Emerging from Covid; building operational resilience through FM software

Nov 18, 2020 4 min read By Tom Wilcock
Emerging from Covid; building operational resilience through FM software

How are you adapting to the FM challenges thrown up by 2020?

For some companies, the Covid restrictions have forced them to speed up their plans for more flexible working and the digital migration of operations.

For others in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors it has required huge shifts in mindset. They’ve had to figure out how to remain open and relevant in a radically changed marketplace.

Success stories throughout the crisis

We’ve all seen amazing stories about ‘operational resilience’ in action; FM teams pulling together to make workplaces safer and more productive against the odds.

Pubs have become shops and takeaways, gyms have gone virtual and breweries repurposed their factory lines to produce hand-sanitiser and other medical supplies. Businesses have rallied around to ensure their people could quickly transition to WFH, and helped key workers venture back to the workplace in total safety.

Planning for future success

But continued FM success will not just be about going the extra mile or being creative and decisive in the face of new challenges. We need to move beyond simply reacting to events and start controlling how we can respond to future change with more effective digital tools.

If the ‘new normal’ is finding ways to deliver and keep operating in a world shifting between levels of lockdown - the ‘next normal’ is about finding the tools to make transformational change part of the FM mindset.

What digital tools do you need you to deliver the next normal?

What tools do we need to keep resilient as the pandemic continues to flare up?  What about when disruptive tech and trends present whole new sets of challenges and opportunities?  

CAFM can deliver!

The right CAFM (Computer-Aided Facilities Management) platforms can help companies deliver on key goals in really practical ways - while giving us ultimate control over changing and optimising your approach

Here’s how:

1. More control over teams and tasks

As the Covid Pandemic looks set to be with us well into 2021, FM teams will need to have greater control over maintenance teams working in multiple locations.  Spreadsheets, emails and phone calls won’t be enough to organise and report on activity when accuracy and accountability is paramount for safety.

  • Dedicated contractor portals designed to supply more information about maintenance requirements can help companies improve the rate of first time fixes, cutting down on the need for return visits. 
  • Tools for PPM (planned preventative maintenance) can help us plan slots for inspection and maintenance that keep teams distanced and traffic through buildings at manageable levels.
  • Mobile tracking, updates and notifications can keep teams informed about progress and problems - completing tasks and moving people between sites more safely and efficiently.
  • The ability to track and trace engineer movements will help deliver to Covid Secure standards

2. More control over quality

Deloitte’s latest FM research shows how quality is going to be a key concern for maintenance providers. It’s not just about doing the work anymore, but having documented proof that it’s been done exactly as required. For example, recording ‘before’ and ‘after’ data on air quality to prove work on filtration and HVAC systems has been carried out correctly. The ability to sign off on works remotely with ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures or being able to evidence and record micro-tasks being carried out. All this will improve confidence levels and reduce the time to close work orders. Cast iron compliance and H&S reporting is going to be top of mind for the next normal.

3. Flexible asset management

This study from the BCAF flags up how physical asset management is about to change in the post-Covid World.

In the future, the report finds, assets will be more widely distributed as flexible working increases and workspaces are reconfigured more frequently. They will be subject to different kinds of cleaning and maintenance regimes, which will all need to be managed and documented. In the Covid pandemic, we’ve seen shop floors remodelled to meet new restrictions, restaurant furniture moved outside and task chairs shipped out to workers’ homes. Assets being used in different settings and in new ways are introducing new stresses, maintenance and compliance requirements. We need to be able to capture and respond to them all - as we reinvent the ways we work. Digital asset management through CAFM tools can help ensure every asset is accounted for, available and fit for purpose when and where they’re needed across a business.

4. Better remote working

More remote working will require the consolidation of data, documents and communications in the cloud. Many FM teams urgently need to move from paper based systems and fragmented shared drives to more organised methods of central control. We need to work from anywhere and have secure access to vital information 24/7 if we’re going to respond in real time to critical business events.

5. Budget control

Money’s going to be tighter. We’re all going to need more control over how and where FM budgets are spent.

  • Can we get competing quotes for work quickly and easily in one place?
  • Can we cap and review spending when required?
  • Can we see how our spending is translating into results to prove ROI?
  • Can we automatically validate invoices and trigger audits to highlight cost savings?
  • Are SLAs and KPIs being met and exceeded?
  • Which contractors are performing better than others - where can we get the best results at the best price?
  • Can we visualise and report upon how much we’re spending vs budget

The best CAFM platforms offer businesses just this kind of control.

6. More data, more insight, better strategy

Access to data will be critical to reviewing success and deciding strategy. CAFM systems make all your data available in one place from your compliance information, to maintenance statistics, asset management trends and financial reporting. FM teams need to be able to access this data quickly and easily if it’s going to help them in their decision making. A good CAFM solution will allow you to add to your reporting suite as access to data grows (for example, through AI and sensor tech).

More control over more data means we can:

  • Spot emerging trends more quickly
  • Identify opportunities to spot duplicate requests
  • Consolidate work orders to reduce visits
  • Performance manage our teams and supply chain
  • Reduce risk of non-compliance and missing SLAs 

7. UX and usability makes the difference

Implementing CAFM systems will be vital if we’re going to automate and streamline processes and bring a new level of oversight and control to our operations.  But the difference between a successful and unsuccessful implementation will come down to uptake - whether your people actually want to use the system you’ve bought:

The user experience is a  key consideration - you need a CAFM with:

  • A simple and intuitive interface requiring little training or support
  • A personalised navigation - specific to the user’s role
  • Customised dashboards to focus the user’s attention to what really matters
  • Full accessibility across all devices including mobiles and tablets
  • Easy steps to upload and download data
  • No-code configuration for system set up and work flows
  • Flexible notifications and reminders to trigger calls to action
  • Integration with existing systems through an open API

A great UX ensures your workers are more likely to use the system, and that it becomes a central organising tool for your business as a result.

So, there you have it. Seven ways a CAFM can help FM’s build operational resilience and deliver value driven change even in the face of an unpredictable and volatile future.

The right CAFM can help you take control of that future, rather than letting you be controlled by what’s to come.

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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