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Forging ahead and sharing expertise

Here, ISS provides all non-clinical FM services including estate management and hard and soft FM services. In the first two months of operation, ISS received a huge amount of calls - 700 calls per day were taken on soft services alone. Such volumes demand a robust yet sensitive CAFM system: given the hospital environment, each call has its own sense of urgency and stringent measures for monitoring individual calls are regarded as crucial, not just desirable. Over the months, the teams from ISS and FSI have worked closely together. This partnering approach has produced positive, practical solutions. Take call logging for example. This was an aspect of the Concept system that ISS worked to improve alongside FSI’s technical team. Rather than using the original tick box system of recording when the call is first logged, the new method allows the operator to take the full details of the requirement from the caller before placing the task onto the system. This has the benefit of allowing the full amount of the response time to be dedicated to fulfilling the task. In this kind of environment the speed of response is key, with 80% of all calls requiring a response within 30 minutes. Clients wanting to shape their CAFM systems are to be encouraged, according to Compton Darlington, director of operations at FSI: “Part of the flexibility with Concept is that it can be easily adapted to the needs of a particular user. There’s simply no point in us supplying software without working with the users to ensure that they are happy with it. Clients’ needs change and we’ve got to change with them.” A core element of the ISS CAFM structure is the helpdesk, which is high tech and easy to use. Within some of the existing PFI projects, FM service level agreements state that the time a call is logged must be recorded along with when it was allocated to a resource (e.g. a porter); when this resource arrives to commence the task and, finally, when the job is completed. ISS information systems manager Dave Bray believes that the majority of reactive calls are linked to portering: “ At least seven out of ten calls are movement related and involve portering. It may seem a routine structure to organise but now this area has to be stringently managed, a CAFM system is crucial.” So what about the infrastructure? It must be fault tolerant and have a large networking capacity to cope with the fact that a large database requires supporting. Customer expenditure on such a system is significant. “Anyone embarking on such a project should think in terms of expenditure in the region of five times the cost of software for the hardware and networking,” warns Dave Bray, “and, not surprisingly, expectations are high, the system needs to be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” This type of system is crucial to allow the production of PMS reports to the client and is becoming more commonplace in the health sector. The ability to keep close track of the efficiencies within any PFI contract is an integral part of the service level agreements established at the start of any relationship between a service provider and a client. At Hairmyres Hospital the helpdesk is a key driver to improve the efficiency of the services the hospital offers its patients. John Weir, General Manager for ISS at the hospital comments: “Having so many services means that most problems have more than one solution, and often by working together we can solve them more quickly. We have managers on a weekly on-call roster that cover all services: as the managers take responsibility for any issues, they acquire skills around the other disciplines. Having the helpdesk allows us to measure so many variables that we can see trends in all our services and produce clear, focused information that the client can use.” The health arena will continue to be shaped by advances in technology. Another PFI hospital using ISS services is Queen Elizabeth Woolwich, where the Meridian Hospital Company uses the Concept eSQL module, which features intranet capability. The helpdesk here currently takes 350 calls per day, 97% of which are logged electronically. It is interesting to note that the helpdesk only requires one operator - something that would have been inconceivable without a CAFM system in place. So why FSI for ISS? Dave Bray comments: “ For us, it was the widespread use of FSI systems that prompted ISS to consider them. We’re driven by entrepreneurship and it is vital that we have someone working with us who understands not only the nature of our business but also what drives us forward. We have to meet the challenges offered in this sector and there are already a further 31 new healthcare PFI schemes announced by the Government. The old adage that you’re only as good as your last job rings true and as a leading provider of FM solutions we must ensure that our systems and IT have the ability to meet the growing demands of the PFI market. To do that we need a forward facing partner who is always willing to take that next step with us.”