How to Choose a CAFM System

Three steps to select the ‘right fit’ FM software

Three steps to select the ‘right fit’ FM software

Investing in a CAFM system can be an expensive and high stakes undertaking, and the range of options on offer can seem complex and confusing.

With FM software it’s often hard to understand exactly what you’ll need - and practically impossible to try before you buy.

But make the wrong choice now and your selected software could end up unused and unloved by your team - a waste of time, money and procurement effort.

This guide will show you how to:

STEP 1: DEFINE your business and stakeholder needs  

STEP 2: DELIVER the right CAFM to empower your FM team

STEP 3: SUPPORT them as they take your business to the next operational level

Feeling the strain?

The last few years have accelerated the unstoppable disruption of the workplace. Digitisation, flexible working, tightening regulation, and now a global pandemic have all dramatically changed the way we operate and what we expect from our buildings.

Businesses are rapidly reconfiguring their working practices and offices to keep pace, while Facilities Managers are under intense pressure to respond to fast changing priorities.

But many teams have been slow to adopt the digital tools they need to deliver on these challenges:

  • Teams and budgets are still organised and managed via Excel and Outlook
  • Data and documents are stored across competing platforms and applications
  • Work orders are managed by phone call and email
  • Oversight of people and procedures is restricted
  • Compliance data is fragmented and difficult to locate

The result is serious operational inefficiency, increased stress and risk of H&S failures and fines.

At the same time, the C-Suite is demanding new levels of accountability and strategic insight from their FM function.

Spreadsheets and email aren’t cutting it as organisational tools anymore.

Facilities Managers are increasingly asking if CAFM systems are the answer.

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What’s a CAFM system? CAFM systems (computer-aided facilities management) are software solutions that help companies digitally manage various FM functions through a single platform. CAFM centralises all your FM operations and reporting. They consolidate key FM data, driving insight, strategy and continual improvement. They can improve and automate reactive maintenance and PPM strategies, while extending digital control over contractor, compliance, property and asset management.

If CAFM is so good - why is uptake so poor?

That’s a good question. FM software has been around for years, but only a fraction of businesses are actually using them - or using them to their full potential.

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1. “Why Automation & Facilities Operations need to work together” - Future Proof conference 2019, Dubai
2. “What are the most common failures in CMMS implementation?”
3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705816004641
4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705816004641 

What’s the problem?

There are literally 100s of competing FM software solutions on the market today, all promising to streamline FM processes and bring order to the chaos. It’s hard to choose between them and easy to make the wrong decision based on cost pressures or inflated promises of new functionality.

What’s more, too many FMs have been burnt by CAFM before - complicated, sprawling systems that cost tens of thousands of pounds and take months to install. They may have seen implementations that ended in failure and wasted money. They may have seen an FM team lose authority and budget on the back of a failed project.

Given all this maintaining the status quo may seem the easier option rather than face the cost and disruption of an unsuccessful installation.

What’s wrong with CAFM software?

  • Too Complicated - Expensive, tech heavy solutions can take months to install and require extensive training to learn how to use. They may come with IoT integrations and AI applications that promise to revolutionise the way you work, but they can just elongate delivery times, while you lose the appetite for change.
  • Inflexible - Big ticket solutions may not offer the flexibility you need as you address your specific business challenges. A large, global software supplier may not be interested in changing the way their systems work to accommodate one client.
  • No Support - Meanwhile, smaller scale, more DIY solutions without dedicated account management teams, can leave users with nothing but a software package, a monthly fee and not much else in the way of support.
  • Hard to Use - Usability can be a huge hurdle for the internal uptake of CAFM software. Many offerings are focused on features and functionality at the expense of UX (user experience). You should beware of any systems that require significant training for your team before they can be used. Amazon, Facebook and LinkedIn don’t require extensive training for their users, and neither should a CAFM interface.

Here’s the good news.

But CAFM systems are changing. There are new systems coming on to the market which are focusing on mobile technology and user interfaces to make their systems quicker to learn and easier to use.

