How to find the right facilities management software that allows you to enhance the planning and service of your management and maintenance facility processes.
Whether you’re a landlord, owner of a facilities management company, or the facilities manager of a business centre, this facilities management software buyer’s guide is for you.
Using our 6-step process, you’ll be able to highlight the features and requirements you need to find a facilities management software solution that best suits you, your team and your company.
1. Map out your current facility management processes
Your role as a facilities manager is to ensure functionality, safety, and efficiency within the built environment. As you well know, this is achieved through various processes of management and maintenance throughout the premises. However, keeping on top of multiple processes can become overwhelming, especially if you’re still using traditional methods such as pen-and-paper or spreadsheets.
Before delving into the world of CAFM tools and facility management vendor products, it’s important to map out your current facilities processes.
A great way to do this is to ask questions, such as:
What is your process for creating a facility maintenance schedule?
This could be your current process of scheduling and planning mechanical, electrical or structural maintenance. For example, consider your process of planning a preventive maintenance schedule for maintaining premises facilities, such as heating systems and elevators.
What is your process for recruiting external facility service personnel?
This could include liaising with external facility management companies to help manage processes such as cleaning, catering, waste management, security and ground maintenance. This is as well as collecting and managing data regarding each external contractor and their word orders.
How do you ensure the availability of equipment to occupants?
Supplying equipment doesn’t just mean making sure water coolers and kitchen kettles are available; it also requires you to know where each one of your facility assets is stored, as well as monitoring each piece of equipment as they’re moved between office spaces.
How do you collect and store occupant and space management data?
Most likely stored in a spreadsheet, you would have collected valuable data regarding the occupants of each physical office space in the premises. This could be an occupant’s name, company name, length of residency, and any financial details regarding rental agreements.
How do you communicate work orders between maintenance personnel, occupants, contractors and management?
When spearheading the premises’ facility operations, it’s imperative that you keep in touch with all levels of your team. Whether that be by email, phone call, or two-way radio, or walkie-talkie. This includes relaying information to maintenance personnel, technicians, groundskeepers and occupants. The same goes for your executive management team too, as they need regular updates regarding ongoing facility work orders.
How do you recognise and implement the latest facilities’ management trends?
Part of your management role may be to scan and analyse the facilities’ management market for current trends that can positively affect your processes. For example, a more recent trend is the use of drones and aerial imagery to help identify required maintenance on roofs and exteriors of high-rise buildings.
2. Highlight challenges within your building and ground maintenance, service teams, space management, equipment downtime and reservations that you aim to solve with a CAFM Tool
When identifying the problems and challenges within your current facility processes, it’s best to separate them into two groups: hard and soft. Hard problems are measurable and can directly affect operations, whereas soft problems are more generalised and may not be quantifiable.
Here are some typical challenges that most facilities managers will come across during their management and maintenance processes:
Not having a centralised system to store maintenance and occupant data
You’re collecting a large amount of data, such as lease agreements, maintenance schedules and space reservations. This data is then stored and spread out across various computers, spreadsheets, and paper documents – making it a challenge to instantly access data when you need it the most.
Not accurately recording your maintenance expenditure and facility running costs
From replacing inventory and equipment to producing energy audits, you’re expected to track the cost of each facility process. But without reporting tools, real-time tracking equipment and a centralised database, it can be tough to accurately account for all management and maintenance spending.
Not effectively scheduling maintenance of critical equipment to reduce downtime
To allow processes to run smoothly and keep occupant morale at a high, you have a responsibility to supply the right equipment at the right time. But, without the right data to build a preventive maintenance schedule, you’re more than likely going to experience sudden equipment failure, meaning equipment becomes unavailable to maintenance staff, office space and occupants for an extended amount of time.
Not responding to facility, maintenance or occupant incidents
Complaints, requests, and disruptions are in danger of being forgotten when written down on a notepad or stored in a spreadsheet. By not scheduling or reacting to an incident in a timely manner, it can quickly escalate into an emergency.
Failing to have a clear line of work order communication between maintenance teams
Without having an accessible centralised system, there can be confusion among work orders. For example, data on spreadsheets can be duplicated or deleted without your knowledge by another team member.
