Building Controls, Maintenance and Operations

Is Your CMMS Truly Automated?

In today’s fast-paced world, Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)/Computer Aided Facility Management (CaFM) automation has become integral to facility operations. However, not all CMMS/CaFM automation is created equal.

Many facilities find themselves stuck in what we call a “superficial automation pitfall” that results in siloed and broken operation processes. This pitfall is caused when facilities managers try to work around their current legacy CMMS/CaFMs by adding multiple-point solution software. It’s frighteningly very common for FMs to log in to 4-6 different applications to process a single work order (one for ticket management, one for invoice generation, one for raising procurements, one for asset management, one for generating reports, and one for accounting).

This ultimately leads to complex operation processes, information loss, employee and staff frustration, extended SLAs, unpleasant occupant experiences, and unnecessary added costs.

What Is the Superficial Automation Pitfall?

It is all too common for facilities managers to rely on outdated legacy systems that fail to meet modern facility operations’ demands. As a result, facilities managers grapple with multiple-point solutions—one for vendor management, one for the helpdesk, one for service requests, one for inventory management—and they are constantly juggling between tools to accomplish their tasks. Moreover, these systems are often only partially implemented, creating a never-ending loop of inefficiency, siloed operations, and frustration, which we call the “superficial automation pitfall.”

Why Are Many Facilities Stuck in the Pitfall?

The first CMMS/CaFM were introduced in the 1960s; these were simple math-based systems designed for manufacturing equipment output. These CMMS platforms proved to be revolutionary for the manufacturing industry and, hence ,were adopted by different industries as well.

Over time, the real estate industry underwent numerous transformations, from basic manufacturing plants to smart buildings. Almost everything has changed. The needs, the challenges, and the capabilities of facilities have evolved, and so has the role of a facilities manager.

However, the legacy CMMS/CaFM systems are still limited to equipment maintenance and monitoring. In today’s world, where delivering a seamless occupant experience and fulfilling net zero goals has become crucial, many facilities are still running on these legacy systems. There are two main reasons why:

  1. Some facilities managers may overlook their evolving business needs and stick to software provided by equipment manufacturers, focusing primarily on asset maintenance and technical processes.
  2. Some facilities managers may fear change management. They don’t want to implement a new CMMS/CaFM because of the amount of time and resources it will take to deploy it across their buildings.

So, instead of addressing the root causes, band-aid point solutions are implemented to solve the shortcomings of legacy systems, perpetuating the cycle of superficial automation.

Why Should Facilities Managers Consider Reevaluating Their Tools and Current Business Needs?

  1. Legacy systems may prioritize asset maintenance, possibly overlooking the crucial connection between tenants, occupants, vendors, and O&M teams.
  2. Legacy systems may cater primarily to the technical workforce, neglecting the diverse needs of modern facilities.
  3. Lack of integration with BAS, accounting, business intelligence reporting, and IT tools may create information silos and hampers efficient decision-making.
  4. Improper implementation further compounds challenges, forcing facilities to adapt their workflows to accommodate system limitations.
  5. Facilities have changed their operations to fit the constraints of legacy CaFM systems instead of leveraging technology to meet evolving needs.
  6. This one-sided approach may hamper progress, stifle innovation, and prevent facilities from fully embracing effective facilities management practices.

In Conclusion

Facilities managers play a critical role in overseeing building operations, but they often face significant challenges due to siloed and complex operational processes. These obstacles prevent them from breaking free from day-to-day tasks and hinder their ability to think strategically to achieve broader business objectives.

While legacy systems and point solutions may assist facilities managers in managing current operations, they may also lack scalability for the future. Therefore, it is crucial for facilities managers to streamline their operational processes and adopt innovative solutions that enable them to focus on strategic decision-making and long-term success.

Nivedha Sridhar is the director of marketing and a founding team member at Facilio Inc., an enterprise-wide facilities O&M software platform provider headquartered in New York.

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