FM strategy and direction and to create a more cost-effective and efficient service.

For example, if the PPM data revealed that a piece of plant, such as a chiller or boiler, was breaking down regularly and requiring reactive maintenance, the FM would consider whether he needed to invoke the manufacturer’s warranty, look to replace the asset, adjust its PPM regime, or adjust the asset’s workload, perhaps by introducing a second boiler. This type of information is particularly useful for organisations with several sites with similar assets. The reports from the CAFM system can be used to compare asset performance, from city to city or even across several countries.

CAFM allows a facilities team to become more efficient and therefore meet the challenge of reducing costs while maintaining quality. Staff costs are high in the labour-intensive FM industry and therefore ensuring

optimum staffing levels for cleaning, security, catering and helpdesk teams is an important part of cost-control and efficiency. CAFM provides the required data about performance levels to optimise staffing levels. Combined with optical counters to assess washroom or general building traffic, CAFM systems can be used to lean-engineer the facilities provision – providing increased levels of washroom servicing during busy periods, and reassigning resources to other tasks during quieter periods.

In addition by analysing the pattern of calls to the helpdesk, the FM can ensure the correct resources are available to answer calls and then deal with the reactive maintenance query. This data can also be used to ensure the ideal location of any static or mobile maintenance teams to reduce response times and carbon emissions from vehicles.

The availability of meeting rooms, hotdesks, car parking or other rentable spaces is a constant bone of contention in most workplaces, with occupiers complaining that there isn’t enough space, while the FM is faced with numerous no-shows, and under-occupation of spaces. CAFM reports on an organisation’s room bookings reveal which types of meeting facilities are most popular, what times of day and days of the week are the busiest and which departments are using the rooms the most – and, importantly, which teams are guilty of no-shows. This enables the FM to optimise meeting room provision, provides data for future expansion or reduction, reduces wasteful spend hiring external facilities and provides accurate recharging.

An organisation is only as good as its supply chain, and CAFM systems enable facilities professionals to constantly monitor the performance of their contractors through live reporting on a dashboard against service level agreements and key performance indicators. This facilitates any necessary adjustment of the service, and also provides data for any penalties for non-performance, or rewards for exceptional performance, particularly in private finance initiative or gainshare contracts.

Organisations’ general thirst for data is easily satisfied through CAFM. Bespoke reports about a facility – for example energy consumption in particular buildings, or number of helpdesk calls etc – can be automatically produced at certain times of a month without the need for human intervention. This can be set up to support specific requirements. Others can be generated at the touch of a button with graphical illustrations and bespoke fields and terminology, saving the facilities professional hours of slaving over a hot spreadsheet.



CAFM systems enable FMs to reconsider the way in which they manage and operate facilities and to optimise the property portfolio to best effect. It allows the performance of service providers to be measured in real-time against KPIs, providing complete performance transparency to support service improvement and accurate calculation of rewards and penalties. This gives the business complete financial control and visibility, leading to cost savings and further efficiencies. The sheer pervasiveness of the information available through CAFM systems and the way that data can now be captured, transmitted and shared, is constantly revolutionising the FM industry.

Why choose CAFM Explorer?

Substantial experience

Experience counts and CAFM Explorer has been at the forefront of Computer Aided Facilities Management since its inception. All elements of the CAFM solution deliver real value for organizations that operate facilities and infrastructure, being developed with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by facility managers at an operational and strategic level.

Proven solution

Used to manage more than a billion square feet of space, in over 48 countries, and in multiple sectors, CAFM Explorer is proven as a solution that meets the core needs of facility managers.

Comprehensive and scalable

A key advantage of CAFM Explorer is the feature-rich base of applications ready for immediate use across each aspect of facility management, from dealing with the ‘hard’ services often carrying significant impact on a financial, operational and legal basis, to the everyday ‘soft’ service requirements. Use of the functionality can be expanded as required and scaled up for unlimited facilities or portfolios.

Flexible delivery

The product is highly flexible to modern working patterns, offering centralized control with access through a web interface to allow distributed working and connectivity with on-site engineers. Options also extend into operating structure with CAFM Explorer offered as a secure web-based hosted service, via the CAFM Explorer OnAir application, if users want to minimize physical infrastructure. This flexibility offers customers a solution that fits best with the level of ownership and management preferred.

Continual market focused development

The product has been continually developed resulting in an application that is intuitive for operators and a powerful tool for managers to understand and control their facilities. Becoming part of Idox in 2012 has led to further development of the product and the potential benefit of integration with Idox project software to provide a solution meeting all aspects of current and future asset management.

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