Not securely backing up maintenance and occupant data to a web-based/cloud-based system
The data you store is extremely valuable and consists of financial details, occupant information and asset data. Without backing up to a secure cloud-based system, your data is vulnerable to natural disasters or being compromised.
Failing to keep up with health and safety regulations and facilities compliance
You’re responsible for making sure equipment and facilities are in line with all current and standard regulations. That includes licences, warranties, health and safety checks, and lease agreements. Without having an automated notification system, regulation updates and safety standards could be forgotten.
3. Identify specific management and maintenance features you need to meet your facilities management software requirements and future milestones
Having a solid understanding of what you require from a CAFM tool can benefit your decision in two ways:
You are able to generate goals and milestones to which you are able to measure the success of using a facilities management and maintenance tool.
You are able to clearly outlay what you expect to achieve from the tool, which you can then communicate to the business’s decision-makers.
After mapping out key responsibilities and highlighting challenges, you can then identify the specific management and maintenance features you need. For example, you may require a tool to:
Improve the workflow of your maintenance processes
Not only can the improvement of workflow management enhance communication between maintenance personnel and teams, but it also enables processes to run smoother. You can see what equipment is scheduled or overdue for maintenance. As well as what maintenance is being done and where, and the status of each process. You can also send updates and reports to your executive management team for reassurance.
Reduce ongoing facility costs throughout the premises
With the right facilities’ management tool, you can accurately track and record all of your facilities and maintenance spendings. With this data, you are also able to produce reports and data analytics to identify the resources that are having the biggest impact on your budget. Larger costs on the premises can include energy bills, ground maintenance, and the recruitment of personnel for catering, cleaning, and security. For instance, in 2018 energy expenses averaged $0.06 per square foot (PSF) for industrial buildings. With ground and landscape maintenance expenses averaging $0.02 PSF.
Track equipment and facility assets in real-time
The right CAFM tool lets you connect and sync tracking technologies such as RFID tags and GPS trackers to provide real-time data. This is particularly handy for tracking larger building assets, such as fleet vehicles. This is in addition to being able to connect IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled devices to collect real-time data such as energy usage and equipment failure. As of 2018, 47% of manufactures are placing a greater emphasis on the use of IoT devices in their built environments.
Store and organise occupant, office space, reservation and maintenance data
Instead of collecting and storing data in various spreadsheets and folders, you may require an easier solution. A web-based/cloud-based facilities management system will provide you with a central repository for all of your data.
Assist with the procurement of assets such as equipment and inventory
Not only are you able to manage inventory and equipment stock levels in real-time, but you can also record your facility purchases to help plan future procurement budgets. An automated ordering system can also be built-in to the system to make the re-stocking process even more efficient.
Improve maintenance scheduling to prolong the usability of equipment
With facilities management software, you’ll have the ability to track the life cycle of all assets and equipment within the building. This helps to build effective preventive maintenance schedules that include servicing and usage data, letting you know when to repair or replace an asset to avoid extended periods of downtime.
Enhance the health and well-being of occupants
Health and well-being are essential for increasing work quality and productivity in the workplace. By monitoring processes and collecting data, you’re able to understand the effect your management has on an occupant’s well-being. This includes physical factors such as air quality, temperature comfort, and lighting levels, as well as physiological well-being such as access to nature and having an outside view.
4. Shortlist Facilities Management Software vendors and compare them on features, industry fit, service and prices
While most facilities management software solutions can look the same, there are little variations that can make a significant difference. Here’re the steps we recommend taking while searching for the right vendor:
Have a definitive list of the features, requirements and milestones you need
Begin scanning the entire facilities management software marketplace
Shortlist at least five vendors that either completely match or moderately match your list of features and requirements
Screenshot, write down or print out the features that each vendor can supply
Make a list of noteworthy points from each vendor such as free trials, training support and prices
At the end of this comparison and evaluation stage, you should be left with the ideal tool that is going to meet your requirements. While also improving the efficiency of your management and maintenance processes, and helping to achieve milestones.
Here’re a few points to keep in mind when it comes to comparing facilities management software vendors against one another:
Actively seek out a free trial or live demonstration
Access to a vendor’s product, via a free trial or live demonstration, can make the difference between choosing vendor ‘A’ over vendor ‘B’. Usually, an online demo will be the first interaction you have with the product. It may also be accompanied by a salesperson who will walk you through the product, giving you a chance to ask any questions. This is then followed by a free trial, where you can test the product yourself and understand the system’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to your maintenance and management requirements.
