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Facility Maintenance Decisions

Insights Into Software Specification

Part three of a three-part article on software evolution

By Kion Gibbs January 2017 - Software   Article Use Policy

The solutions available in the FM software market offer many different options, and they can create tough decisions for managers specifying software. Besides the features offered by each package, it is important to understand additional factors in the ultimate decision.

Implementation cost. The cost to implement CAFM software or an IWMS is not just a dollar amount. It also includes the lengthy process of implementation associated with the complexity of the chosen software and the data administrators must input, which can affect the timeline and the overall financial impact. When specifying software, managers must be sure to compare the costs of licensing and implementation. It is important to understand that there is typically no set price point, but a range. Many factors go into the cost of implementation, including the size of the organization, custom vs. standard implementation, and the level of software integration.

Portfolio size. The larger the portfolio to be managed, the greater the justification of an IWMS over CAFM software. The real estate and lease management function of an IWMS eases the process of managing multiple facilities and spaces. It also provides the ability to oversee operations remotely and track information that can reveal opportunities to cut costs by downsizing the portfolio or justify the need for expansion due to organizational growth. When specifying software with the portfolio in mind, managers should keep the possibility of future expansions or consolidations in mind, based on the goals of the organization.

Supported processes. Similar to the size of the portfolio, the processes in an organization that require support from the software will affect the specification. Different software providers offer solutions that can link with a CAFM system to perform select tasks. Rather than a fully integrated system, it might be more cost-effective to add specific module solutions to an existing CAFM application.

Compatibility and integration. Many organizations already have a CMMS, so software that is compatible and allows the mapping of existing data to the new system can streamline the implementation process. The technology also needs to have the approval of the information technology department to ensure it will not disrupt current technological operations.

Operational requirements. Acquisition and implementation are only two factors involved with new facility management software. The largest portion is related to the operation of the software after installation. Prior to specification, managers need to research the new software’s operational needs. The package’s initial cost might be low, but the cost of operation might be relatively high, or vice versa.

Vendor reliability. Managers must be careful to select a vendor that is reputable and will be around to ensure the specified software performs well over the long haul. The market for FM software is ever-changing among companies acquiring one another or just disappearing altogether. Vendors that have an established client base and can display success in FM software are favorable selections. If possible, managers should meet with the clients of vendors to gauge the vendor’s service level. Responsive and engaged vendors make software management much more convenient, especially after the handover.

Software specification has huge implications for a department and an organization. It can greatly improve the functionality of the department, leading to an increase in efficiency and cost savings if there is a thorough and comprehensive effort put into the specification. Or it can increase the difficulty with which the department operates and cost much more than necessary if managers do not pay careful attention.

It is essential that managers evaluate the needs of the department and organization, and even taking the time to consult a specialist to ensure the department is selecting the most appropriate package and capitalizing on the entire range of benefits it offers. 

Kion Gibbs is a staff specialist with Facility Engineering Associates — www.feapc.com — a consulting engineering firm headquartered in Fairfax, Va.





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