They’re helping companies win engagement in every part of their business and supply chain so they can get the best and most reliable data to optimise performance.

Invest in what counts.

So, how do you choose a CAFM system that can rapidly deliver on your urgent FM priorities to secure early ROI?

How do you cut through that noise and understand what functionality you really need to make a difference to your bottom line.

How can you implement a system with minimum disruption, that the whole business can get behind and benefit from?

Three steps to choosing a CAFM system

To make the right choice you need to find a partner that will help you:

  • STEP 1 – Define your needs

  • STEP 2 – Design a system that answers those needs

  • STEP 3 – Support you as your business evolves

I have seen people spend millions of pounds on a system like SAP and introduce complexity and go backward. And I’ve seen people spend a few thousand pounds on an off the shelf package and actually revolutionise their operation."

Nadeem Ashraf, Head of Planning and EAM, Tesco

Want a copy to take away?

Read the full FM Guide: How to Choose a CAFM System

Learn how to select and implement a system with minimum disruption, that the whole business can get behind and benefit from. And make sure you only pay for what you need.

How-to-choose-a-CAFM-system-Cover

Step 1

Define your needs

Here’s the most important question. What are you trying to fix?

First, some bad news

There is no CAFM silver bullet, no single ‘off the shelf’ answer to everyone’s FM challenge. This means you need to get specific.

What’s more, different organisations will be at different stages of the journey towards the transformation of their FM capabilities.

You need to think about where the gaps in your operations are right now. What do you need urgent help with? And what are the challenges you’ll need to tackle as you continue to grow?

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Start by auditing your FM processes - identify gaps and weaknesses that are impacting your customer service and efficiencies, preventing strategic oversight and risking compliance.

Your FM digital transformation

Where are you on your road map and what are your roadblocks?

Roadmap svg

a) Digital Transformation

Some organisations are looking to take their first steps to replace paper systems or use digital tools to more effectively streamline operations.

Roadblocks to digital transformation:

  • No business case and senior management approval
  • No confidence in contractor engagement
  • Lack of skills in-house to support mobilisation

Without a single facility management software solution, service delivery is fragmented and strategic oversight is limited.

The result:

  • You’re missing deadlines and remedial actions
  • Poor comms management leading to more mistakes
  • Chaotic document storage with Excel, Outlook, & multiple shared drives
  • Fragmented data
  • Wasted time
  • Duplicated effort
  • Increased compliance risk

b) Implementing FM software and help desk solutions

Some businesses are further down the road, attempting to implement integrated help desk software and contractor management features to bring their processes under control.

Roadblocks to implementation:

  • Configuration is unexpectedly complex
  • Usability is poor - interfaces are clunky and difficult to use
  • Uptake - teams don’t like it and aren’t using it

Solutions that are over-complicated and hard to use can end up stalling FM transformation altogether.

The result:

  • Training is hard - teams are losing interest
  • Software may not work on mobile and tablets
  • Teams are finding workarounds to avoid using the system
  • Data is lost between the gaps
  • Business is not seeing a quick ROI
  • Transformation is stalled

c) Automating processes

Further down the line, teams want to automate FM business processes such as Planned Preventative Maintenance and compliance projects.

Roadblocks to automation:

  • Tools for workflow automation management are clunky or non-existent
  • The work order data points and configuration have been badly defined
  • No open API or available data hooks to integrate other systems with

More automation is needed to streamline operations, but existing CAFM solutions are proving difficult to configure and customise to meet specific needs.

The result:

  • Teams are frustrated with their digital tools
  • Maintenance work is delayed and deadlines missed
  • Processes can’t be easily customised
  • Projects are backed up
  • More time is being spent administering the system than delivering services
  • CAFM is not supporting changing business and compliance needs
  • Double handling of data to sync other key business systems e.g. accounting

d) SLA Management

Organisations need to track and optimise SLA performance and use data more proactively to drive operations.

