12 February 2008
Maintaining estates information in the healthcare sector is complex but delivering accurate and timely data to business managers is essential. Frank Booty looks at the implementation of CAFM within the Humber Mental Health NHS Teaching Trust.
THE SITUATION IS PROBABLY ONLY TOO FAMILIAR with most of PFM’s readership: the facilities team being put under great strain with new sites coming on stream, backlogs of data being the norm and a technology-based system past its use-by date causing an extra burden. That was the situation in Hull at the Humber Mental Health Trust.
The Humber Mental Health NHS Teaching Trust is a specialist Mental Health Trust providing services for people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and addictions. It serves the 600,000 people living in Hull and the East Riding area of Yorkshire, as well as providing specialist services nationally.
The facilities department supplies services to the Trust and also to two local Primary Care Trusts. The services supplied revolve around buildings maintenance, hotel services, environmental services and development. Today, Qube Global Software’s Planet CAFM system is being used to report, organise and schedule work at well over 100 sites between Hull, Goole and Bridlington. Contractors and a direct labour team are used to provide these essential services.
Within the department there are 18 members of office-based staff with a direct labour force of 10. Most work is contracted out externally. In the last year, nearly 11,000 work orders were raised and over 90 per cent of these orders were reactive, with 15 per cent being PPM (Planned Preventative Maintenance) initiated.
The previous facilities management information system was DOS-based and was very slow to log data and assets. Humber also found the system very hard to use, causing a backlog of data to build up for sites that required surveying. Keeping pace with new sites coming on line was proving a great strain for the facilities team Qube Global Software was created in September 2007 from the merger of Fraser Williams Commercial Systems, FDS Advanced Systems and Estate Computer Systems, with a portfolio of products including the Horizon, Planet and Qube software systems.
Rob Yates, Humber’s Maintenance FM, said, “Around 2000, the Trust had been formed out of the amalgamation of two others. We wanted to be more up to date, run Windows-based systems, and upgrade our servers and PC systems. We considered upgrading our existing DOS-based system and also looked at some 12 CAFM systems.”
“We narrowed our selection down to five, collected more information, went to see demonstrations at site visits, had vendors come to us and with our business development team prepared a test score sheet,” explained Nik Bygate, Humber’s Facilities Systems Analysis and Support Officer. “We chose Planet and went live in February 2006. Some two years of running have shown we can pull out information a lot faster now and tables are easy to query.”
“We can use it out in the community over the intranet link,” says Bygate. “People are more aware. Jobs can be reported 24x7. There is a better service being offered.”
Planet software provides a single comprehensive solution for facilities needs from work management through to room booking and catering. Planet assists in ensuring more efficient operations, providing a visible service to clients and enabling better control of costs and suppliers.
Essentially, Planet provides: single source for all FM information;
● visibility for the facilities team across the organisation;
● web-based information and communication tools to clients;
● management of costs, control of budgets;
● minimisation of paper trails through automated and streamlined work processes;
● a multi-disciplined Help Desk;
● management of in-house team and monitoring of contractor performance;
● workforce scheduling tools;
● full asset management;
● comprehensive and automated H&S compliance features;
● asbestos management;
● full stores management with interface into purchasing and work orders;
● mobile work order solutions for reduced costs, improved information collection and better H&S controls;
● comprehensive SLA functionality;
● controls for statutory inspections through the planned maintenance module;
● automatic client call response and work completion notification by e-mail;
● feedback questionnaire facility to track qualitative response to service;
● integration to accounting systems; management of facilities budgets independent of finance systems; report writing tools;
● scheduling of automatic production and email of reports;
● management of projects from start to finish – assign work, control the costs and define the timescales;
● and maintenance of unlimited information on the property portfolio.
Planet was selected to replace the previous solution primarily due to its adaptability. Nik Bygate says, “Financially we did not wish to commit to a product that was too expensive, but in turn we did not want to rule out the expansion of the system to cover other areas of facilities management in the future. The modular nature of the system allowed us to choose the most appropriate modules for implementation without having to purchase functions that would not be used at the initial stage.
“Even though the previous DOS-based system was vastly different in structure to Planet FM Enterprise, we managed to extract all the static data required to get Humber up and running as quickly as possible,” Bygate continued. “The ability for all help desk users to view the status of all calls and easily add new ones was a big benefit.”
This help desk system has now been complemented by the browser-based internet solution to the extent that Humber has been able to streamline the help desk with the calls predominantly being logged over the internet.
Planet was initially implemented within the maintenance team as a help desk call logging tool. The help desk takes calls, produces work orders for action by contractors or direct labour. Labour and invoices are then fed back into the system allowing costs to be tracked. Humber’s main minor works contractor is automatically emailed work orders when they are generated.
In addition this contractor has access to the intranet module and is able to check work orders and sign them off as finished reducing the workload of the Trust and ensuring that information is always up to date. The contractor is also able to access the intranet to check the PM schedule that has been set up, which further allows them to plan their own PM schedules.
The transfer of data from FMIS was fairly smooth, however the team took the decision not to transfer work history and PPM schedules. Only asset and location details were transferred. The Planet system holds details of all the maintained properties and the individual assets within them. Also within the system are details of all contractors approved for use, personnel details and rates for the direct labour staff. Eleven people now have access to Planet and seven people use it regularly.
Bygate says, “We have been able to link site plans and asbestos surveys into the system allowing Planet to become a ‘one stop shop’ for building information. This is used not only by the maintenance team, but also by hotel services and development. Since the beginning of the year we have been rolling out Internet access to other sites; currently 46 sites use Planet’s Internet module to not only log calls but also to track their progress.”
“To be on the safe side, we had a month of dual processing with the old FMIS system, but this was not needed as the overall implementation was successful,” says Bygate. “Our Planet consultant was a great help with the follow up, tweaking the data where required, which allowed us to operate the system smoothly from day one.”
“Later this year we expect Humber Mental Health NHS Teaching Trust will be accorded Foundation Trust status,” says Yates. “There is a business case for creating more work, but the Planet system will flex to cope with that.”
Looking to the future, Bygate indicates that “there would be careful assessment of what the market could offer”, while stressing the Trust had upgraded its IT infrastructure when implementing Planet to include enhanced servers and Pentium 4-based PCs – at a time when the software specifications called minimally for Pentium 1-based PC systems.
For its part, Planet has secured some 10 per cent of the NHS Trust CAFM market, says Richard Fisher, director of the Planet division at Qube. Thats a healthy outcome.
● Frank Booty is a freelance journalist
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