FM software

Using FM software to improve communications

The case for replacing paper and spreadsheet systems with advanced technology
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
By Marcus Scholes

For organizations with ever-expanding, multi-billion-dollar property portfolios, satisfying and retaining occupants is a top priority. Communicating important information between facilities teams, occupants, contractors, and finance departments is crucial to maximizing retention rates. Not only does it simplify working relationships, it also allows facilities managers to focus on completing tasks that keep spaces functioning to the highest standard.

When issues arise, it should be easy for an occupant to reach somebody that can resolve the problem. Advancements in facilities management (FM) technology have improved organizational communication and can help businesses reduce maintenance costs while improving occupant satisfaction, building efficiency, and productivity.

In the past, supervisors scribbled job details into a work order book or onto a whiteboard, allocated it to a member of their team and passed it on to the assigned technician. While this method works to an extent, scraps of paper can easily be misplaced. When companies have multiple facilities to maintain, crucial tasks can be missed, potentially leading to accidents or costly breakdowns.

Spreadsheet tracking for facilities maintenance is a step improved over paper notes. But, spreadsheets are prone to errors, lack traceability, and are not scalable.

As portfolios grow, having a software solution that can grow with the business is absolutely crucial. With a number of FM software solutions available on the market, users can receive and update work orders through mobile apps, text or email, providing a full audit trail of tasks that have been set and completed.

Systems can now automatically route requests to the right people, improving reliability as problems can be addressed quickly. Technicians can attach notes and documents to work orders using their smart devices, meaning management can receive updates immediately and take action if required. This ensures responses are timely and efficient, reducing the risk of inconveniencing occupants.

Reducing property management costs

If facilities teams can keep their property management costs low, they can offer attractive rates to their occupants and establish a competitive advantage over opposing service providers. One of the key ways FM software can help reduce costs is by enabling organizations to make better-informed decisions.

Dashboards of key performance indicators (KPIs) provide live feedback on which areas of the business are most expensive to maintain. Many of these KPIs are selectable, enabling users to expand into more in-depth data. This allows organizations to analyze when it might be best to dispose of existing assets and replace them with newer models. Data trends can help facilities teams identify when assets are at risk of failure and reduce equipment downtime, which often leads to reduced space and asset utilization.

Expensive breakdowns can also occur if important jobs don’t get completed due to miscommunication. The ability to note the priority of jobs within an online portal for reporting faults and submitting work request means that if a high-priority fault occurs, immediate action can be taken to resolve the situation.

Improving building efficiency

Performing maintenance to a high standard and addressing issues quickly ensures buildings run efficiently with a greatly reduced risk of equipment breakdowns. Storing and managing all resources, documentation, and contact details in one location ensures facilities managers can receive, allocate, and sign off work orders quickly, while also enabling them to check whether tasks are assigned to employees or contractors with the appropriate qualifications.

Closing the communications loop

Online portals for recording faults or logging work requests reduce administration and signal to occupants that their needs will be addressed promptly and efficiently.

When work request portals are connected to specific properties, spend can be monitored against allocated budgets and profit centres, simplifying budgeting. If information is requested about maintenance related to a specific building or tenancy, the facilities manager can quickly produce reports with relevant data, improving communication between the facilities team and accounts payable in particular.

Once work has been marked as completed, automatic alerts prompt accounts payable to raise invoices or purchase orders rather than the department having to wait for a paper trail of completed work to action payments.

Many organizations have large portfolios, imposing significant demands on facilities management teams to function at the highest level. FM software has caught up with the demand for accountability, traceability, and instant communication channels, rendering spreadsheets and paper-based systems obsolete.

Marcus Scholes is managing director at Real Asset Management, an MRI software company and a provider of fixed asset management and logistics software and services.

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