Roadblocks to automation:
  • Suppliers are not engaged with the platform •
  • SLA performance results aren’t clearly visualised •
  • The supply chain is too large to manage SLA data is critical for analysis and optimisation of supply chain, but you have limited reporting capabilities
The result:
  • You are unable to track supplier performance
  • You’re unable to compare supplier performance
  • You’re paying for non-service and missed SLAs
  • Lack of visibility and control is preventing optimisation and meaningful performance analysis
  • ROI from CAFM is slow to emerge

e) Data and Trend Analysis

At this stage organisations need more data on-demand to optimise performance and reporting

Roadblocks to analysis:

  • Data is spread across multiple platforms
  • Data insight requirements not taken into account when importing data and configuring the system
  • ’Unstructured data’ lies unexploited in the system

Data has the potential to reveal commercial and strategic opportunities, but it is frustratingly out of reach

The result:

  • Your operations are reactive rather than proactive
  • Teams struggle to plan budgets and stick to them
  • Time is wasted in downloading and manipulating data
  • The business is often waiting for insight
  • Fragmentation prevents joined up thinking
  • You’re missing commercial opportunities

f) Smart Capital Deployment

Businesses need to start driving long term value from collected data. They need to proactively control costs, monitor budgets and make data driven decisions around asset management and capex projects.

Roadblocks to deployment:

  • The digital tools for building an asset register are not intuitive, mobile friendly or productive to use
  • The system is not triggering the users for asset data management at the right time in the workflow
  • The engineer mobile user experience doesn’t lend itself well to easy and seamless asset handling

Without the tools to see trends and monitor the performance of assets over time, long term maintenance and investment spending can’t be projected and controlled.

The result:

  • Lack of strategic insight for capital deployment
  • Long term Capex budgets are driven by guesswork
  • Maintenance budgets are flawed and difficult to control
  • Strategic contribution from FM is not maximised
  • The overall maintenance spend is not fully optimised

Define your key stakeholders’ needs

Solving problems like these requires a view from across your organisation.

Perhaps it is easier to think about the outcomes that will define success for teams in different parts of the business, to ensure you develop a more holistic solution.

When you are defining and specifying your software needs, listen to the people who will use the end product. This includes both internal and third party users. Without answering their specific challenges, adoption is likely to be restricted. It’ll be hard to take control and realise the required ROI.

Who needs what? What different stakeholders want from a CAFM system:

Board of Directors:

  • Uptime and business continuity
  • Great service
  • On budget
  • Saving money
  • Reducing risk

Finance

  • Full cost visibility
  • Costs in sync between CAFM & Accounting
  • Efficient PO and billing processes

Facilities & Estates

  • Full visibility
  • Efficient processes & saved time
  • Remaining compliant
  • SLA performance
  • Monitor spend vs budgets
  • Tight control of costs and ways to save money
  • Ability to develop and maintain an asset register
  • Asset based budgeting
  • Data consolidation

Helpdesk & Operations

  • Full visibility
  • Efficient processes & saved time
  • Improved communications
  • Ensuring contractor SLA performance
  • Delivering great service, safely and on-time
  • Easy way to manage compliance documentation
  • Easily identify invoices that should be audited
Contractors
  • Simple way to receive work
  • Simple way to manage comms
  • Simple way to provide quotes
  • Simple way to see PO’s and invoice

Internal Maintenance

  • Easily see assigned jobs
  • Let everybody know when jobs start and complete
  • Simple user experience - must be mobile friendly
  • See full issue details and asset history to help with first- time fixes

FMs looking to adopt facilities management software should carefully consider all their stakeholders’ needs. It may help to draw up a list of MOSCOWs (a list of things the software must, could, should and would solve for in an ideal world). This will help prioritise what you want to achieve from a purchase.

Requirements will differ between organisations. List them all, identify the gaps in your performance and size them up against what’s on offer.

Step 2

Design your solution

Now it’s time to get recommendations from your network and start researching potential partners so you can pull together a short list of suppliers.

What can a CAFM system do for you?

