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Information is the Most Important Ingredient to Managing Facilities, but Can Too Much Data be a Bad Thing?

Being swamped with information or data while not being in possession of the time or the knowledge to sort out the worthless from the helpful can be the rough equivalent of having no information at all. The result is either that you either delay making decisions, or that you make the wrong decisions.

So exactly how much information or data do you need? At FSI Middle East we believe you should have enough of the right data to be effective.

Today's CAFM software can collect data on almost every measurable conceivable. But extracting it into formats that enable end users to make strategic business decisions requires specialist knowledge, due to the scale of the data and the complex relationships within it.

FM data can give you the information you need to make the right decisions for your organisation.  At its most basic, it allows you to gather all the information on all the costs required to maintain your buildings: assets, energy, contracts, lease and rents. But it's what you can do with this data that's really exciting.

In the Middle East, we often see organisations that do not have proper business processes and no proper management information that can be accessed. Companies often believe that a CAFM system will, at the flick of a switch, provide process and reports and a suite of KPIs. All too often we also see companies have little or no data available relating to assets, lifecycle, service levels, but yet they expect to implement a CAFM tool virtually overnight.

A successful CAFM system depends on the quality of the data it processes. Data mapping is a priority, documented at every stage, helping to ensure continuity throughout a particular project. 

Organisations that fully invest in CAFM system implementation realise the benefits of constantly refining and improving their system, and training people in the correct use of the system. Proper training, specifically designed for an organisation, can be the difference between a system that is properly used and one which just goes through the motions.  It is easy to differentiate between organisations that constantly strive to improve and get the best out of their software and those that simply "use" them.

People are no longer just seeing their CAFM system as some giant database for storing masses of data. FM companies in particular, are realising the intelligent information and solutions that these systems are able to deliver, and they are constantly improving their businesses by using CAFM to its true potential.

Investing in a CAFM solution needs a robust business case, and here are some key aspects you need to consider:


  1. Information is key. To assess the potential benefits for your organisation, focus on each of the functions of your (proposed) system: identify specific and relevant information that this function will provide, plus how that information can be applied to deliver tangible monetary savings. Against this, offset the quality of the information you are currently receiving, and calculate the value of the discrepancy between them.
  2. Information is the most important ingredient to managing facilities successfully. Identifying what information you require, and how a CAFM solution will deliver that compared to your current system, will play a key role in the strength of your business case for a CAFM solution.
  3. Spend time discussing and documenting your reporting requirements, building tailored outputs and, where appropriate, digital dashboards that offer streamlined access to management Information. Too many, often spurious reports / graphs / KPIs, are referenced because that is what a service provider has chosen to offer a client, or because a dashboard with lots of charts makes it look like you are in control.
  4. When implementing a CAFM system, serious thought should be given to what data is included and the structure of that data. Firstly, don't build your data before you know what reports you want. Your assessment should be about what reporting the business needs - with or without technology. A good CAFM system should then simply assist with the process of building data from those choices.
  5. Likewise, don't maintain data that does not drive reporting. It is easy to think you should just launch into filling a CAFM system with your facility data, but it not only has a cost to import but also a cost to maintain. If the data does not feature as a requirement for browsing or reporting, then our rule is - leave it out. Data will be your biggest asset, so it is worth investing time in maintaining it.
  6. Make sure you own your data! Don't be caught out if you are outsourcing your facilities management provision - ensure you have access to your data and you are not tied to your supplier.
  7. Continuing on a similar theme, good CAFM Systems allow the import of all data so you don't need to enter data manually. When importing data or migrating from an existing system use the opportunity to look at industry best practices and processes rather than trying to replicate poor data from an obsolete system or old spreadsheet.

Ultimately an effective CAFM system should enable you to plan your budgets for lifecycle costing, plant replacement, planned refurbishments and post-occupancy evaluations.  It should give you the ability to optimise energy consumption, sustainability and space management, helping you to identify how often facilities are used and the right workspace solutions, such as dedicated versus hot desks.

Most importantly, you can measure the data against SLA's and KPI's and decide whether your in-house and external service providers are delivering on their promises.

Exactly what knowledge you want from your FM data will depend upon whether you are the occupier, the FM provider or the finance department, but a good FM platform will offer the right insights for all three perspectives.  It is important to identify the type and level of information you want before commissioning your FM system, but ideally it should give you the big headlines with the ability to drill down into them to get the level of detail you need in a way that is easy to interpret.