CAFM systems: simplifying facilities management

The role of the facilities manager is becoming more complex, but what can CAFM systems do to help?

Multiple sites, increasingly diverse portfolios and larger teams mean that facilities managers are becoming time and resource-poor. Businesses expect a greater return on investment from their assets and efficiencies need to be demonstrated. Facilities managers must effectively manage the traditional aspects of the building and its infrastructure through inspections, maintenance and repairs. But increasingly, they are expected to manage the ‘softer’ elements of the building and its users too, such as space allocation, asset monitoring and booking schedules.

Despite these additional pressures and the more complex remit, facilities managers need to ensure that buildings are safe and provide a healthy and comfortable environment for users. The latest digitisation innovations, in the form of computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) systems, are helping to take care of day-to-day maintenance and repair tasks so that facilities managers can focus on the bigger picture.

CAFM System on a tablet

What is a CAFM system?

CAFM systems are facilities management software solutions that can carry out a wide range of tasks on behalf of the facilities manager. They are designed to take on day-to-day tasks, simplify systems, store information, create audit trails and provide reporting. CMMS Software (Computerised Maintenance Management System software), such as PlanRadar, is a subset of CAFM systems and focuses on the simplification of maintenance and repair processes.

Maintaining buildings within the wider scope of the facilities manager role

Despite the growing scope of the facilities manager role, the main focus must always be on efficiently managing the building and its infrastructure and how it can best serve the people who live and work in it.

More often, facilities managers manage large and varied portfolios, which contain complex technology including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, computer servers and elevators. These power-hungry systems require close management and preventative management to optimise energy efficiency, decrease running costs and increase return on investment. Breakdowns can have far-reaching and unpredictable effects and result in costly repair costs and emergency call-out charges.

Facilities managers have a finely balanced role to play, ensuring comprehensive preventative maintenance plans that protect valuable assets against breakdown while optimising their own resources, time and manpower to make this happen. Safe buildings remain the prime focus and preventative maintenance and prompt resolution of breakdowns helps to keep building users safe.

Although preventative maintenance offers huge advantages, the reality can be complex. Paper-based documents, out-of-date building plans, version control and siloed databases can lead to problems. Facilities managers face duplication of effort as team members and third-party contractors struggle to find accurate information or the resources they need to carry out time-sensitive tasks. In the event of a breakdown, these issues are magnified still further.

Digitisation through CAFM systems mitigates these problems by providing one central place for all data, tasks, blueprints and asset documentation. You can even combine paper-based documents and separate databases to form a single point of truth.

PlanRadar – A CAFM system to take care of your audit, maintenance and repair tasks

PlanRadar is a CAFM system that takes digitisation one step further, not only providing a single source of truth but also the tools needed to complete audits and plan, assign, schedule and record maintenance and repair projects. Better still, all necessary information is available at the touch of a button on your smartphone, whether you are a senior manager running portfolio reports or a third-party contractor carrying out emergency repair work.

Pre-defined audits

A full suite of pre-defined audit templates is available via PlanRadar, fully customisable for specific audits, building structures and assets. Alternatively, you can create your own from scratch. This centrally created audit templates for document control can then be rolled out to assessors for completion. Checklists connected to plans or equipment manuals make audits simple. Any required work is flagged to supervisors who can allocate tasks to skilled workers. The user can document and save the full audit and any remedial actions, generating a full audit trail for reporting.

Facility managers can locate tag assets within the system and upload any relevant documentation. The digitisation of the asset and its documents means that all data is available for whoever needs it. No more data siloes, out-of-date spreadsheets or paper copies.

Preventative maintenance

Regularly inspecting buildings and servicing machinery and technology can flag potential issues before they arise. This allows for timely intervention that might prevent big, unexpected breakdowns from occurring.

PlanRadar can keep track of maintenance tasks, alerting facilities managers when inspections or servicing need to be completed. Facilities managers can send checklists and supporting documentation directly to the contractor. Even third-party contractors can access the PlanRadar tool for free through their smartphone. The contractor can then flag any follow-up work or additional expenditure to a supervisor for sign-off in real-time. Following this, contractors can complete the additional work needed straight away, with access to all the information they need.

Fast repairs

From time-to-time breakdowns will happen, it is inevitable in the complex environments that we operate in. When it happens, PlanRadar is there to help contractors and facilities managers to swiftly organise and complete the repair. Blueprints can be uploaded for every level and building that a facilities manager oversees. Any user can raise a task and attach it to a digital blueprint before assigning it to a contractor or assessor to complete. They can add detailed information about the breakdown or repair to the ticket. This includes images, voice or typed notes and schedules, checklists or manuals. Supervisors can then monitor the progress of the task, enforcing deadlines or granting extensions as necessary.

The real power in CAFM systems

CAFM systems are effective in many ways, but their real power lies in their ability to save time and money. PlanRadar customers tell us that our facilities management software saves them, on average, 7 hours a week. Simplifying everyday tasks accounts for most of this saved time. When you automate the management, planning and documentation of audit, maintenance and repair tasks, facilities managers are freed to spend time on value-added projects. They can mobilise their workforce to drive efficiencies and make buildings work harder for the people who work, rest and play in them.

Try PlanRadar for 30-days free and see for yourself the efficiency savings you could make through a CAFM system.