CAFM systems can offer a range of functionality that solve specific business challenges for different stakeholders. They can present powerful, practical solutions for entrenched operational problems.

In your search for a supplier you should consider how system’s features and functionality address the specific gaps in capabilities you’ve identified.

You should be able to see how their benefits could be experienced and measured by your company as a whole - and how they could contribute to your wider business goals.

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Here are some of the areas that many FM teams struggle with - and the kind of CAFM solutions that can help.

Improving customer service

The problem:

Maintenance management is poorly coordinated and customers are poorly served - you are often stretched and struggling.

What to look for in a CAFM

Look for work order requests that work harder:

  • Dedicated work request portals
  • Mobile first design
  • Photos and video upload of issues
  • Notifications and reminders to keep customers in the loop
  • Structured data capture - get the right details first time

Look for seamless digital work order management:

  • Custom workflows that make sense to the maintenance request
  • Easy contractor service mapping for more efficient service and quote requests
  • Track and monitor work orders to keep projects on track
  • Better data capture to reduce the need for updates
  • Remedial actions that don’t fall through the cracks
  • Eliminate duplicate work orders
  • Increase first time fixes through better communication and information management

Optimising supplier performance

The problem:

Contractors and engineers are managed in an ad-hoc way, you are not always getting value for money.

What to look for in a CAFM

You need tailored and personalised contractor portals that increase control

  • Optimised for all browsers/devices
  • Mobile first engineer interfaces with ‘finger friendly’ design
  • Easy way to accept service requests, submit quotes, push PO numbers and submit costs
  • Intuitive summary dashboard that directs suppliers to the next important action
  • Simple way of handling single and consolidated invoices
  • Simple ways of tracking engineer time and attendance, both in real-time or retrospectively
  • Share before and after pictures or videos and upload job sheets

Look for SLA management tools to help FM optimise supplier performance

  • Maintain high levels of service - monitor performance by contractor & engineer
  • Visualise data in SLA dashboards to compare contractor performance by KPI (response time, time to attend, first time fix etc)
  • Fix issues and direct future work to top performing partners

Reducing risk - improving compliance and H&S management

The problem:

Keeping control of compliance is a challenge - you need to stay on top of statutory obligations or risk possible H&S breaches, audit failures and fines.

What to look for in a CAFM

You need dedicated compliance tools:

  • A central repository for all your compliance documentation
  • ‘At a glance’ overview of the status on key compliance tasks (showing planned, in progress and overdue)
  • Auto-receive and send reminders over late visits or expiring documents
  • Bulk management of your contracts and planned schedules to save significant time administration time
  • Document management and control maintains an ‘audit ready’ system
  • A way of clearly recognising remedial action and carrying these out on time without requirements falling through the cracks

Look for health and safety management features

  • Mobile walk arounds - interactive surveys for more efficient reporting
  • Online incident reporting tool, with full audit history
  • Tie your incident reports to instant remedial action and manage through to completion

Reducing risk

Controlling costs

The problem:

Costs are increasing and hard to control - revenue leaks are invisible. You need to proactively reduce the costs of reactive maintenance through smart workflow management that collects the crucial data points you require to actively demonstrate ROI.

You need more control over assets and contractors through a centralised tool.

What to look for in a CAFM

You need tools that actively help you control costs:

  • Contractor rate management - understand how much you expect to pay for labour by the hour, or even by the minute •
  • Mandatory visit logs - understand when Engineers were on site and what parts they used •
  • Intelligent cost audits - ability for the system to recognise when costs should be audited e.g. duplicate call-out fees, exceeded spend limits, unauthorised time spent
  • Asset warranty flagging - avoid unnecessary maintenance costs and allow the system to let you know
  • Avoid duplicate work orders - the system should easily spot duplicates by matching strings of well-structured data
  • Avoid payment for non-service - why pay for an emergency call-out if the engineer didn’t arrive on time?
  • Photos - evidence the work has been satisfactory completed

Look for tools to create and maintain a digital asset register:

  • Keep assets’ status, condition & data readings all up to date in one location
  • Allow engineers to update each asset’s records in simple actions
  • Provide a full breakdown of an asset’s history
  • Monitor spend vs lifetime value of your assets
  • Determine when is the optimal time to replace

Oversight

The problem:

You are not efficient as an organisation. You can do better, but you need the right data.

