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Innovations in FM Software
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Facilities Software Takes a Strategic Role in FMPt. 2: This PagePt. 3: FM Software Systems Explained
The Open Standard for Corporate Real Estate (OSCRE) is the global e—commerce standards body for the property sector. Its vision is "to enable the real estate industry to work more effectively through the use of cost-effective, standardized and automated electronic information exchange." Its mission is to do this by delivering global electronic standards for exchanging real estate information and to drive standards adoption within the real estate industry.
Most of the major IWMS and point-solution vendors have joined OSCRE, and many have deployed OSCRE-certified solutions. One day soon, facility managers will be able to share real estate and facilities data between software products seamlessly and with a certainty that the data shared is accurately represented.
OSCRE will make sharing information much easier between facility managers and their partners. However, facility managers will still need a facility management software system to be able to do that sharing, and the biggest problem most facility management organizations have is justifying the cost and complexity of implementing a such a system.
Purchasing hardware and software, getting it approved and supported by an internal information technology (IT) group, and dealing with vendor maintenance costs and upgrades can be daunting. Enter "cloud computing," which helps companies avoid large capital investments by providing the needed services over the Internet.
For facility management purposes, the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) are pretty much synonymous. That's because SaaS is the delivery mechanism that can be used to access facility management software without having to buy or install it. With SaaS delivered software, facility managers just pay for what they need. The vendor maintains the hardware and software, handles backups, and in most cases, can even handle integration to internal systems such as accounting or human resources.
Driving It Home
Astute facility managers recognize the benefits of automation, but they should also be aware that software is not a universal remedy. Although technology is a critical tool in the effective management of a real estate portfolio, facility managers should pay attention to what software allows them to do, not on the software features themselves. Facility managers can now focus on the development of standardized and streamlined business processes that support an optimized operation, and then take a strategic position in guiding the role their facilities will play in the corporate mission. The good news is that today there are excellent software products available to support this more strategic focus.