When I first arrived in the Middle East over a decade ago, the level of significance placed on preserving and maximising the lifecycle of buildings and facilities was so far removed to where it is today that it’s practically night and day. However, it is clear that there is still some confusion over the full capabilities that CAFM software can offer organisations, when delivered by an experienced, trusted provider.
This need for education is illustrated in the myths surrounding FM software our team at FSI have seen spread over time. These falsehoods are caused by several factors, such as:
- The rapid development of this industry in the last decade;
- The highly competitive landscape among FM service providers;
- The growth of ‘badged CAFM companies’ whose offerings only cover a fraction of what can be considered a complete CAFM solution; and
- The tendency for customers to look at the initial costs rather than consider the savings made over time.
Myths are dangerous in any environment, as when spread they cause unwitting organisations to make costly mistakes, believing that they’re doing the right thing. It’s essential we as experienced, well-versed specialists in CAFM shift focus away from these myths and provide the knowledge to approach FM in a way that addresses an organisation’s needs now and in the future.
Below I’ve outlined what we at FSI believe to be the five most persistent myths that are hurting people’s appreciation of CAFM software capabilities right now.
Myth #1 - All FM Software is the same
Firstly, particularly in CAFM’s infancy in this part of the globe, many share the belief that all FM software is the same. This can result in those in the market for these kinds of systems to naturally veer towards the cheaper examples, as surely they provide the same benefits as others available but at a lower price.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, and this myth is likely due to a lack of understanding into the diverse nuances a complete CAFM system can offer compared to lesser versions out there. That’s why at FSI we’ve always prioritised giving people a full understanding of the intricacies of CAFM and what it stands for. Alternatives might have been developed specifically for the customer in question, but they typically don’t come close to covering the scope or sophistication of a truly complete CAFM solution.
Overall, my advice to prospective adopters of a CAFM system is to know what you are looking for from this kind of software in relation to your business processes and choosing a CAFM system and provider that complements this.
Myth #2 - CAFM just supports asset management
Next, there are those that believe that CAFM is solely a solution for asset management. While this is a notable benefit that an effective CAFM system should provide as standard, asset management is not its core function. This is problematic as it could mean smaller, less refined software providers can claim to present their asset management solution as a complete CAFM system, perpetuating the myth that these systems do not offer benefits beyond this.
Again, as we continue to educate people as to the full extent of CAFM software across all aspects of business and facilities management, beyond asset management and into areas like workflow management, system security and financial control, this myth should slowly fade away. Until then, it’s important we continue to emphasise the scope a total CAFM solution covers over alternatives.
Myth #3 - Integration with sensors and Building Management Systems is a new phenomenon
Now that we’re surrounded by talk of the Internet of Everything, IoT and big data, it isn’t absurd that people believe that integrating facilities with sensors and building management systems is innovative. In fact, this technology isn’t new - at FSI, BMS integration has been a core component of our offering since we started nearly 30 years ago.
While the development of IoT and the challenges surrounding this have caused our technology and approach to evolve over the years, the principal of automatically creating actionable outcomes from sensor data feeds has remained the same in all that time. So if anyone tries to sell their CAFM software on the strength of this innovative offering, it’s important you’re aware that it’s been around for decades.
Myth #4 - A one-size-fits-all ERP does the same job as CAFM
Choosing an ERP system in place of a CAFM solution is choosing reactive over proactive management. ERPs like SAP and Oracle are effective in providing retrospective data, particularly in the financial sphere. For example, an ERP’s asset management tool will focus on that value an asset is to the business based on its existing financial statements.
Conversely, CAFM allows you to look forward as well as backwards. In the above example, CAFM software would provide further data on the operational cost of an asset rather than just its value then and there. This allows FMs to make informed choices over its lifecycle, maintenance and management for the future, which can lead to significant savings over time and a more efficient, forward-thinking approach.
Myth #5 - CAFM is too expensive
The final myth to address here is the perception that CAFM is too expensive for many organisations to aspire to. As we operate in a market that is particularly cost-conscious, it is to be expected that people will look more closely at the price tag than the software’s specifications. However, the truth is that this initial saving will likely lead to more substantial losses down the road over the long-term efficiency a complete CAFM system offers.
While FM as an industry has developed leaps and bounds in the last decade in relation to the importance of managing and structuring buildings in a smarter, sustainable way, there is still a notable trend to approach CAFM as a reaction to a problem, rather than looking at the long-term benefits in a proactive way. This means that when people are looking for a solution, they will be tempted to choose an option that specifically resolves their current pain point, rather than a more comprehensive system that will continue to support your business as it evolves.
Therefore, when another pain point arises or the company progresses to the point they require more universal FM software, the initial saving they made on an entry-level or highly-specified product will be eroded away. Instead, they’ll have to invest more over time on additions or start from scratch with an entirely new system.
It’s vital we continue to educate people about the pitfalls of this false economy that investing in an ill-equipped or incomplete CAFM solution can cause over time. Instead, we must promote the cost savings that are accrued over time. A comprehensive CAFM system in the style FSI is able to provide make long-term efficiency savings of 25% or more attainable, as well as offers the capacity to evolve with the changing needs of organisations over time.
Breaking down the myths surrounding FM software
Busting these myths and making people aware of the full capabilities of CAFM solutions is crucial to ensuring organisations receive a solution that suits their needs now and in the future, and are not swayed by systems that are cheaper on the surface, but aren’t fit-for-purpose. Working with an experienced provider like FSI goes a long way in banishing these myths and giving you an honest, complete picture of what a CAFM solution can do.
Overall, it is important those interested in adopting CAFM software look beyond cost and delve deeper into its specifications to make sure it meets your requirements. Choosing a solution is more than a tick-box exercise - it is at the heart of developing a more efficient, cost-effective and sensible way to support the lifecycle of buildings, facilities and assets.
(The blog is written by Adrian Jarvis, Director of FSI Middle East)