Consider all key areas of the product
Does it have a clear user interface that is easy to navigate for all facilities and maintenance personnel?
Are you able to identify the right maintenance and management features that you require when using the free trial?
Were you easily able to find and contact the vendor’s support team? If so, were you satisfied with their reply and response time?
Did they offer any training, video tutorials or web-based classes on how to use their product?
Have they had any prior experience providing software to other facility management businesses that are similar to yours, or in the same industry?
Do they meet the correct legal requirements to comply with GDPR law regarding occupant and other maintenance personnel data collection?
Cross-reference each product with your own management and maintenance requirements
Can the product provide the right features to improve the workflow and communication of facility processes throughout the organisation?
Does it offer the right reporting and analysis tools to accurately track and help reduce ongoing facilities, maintenance and equipment costs?
Will it provide you with a notification-style system that alerts you when a maintenance work order has been started, completed, or is overdue?
Can the system migrate all of your occupant, equipment and maintenance data and store it all into one accessible centralised database repository?
Can it be aligned with an asset management tool that works with IoT-enabled devices, such as GPS trackers and smart heating systems, to provide real-time data in order to prolong the usability of equipment?
Is it a web-based/cloud-based solution that allows all maintenance personnel to access specific data from anywhere, at any time, via a mobile device?
Enquire about prices, pricing plans, and hidden costs
Lastly, and most importantly, ask each vendor about the price of their product. You’ll want to know their pricing plans and if there are extra fees for storage limits or implementation. Knowing the price is crucial for understanding the value of the product in relation to your goals and milestones; “is it worth it?”.
5. Communicate your chosen facilities management software to your maintenance team and to the decision-makers to drive buy-in
After compiling your research, you’re now convinced that the implementation of a CAFM solution will enhance your facility processes. Now it’s time to convince the stakeholders.
Getting your facilities team on-board
Whether it’s your maintenance, recruitment, or management team, they’ll all want to know how this new tool will affect their processes and responsibilities within the premises.
Make sure you are able to answer their questions, such as:
Is it easy-to-use?
Will we need to be trained in the system and how long will training take?
If there is required training, will we be sent on a course or are we expected to study independently?
Should we be familiar with hardware and equipment that is included with the system, such as barcode scanners?
How will this tool directly benefit our facilities processes?
Will there be specific features for each team, such as schedules for cleaning and ground maintenance?
Convincing the decision-makers
You’ve found the best facilities management software product that meets all of your requirements and you’ve got your team on board. Now it’s time to get approval from the decision-makers.
Here’re some key points to keep in mind when making your case to an executive management team:
Refer to how this tool will aim to serve the company’s best interest
Include plenty of numbers and figures in your presentation, such as ROI calculations
Detail how, and if, existing maintenance and management platforms can still be utilised and integrated alongside the tool
Present a detailed plan and timescale for deployment and full integration
Highlight any risks that may appear during integration
6. Develop a detailed deployment and integration plan for your facilities management software tool with your team and vendor
Before you purchase your brand-new facilities management tool, it’s important that you are able to develop a detailed and realistic implementation plan with your chosen vendor.
Here’re a few key points you may want to consider when developing your plan:
Timescale of deployment
Once you’ve purchased the tool, you may have a rough idea of the time it takes to meet your goals. But deploying the tool can be a lengthy process, so make sure to leave time for any challenges that you may face.
Being trained in the system
Don’t expect your CAFM tool to automatically and instantly improve your facility processes without the right training. This requires time and money, so be sure to factor this into your plan.
Integration with other systems
Consider the challenges when integrating the tool with other platforms such as email, calendars, data storage, and file-hosting. It may take even longer to integrate other applications as well, like building information modelling (BIM) and computer-aided design (CAD) systems.
You would have collected a huge amount of data regarding building space, maintenance work orders, and assets. This data will now need to be transferred into your new system, which can be a lengthy process. Whether you do it yourself, or your vendor offers help at an extra cost, you’ll need to consider the time it takes to complete this transition.