What to look for in a CAFM

You need access to real-time, custom & visual dashboards and reports:

  • See spikes or abnormal stats
  • Track budget vs spend
  • Flag emerging trends
  • Reveal commercial and strategic opportunities

How to narrow down your shortlist

The discovery process so far has been about identifying urgent business needs and beginning to specify requirements. It should have helped you identify vendors with the offerings and reputation that seem like the‘right fit’ for you.

When it comes to FM software you often don’t know what you’re capable of managing better until you’re presented with a solution for it.

Fiona Happiness - Head of Facilities Management, UKTV

Now it’s time to explore the systems of shortlisted suppliers in more detail.

When you’re narrowing down your search for a CAFM partner there are four key areas to focus on which will ensure a supplier can deliver what you need:

• Integration
• Usability
• Configuration
• Flexibility

Focus on integration

In an ideal system, different modules should feed into a single reporting system, powering day to day operations while making data available in real time to drive future decision making.

Connectivity and ecosystem:

how can a CAFM sit at the heart of your operations?

Connectivity and ecosystem

Integration

You should investigate exactly what software integrations are supported by your chosen system, the configuration options available (bespoke or open APIs) and any extra costs or time scales involved in their delivery.

For maximum scalability be sure your chosen CAFM has the capability to integrate into your ecosystem. For instance, integrating into accounting, purchase order or ERP systems are important in order to sync up financials. You may also be interested in integrating BMS (Building Management Systems) in order to auto-trigger work order requests when equipment fails or issues are recognised. In the long term, as sensor tech becomes more prevalent in the workplace, having the flexibility to quickly integrate with new systems will allow you to maintain a competitive advantage.

An absolute necessity for a Facilities Manager is to:

• Take control of your financials

• Monitor your spend

• Control your budget

Although it might not be your first priority, in time it will be vitally important that purchase order requests and invoices are imported into your accounting software and kept in sync. That way, you’ll be able to provide management information and reports that are aligned with your core accounting system.

Focus on usability

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Your chosen software should require minimal training to get up and running, or it risks going unused by the business as a whole. If it’s a pain to useand does not seem to actively add value, then teams will quickly find workarounds to shortcut the system.

Make it Mobile first

The tools that any CAFM system offers should reflect the needs of the people using them.

If a contractor or engineer portal is not built to be used ‘on the go’ and in the field, it’s not fit for purpose.

Busy, ‘hands on’ FMs may need access to their work order management tools from their tablets and mobiles, as much as they do their laptops.

Making it mobile - what to look for in contractor and engineer tools

Making it mobile

A mobile first navigation should ensure nothing is more than a few clicks away. It should deliver forms that collect more structured data upfront to capture required information first time, every time.

Native mobile functionality like photos, videos and geo-location can make it quicker and easier for users to upload required data as they make work order requests, compile asset registers and conduct H&S walkabouts.

This in turn will improve the level of user satisfaction, increasing uptake of the solution across the business.

Focus on configuration

The ability to configure settings by a non-IT specialist is a high priority for companies with limited tech resources available.

When you’re looking at a solution, consider how much of the set up is likely to be bespoke and in the backend.

Consider how long will it take to get the system up and running? At the more complex end of the FM market, months’ long installations are not uncommon, while some DIY solutions will simply charge you a license fee and let you get on with it.

