So, you’ve finally got the budget and backing to procure your chosen CAFM system. Now comes the really hard bit. How do you ensure a successful implementation?

Choosing a CAFM system is one thing, getting it installed and actually being used across your organisation is another. The figures around successful implementations are not encouraging, with 70% of organisations reporting the failure of these projects.

But the reasons for failed implementations often reflect a lack of effective planning, leading to:

  • Lack of internal resource to configure solutions

  • Poor preparation of key data

  • Inadequate training prior to launch

  • Failure to generate and encourage high system usage

  • Diminishing support at board level

A successful CAFM installation is really a three-stage process. First requirements are defined, then the solution is designed and configured. Finally, it is launched and optimised.

But how can you ensure each step goes smoothly and paves the way for the next phase of the process? How can you ensure that you sustain momentum and keep the key stakeholders focused on making the new system work?

Here are some hard-won insights for delivering success at every stage:

1. Define

Before you begin, you need to clearly define your objectives and agree internally what success will look like. If you don’t know what your expectations are it’ll be very difficult to know if you’ve met them.

Part of the buying process includes identifying your organisational needs and choosing the right fit solution to deliver on those needs. But when you’ve procured the right system the hard work often begins. This is the moment where you’ve got to create a plan and begin a more detailed specification process. You’ll need the resources internally available to do this, or be able to rely on the expertise of your CAFM partner (or a third party contractor) to help you.

This process entails:

  • Nominating a project lead who will be the day-to-day contact between your organisation and your CAFM partner. It will be their job to facilitate communications, complete actions, draft in key-stakeholders when required and generally keep the project on track.
  • Establishing milestones detailing exactly what needs to be achieved and when in conjunction with the CAFM partner.
  • Gathering formal requirements, and developing a list of MOSCOWs to define your needs. This is a list of the functionality your solution must, could, should (or would) include as time allows. Your partner should formalise these into a SoW (Statement of Work) showing what is actually going to be delivered and when.
  • Workshopping your solution. Ideally this process will be with your CAFM partner, who will be there to help you configure the end product. In the workshopping stage you need to specify the way each of your purchased modules are going to function, including the workflows, user roles, notification schemes, reporting requirements and integration points that will be required.

2. Configure

Every CAFM mobilisation project is unique and often requires bespoke configuration to ensure the system supports and achieves the defined goals and objectives.

Choosing software that can be customised and configured is important as this will allow you the personalised experience required to achieve the user participation levels that you crave. However, it’s equally important that you deliver industry best practice and do not reinvent the wheel. Your CAFM partner should be able to support you with proven processes and workflows. They should be your reliable guide, whose well-rounded experience can be called upon to solve your problems head on.

You will also need to figure out how much support you’ll need from your partner (or solutions consultant) to import data and complete other elements of the set up to get you started.

This will ensure you keep the project momentum going and focus on meeting your delivery goals. These elements might include, but won’t be limited to:

  • Workflow set up

  • Personalisation of navigation and dashboards

  • User import and set up

  • Site schemas and asset upload

  • Preparing and uploading PPM data

  • Configuring emails and notifications

  • Integrating with accounting systems to automate supplier invoicing

As the consultant Chris Lee writes in his ‘warts and all’ description of a typical CAFM project much of the success of the installation will depend on the quality and completeness of the data you are importing.

“Collect all the key data ensuring it is of usable quality – this is particularly important if you are going to have a data import done by the vendor, as some do not validate before importing”

Whether it is setting up an asset register or configuring a PPM module, you need to be confident that the data is structured correctly, the naming conventions are right and there are no anomalies or omissions. If you are relying on a partner to help with this effort, are they going to go the extra mile to ensure all this information is correct?.

3. Launch and optimise

The way the system is rolled out across your organisation will be key to its uptake and its chances of success.

Expectations around CAFM systems are often high but a delayed roll out of an over complicated solution can put your people off using the system altogether.

This lack of uptake will mean you have fewer successes to report on which may, in turn dampen enthusiasm about the project at board level.

To ensure a CAFM can begin to deliver results as quickly as possible you should look to prioritise the delivery of key functionality, while ensuring your team are properly trained and involved in its optimisation.

Prioritise and optimise

Many businesses choose to go live in stages, rather than deliver every planned piece of functionality all at once. Restricting initial roll out to selected services, sites or specific contractors will give you the chance to test and optimise the solution before you roll it out across the board. An example sequence of release for CAFM modules might be:

  • Internal Maintenance

  • Reactive Maintenance

  • Planned maintenance

  • Compliance Remedial

  • Asset management

This strategy lets you build on a basic set of features, adding new functionality in sprints; optimising 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 refine your strategy. Getting feedback from the teams involved in each release and working to fix the problems will keep the organisational focus on continuous improvement to secure better results.

Train and incentivise

Your chosen CAFM should be user friendly enough that it doesn’t require extensive training to master.

But training can help emphasise to your team and your contractors the specific benefits of using the system, underlining the way it addresses their pain points. Giving key user groups the time and space to understand and experiment with specific functionality can be a good investment of time and resource. Chris Lee recommends exactly this:

“Ensure that you create a training plan, define what you want to be covered. Pay attention to the environment where the candidates are to be trained, ideally away from their normal workstation. Ensure that there is ample time set aside for this to happen without interruptions or distractions.”

If engineers have a clear idea how your new mobile features can reduce their paperwork and ‘time to fix’, or contractors understand how they can invoice straight from your app, you are more likely to see a greater uptake of your system right from the start.

What next?

Setting up a complete CAFM solution and making it part of your operations is not something that can be achieved overnight. But it’s possible to deploy a system rapidly that prioritises the release of key functionality, from which you can build a more comprehensive solution over time.

To do this you’ll need to plan your design and release properly, and have the necessary support in place before you begin. Thinking about how to use the right internal and external resource to deliver on each of three stages will make the process easier. It’ll help you keep focus, maintain the enthusiasm of your team, and meet your delivery goals.

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Tom Wilcock

Written by Tom Wilcock

Tom Wilcock is the COO and Co-Founder of Expansive Solutions. He is a digital expert with a background in delivering large-scale business digital transformation. He specialises in project management, product user experience, business ecosystems and data intelligence.

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