There are many companies out there using spreadsheets to manage property maintenance issues. When the number of tasks is low, this is a generally accepted method of recording maintenance work, but as the portfolio/size of the estate grows, so does the headache of coordinating so many maintenance requests with numerous stakeholders, not to mention the risks of errors when manually entering data.
Here at the RAM blog, we love an interview! So we recently sat down with our FM expert account manager, Richard Exley, to discuss some of the advantages of a specialist solution over a spreadsheet-based system.
Why would you suggest that companies with growing property/facilities management requirements make the move from spreadsheets to a specialist system?
There are many advantages. Software that has been specifically designed for the purpose of managing an asset estate will increase the reliability of data. Systemising all maintenance information ensures that there is a complete audit trail of all works completed, with updates date/user stamped so building and facilities managers can refer back to the person(s) responsible for handling the work when required.
Keeping completely accurate records also helps organisations to comply with Health & Safety guidelines, minimising legal issues. Specialist software enables simple management of large volumes of work requests, inspections, servicing and contractor management. Certificate and document management, photographic evidence and detailed work order histories support users as they strive to improve processes and accountability. Through intelligent workflows, most tasks can be triggered automatically, often with configurable alerts sent directly to maintenance teams, occupants and contractors.
Would implementing FM software improve the experience of customers or employees?
Specialist FM enhances user-experience of both property tenants and staff members immensely. The ability to submit requests instantly 24/7 will help companies provide a better service and will save customers the time of leaving messages and waiting for a call back. Formalising the occupant request process, often captured through online portals, reduces the manpower required to field incoming issues. Occupant access to such platforms is normally available 24/7/365, with essential information captured each time. Initial workflow responses can be automated too, as even the best FM teams take a day off!
The automated aspect of FM software is also highly beneficial for organisations. Triggers can be configured so that email alerts are sent to tenants and employees whenever certain criteria are met or with general information on the status of the query – having an alert automatically sent out to a customer notifying them that, “The engineer is on their way” keeps them up to date. Whilst keeping the customer updated, it also saves on administration time and reduces the number of calls fielded by maintenance co-ordinators. The automation enables companies to become more efficient and leads to a cost-saving benefit via the reduced administrative labour output.
Does FM software feature any capacity for Contractor Management?
Specialist FM software certainly does! Vital information can be recorded against each contractor record, such as certification dates, trade memberships and qualifications. Certificates and other documents can be attached to records and ensures that users can verify that the selected contractor is adequately qualified for jobs they have been assigned. These features assist with Health & Safety compliance and alerts prompt proactive involvement from regular contractors.
Can systems help spread knowledge across the organisation?
Definitely! In a lot of cases spreadsheets/legacy systems are set up by individuals no longer working with the organisation. This can lead to the company becoming reliant on the knowledge passed on from individuals no longer present to manage systems. As key members of staff leave or retire, the organisation can find itself with a big gap in knowledge and may struggle with getting other staff members to grips with the systems. To ensure that companies are not exposed by this risk, FM software providers will offer consultancy services and staff training to ensure that a shortage of knowledge does not occur.