Look for self serve features

Look for self serve features

Data Portability:

  • The system should make it as easy to manage the data upload and porting process
  • It should give you step by step guidance to prepare and upload files.
  • Some CAFM vendors charge fees for cleansing, consolidating and importing data on your behalf.
  • Check what support will be available to walk you through the steps if you hit a snag

Data management:

  • What processes and steps are involved to keep your system up to date?
  • Can you change records individually and via bulk uploads?
  • Will the system automatically validate and verify your data imports for you?
  • Easy data management of PPM schedules and work orders are essential
  • Can you bulk edit your contracts, start dates, scheduling intervals, assignments, instructions etc without having to revert to Excel?

Data insights:

  • The system should offer configurable data dashboards so that users can see and analyse trends in real time.
  • SLA data should include first time fixes, time to fix and budget vs spend
  • You need ‘big data’ for asset lifecycle management - to help you identify problematic equipment, increase efficiency, improve facilities and budgeting
  • Granular reporting will help track in detail how successful you are in driving efficiencies and hitting agreed KPIs.
  • Data can help form the basis of your future CapEx recommendations & justify the way you are using budgets

Data integrity:

  • Is the system GDPR compliant?
  • Does the supplier have ISO 27001 certification?
  • Are they working to the ISO standards?

Three killer reporting dashboards

Every Facilities Manager should have access to

There are 3 killer reporting dashboards you should be looking for in a CAFM, which will help you answer hundreds of strategic questions.

Designed well, these reports will give you the insight you need to help you manage your facilities operation at a strategic, data driven level:

1. Work Order Demand Report

Why?

  • Visualise the volume of requests over time
  • Great for trend analysis e.g. where is your volume or spend by category / contractor / site
  • Ability to deep dive quickly in a matter of clicks. Find the devil in the detail

Features to look out for:

  • Real-time
  • Mobile friendly
  • Date range
  • Multiple and configurable filters
  • Volume and spend
  • Visual elements
  • Data tables for drill down data

2. Service Performance Dashboard

Why?

  • Visualise how you and your suppliers are performing
  • Aggregated SLA and KPI performance
  • Ability to benchmark performance across the board and quickly recognise underperforming suppliers or resources

Features to look out for:

  • Real-time
  • Mobile friendly
  • Date range
  • Multiple and configurable filters
  • Time to Respond
  • Time to Attend / Fix
  • First time fix
  • Monitor system usage by suppliers
  • SLA breakdown by your service priorities

3. Spend Report

Why?

  • Gives you the ability to control your costs and manage your budgets effectively
  • Visualise spend vs budget
  • Breakdown spend by work order type or cost code which otherwise would be done in your accounting platform
  • Ability to make conscious decisions to manage your budget e.g. deferring non- essential work for later months

Features to look out for:

  • Real-time
  • Mobile friendly
  • Date range
  • Multiple and configurable filters
  • Breakdown of work order accruals, committed and approved spend
  • Variance vs budget
  • Visual in graph format by financial period
  • Breakdown of spend by Category, Contractor and Site

“I think it’s increasingly important that CAFM systems are not just seen as a small operational tool, but more as an overarching provider of data and intelligence “

Phil Singleton, Head of Corporate Real Estate, Swiss RE

Focus on flexibility

You need a CAFM partner who can be flexible and responsive to your changing needs.

Many CAFM products are set up to be packed with advanced functionality from day one. This can be a shock to the system for some organisations who will need intensive training to start using all the features they’ve been given.

Being overwhelmed by complexity is a common reason for teams to abandon their CAFM and find shortcuts and workarounds to avoid engaging with it.

Only 6-15% of organisations are using their facility management system to their fullest capabilities.

Other teams are more than ready to ‘hit the ground running’. These teams want to quickly ramp up and use new functionality, but find a lack of support and flexibility from their software and vendors as they try to do so.

Consider a phased release for maximum impact

The approach you take to releasing a CAFM can have a dramatic effect on levels of uptake and success.

Some businesses prefer a ‘waterfall approach’ to release. This entails designing, then delivering an entire end to end FM solution in ‘one go’.

• Requires more training and preparation before go live

• Lengthy lead times can risk losing internal support

• Takes longer to see ROI from your investment

• Changing everything all at once can cause internal confusion

The alternative is to go live in stages, to realise rapid control of key FM functions and start seeing ROI as early as possible. This agile approach allows you to:

• Release in phases to selected teams/locations

• Launch with a basic set of features

• Add new functionality in sprints

• Optimise each release to improve performance as you go along.

The advantage of working this way is that you can use data and insight acquired in each stage of a phased roll out to direct your next steps and optimise your strategy.

Seeing real time improvement of KPIs emerging in the stats on the basis of actions taken, can help justify further investment in ‘next level’ features.

Waterfall Vs Agile - a phased release can bring early success

Waterfall process

Agile Process (example)

Key points for a successful CAFM design:

• Be sure that your chosen CAFM partner will work with you to map your needs and design a solution that fits your unique requirements.

• Focus on integration, configuration and usability for maximum impact

• It shouldn’t take months (or even weeks) to set up the system and train workers how to use it.

• Choose a system that can become a ‘single source of truth’ for your whole business - supporting day to day operations and your strategic overview

Step 3

Support

How to choose a partner, not a supplier

It’s not enough to just supply the software, you need to find a vendor who can give you the level of support that matches your needs.

If you do not have any support technically in-house, then it’ll be important to choose a package with strong configuration and technical support included.

What happens if there’s a problem? Do you need to raise a ticket online, or do you have a dedicated account manager at the end of the phone?

Are you on your own until it comes to your annual renewal? Will you get the personal attention you need to optimise and strategise for more long term benefits?

And then, there’s the costs.

The commercials

How much does a CAFM system cost?

This is the really big question and you should have a clear view of what’s included in the cost before you commit. Many CAFM vendors will offer different tiers of service depending on the size of your facilities operation, the features and support you require.

Setup

Initial configuration costs may vary from £100s to £10,000s

Complex installations can take months to complete

But they may offer little in the way of flexibility for your individual needs

Typically includes:

  • System setup 
  • Configuration 
  • Data migration 
  • Training

Other considerations:

  • What are the integration costs for 3rd party systems
  • Is this a fixed fee?
  • Will this include a discovery to ensure all requirements are explored and covered?
  • How many training sessions will this include?
  • How long will you have access to the vendors project / mobilisation team?

Licenses

Basic entry level packages start at £100 per month but can rise to £1000s

Costs can quickly increase if you add new team members, sites or new suppliers

Typically includes:

  • Access for all your users
  • Standard support package
  • Platform updates and bug fixes

Other considerations:

  • Does this cover you for new platform releases and support?
  • How often are releases?
  • Are you limited to the number of users, properties or contractors you can create?
  • Are there hidden charges or access to modules not included?
  • Does this include reporting tools?
  • What are the costs for additional licenses? Is this a tiered pricing model?
  • Does this include data storage? If so, how much?

Support

Free account management support may be restricted to a number of hours per month

‘DIY platforms’ may offer little or no AM support

Typically includes:

  • 24/7 critical support •
  • X amount of hours per month •
  • Used for general support, consultancy, guidance and training
Other considerations:
  • Do hours roll over?
  • Are there additional charges when support is exceeded?
  • What are the service level agreements for requests?
  • Does the support include phone as well as email support?
  • How long is the support contract?
  • Are there additional tiers or levels of support to consider?

Professional Services

Extra support beyond initial configuration and standard AM is likely to cost you

Check a supplier can offer help with bespoke configuration tasks

Typically includes:

  • Bespoke arrangement, driven by the client •
  • Examples include bespoke reporting, data management and integration support
Other considerations:
  • What’s the minimum term or commitment for these services?
  • How long are you locked in for?
  • Are the day rates cheaper for longer term commitment?

Costs are often advertised as a monthly or annual license fee, which usually include a certain number of ‘seats’. But most operators will charge a set up cost to configure the system before you can start using it.

After that, as with most SaaS, hidden charges can often make reasonable sounding deals escalate quickly in price. Understanding the cost structure up front and what level of support ‘comes as standard’ will prevent any misunderstandings.

We recommend you choose a partner who can flex with you during times of need. In order to realise the true ROI of the platform, reap the full benefit and keep up momentum - choose a partner with not only a great product, but people you can work with and act as an extension to your team.

Find the right cultural fit

Above all, you need to know how the partner you choose will cluster around you to solve the challenges that you are facing now - and those you’ll need to address in the future.

Some companies may want to choose a more heavy weight supplier with a mature product because it feels like you’re buying the ‘best in breed’, or, at least, a stable and tested solution.

However, there is a danger that these vendors won’t be able to offer you the flexibility you need as you address your specific challenges - and you’ll simply ‘get lost’ among their client list.

If you’re looking to work closely with a supplier to optimise your approach, you may wish to select an agile partner who can be more consultative and collaborative as your needs evolve.

Understand their road map

Whichever way you go, you should be looking for a reliable and experienced guide to take you on your journey.

• Can you see evidence that the vendor is committed to a programme of continuous improvement and innovation?

• Will advances in AI and its potential for delivering better, more predictive FM be in the mix?

• Do you have the confidence that as your demands increase, the system can change and scale up with you? Will your partner take into account your feedback and feature requests?

What are the vendor’s credentials?

A brief internet search will tell you there are over 200 FM software solutions of all shapes and sizes being sold on the market today.

What makes one vendor more credible than another?

Look at the composition of the team. Has the solution been created by FM professionals?

Do they have specific experience of working in the FM world as well as excellent software development credentials?

How many years’ experience does the company have in the business? How many customers do they have and what’s their retention rate?

What’s their story and their beliefs about the market that makes them unique and drives their development road map.

Who are their customers?

It’s important to see how their software is currently being used in the real world. Who are the existing customers and what sectors are they in?

Are they dealing with the same challenges as you and achieving proven success with the software? What are the lessons of their implementation that you can learn from them?

Testimonials should be available. If you can, try and arrange to actually talk to their clients about their experience of working with them.

Who are their customers?

4. How to make your CAFM system a success

Your CAFM will be a success if it gives you the operational controls you need, while empowering your team with the data and insight that can help you deliver on wider business objectives.

For this, it needs to be highly usable and sit at the heart of your organisation as a ‘single source of truth’.

Visibility & Control

by consolidating all data, comms and presenting a birds eye view of the entire operation

Improved Service

by automating processes, being collaborative, proactive and performance managing the supply chain

Reduced Risk

by dynamically scheduling compliance tasks, automating communication and receiving alerts of any breached services

More Strategic

by adopting a data-driven strategy that reduces spend and supports the overall business objectives

Reaching this level of usage and support in an organisation is the way in which a CAFM can shift from being simply an operational tool to a business insight platform in its own right.

How to keep the faith

But to get to this stage, you will need to overcome the organisational hurdles that can hamper success.

When results are slow to emerge it can cause interest and support to vanish across an organisation.

The right vendor should be there at every stage to help you analyse and use the data to drive decision making about optimisation and where to focus resource next.

In these early stages of implementation, it’s vital that you’ve got their support to keep tweaking and improving your approach, to improve results.

The CAFM vendor you choose should be an active source of help to keep your team on track and focused on meeting the overall goals of the project.

If 70% of FM software implementations fail - that’s not always down to the systems, it’s going to be down to the lack of aims and objectives, a lackof senior management commitment, or a lack of change and programme management”

Nadeem Ashraf - Tesco

7 vital steps to choosing the right CAFM system

1 Set your goals

2 Understand each stakeholder’s needs

3 Pick a partner with relevant and strong credentials

4 Be clear on the features required and what problems they solve

5 Pick something modern, flexible, that can integrate

6 Understand what levels of support you’ll need and what you’ll get

7 Choose a partner and not ‘a supplier’

Want a copy to take away?

Read the full FM Guide: How to Choose a CAFM System

Learn how to select and implement a system with minimum disruption, that the whole business can get behind and benefit from. And make sure you only pay for what you need.

How to choose a CAFM system

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