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Computer Aided FM Going Mainstream

15 June 2007

This article is reprinted from EuroFM Insighe Issue 3 - This report relates to the development and use of CAFM in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and examines the similarities and differences between the three countries. The author predicts a slow but continuous market penetration using established products and technologies.

The CAFM market in Germany
The development of Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) in Germany goes back to the beginning of the nineties. Since then, the interest in CAFM has grown continuously. In Germany, the topic “IT in Facilities Management” has been driven primarily by the CAFM work group of the German Facility Management Association (GEFMA), both from an academic and a practical point of view.

Taking the right approach when introducing and using IT tools to support FM is the key to success. The performance and capabilities of today’s CAFM software are considerable. Since the early nineties, the number of CAFM software systems available has increased to about 50 and several market leaders, such as Allfa, Aperture, BuiSy, Famos, Planon, Speedikon FM and Visual FM have emerged from within this group. Experts estimate thenumber of “live” installations of “classic” CAFM systems to be in the order of 2200, with no more than 10,000 CAFM workstations [1].

Meanwhile, a number of successful projects have emerged in different market sectors. However, it is often unclear how to approach a successful introduction and implementation of CAFM and how its economic value can be estimated and demonstrated [1, 2]. In the majority of cases, one of the main difficulties is the long implementation periods associated with CAFM.

Trends and perspectives
CAFM is increasingly becoming an indispensable standard technology for the successful implementation of FM as a strategic corporate concept. Process models and guidelines [1, 2] are being developed in order to help companies to prepare the introduction of CAFM and to assist them during its implementation.

CAFM systems are increasingly turning into process-oriented integration platforms created on the basis of state-of-the-art software architectures and technologies, such as, for example, Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) and Web services. There is still work to do on the standardization of interfaces and new data acquisition methods are expected to make an appearance. Mobile technologies will make their way into more and more FM areas. This evolution will significantly increase the significance of CAFM within FM organizations.

CAFM in Austria
CAFM is a popular tool within the Austrian FM sector. Even so, the currently available systems, which have an explicit commercial or technical orientation, are still not connected to one another in any way. Outside the FM sector, CAFM can be found in approximately 18% of the companies and can thus be considered as “popular”. CAFM is interesting for real estate management companies because it provides functions, such as order processing and resource planning, which are not available in traditional account-oriented property management systems. Today’s users also expect commercial functions, such as budget planning, controlling and ERP, to be integrated into the software. FM service companies are technology oriented and often require maintenance software (IPS systems) with additional commercial functionality.

CAFM enjoys greater popularity in those sectors which make direct use of real estate. There is thus a new interest for CAFM in the housing sector, especially where there is an obligation regarding legally regulated accountability.

In the order of 150 CAFM installations are estimated, with 20 to 30 new projects being developed every year. There are relatively few independent software development initiatives. The market leaders in Austria are: Aperture, speedikon FM, Allfa, PitFM, Planon and Buisy. Products such as KeyLogic, ArchiFM, FaMe-FM, Archibus/FM, but also geographical information systems (GIS) such as MapGuide still have a relatively limited market share. The use of SAP for FM-related tasks is also known to have increased. The proportion of individual CAFM solutions not based on standard products is of approximately 20%.

The total turnover in the CAFM sector is estimated to be around 4 million euro, with nearly 40% being generated by software licenses and the largest part being attributed to the provision of CAFM services. The last two years have witnessed a growth of approx. 5-10%.

Trends and perspectives
Initially, the drive is towards Front Office solutions such as Helpdesks and Booking tools. The interest in Webbased software is on the rise. The use of SLAs in conjunction with FM services is becoming more generalized. Approximately one third of the users utilize Web-based solutions. The integration of FM-relevant software is one of the most problematic issues being addressed, while SAP/CAFM integration is continuously increasing.

The first solutions to tackle the obvious interaction between CAFM and portfolio management are starting to emerge. Any outstanding integration problems are currently being addressed to a large extent by the use of new technologies such as SOA. Lastly, mobile technologies are envisaged to become a standard. The implementation of these technologies is held back mainly by the lack of standards, insufficient know-how, wrong expectations and inadequate process thinking.

CAFM in Switzerland
During the last years, CAFM has not always been popular in Switzerland. The high expectations placed on CAFM in the late nineties were not always (fully) met. Today’s expectations are however more realistic. Even though CAFM is a discussion topic [2] with every introduction of FM, investments in CAFM are nonetheless rather modest.

The use of IT is widespread in the areas of commercial FM and technical FM (especially maintenance management). In the case of infrastructural FM, CAFM is slightly less popular. However, cable management systems are in frequent use.

The implementation of CAFM software has been driven primarily by the banking and insurance sectors, which, to some extent, have been using CAFM successfully for more than 15 years. But the chemical and pharmaceutical industries have also played their part in pioneering this technology. In contrast, the interest in the public sector is only just emerging. It is also worth mentioning technology parks and industrial parks, where CAFM is often coupled with the building control systems. Lastly, not only the large former public enterprises, but also the FM service providers can be included in the list of CAFM users. So far, CAFM has not been able to make its way into the service sector (with the exception of FM) and has only gained limited popularity with real estate companies and individual retail centers.

About 100 complex CAFM solutions are estimated to be installed in Switzerland, but accurate numbers are unknown. These CAFM solutions are distributed over the following areas: Chemical industry, airports, industry, cantons, retail industry, town administrations and universities. A large number of data base supported solutions covering particular sections of FM can be added to the above.

There are relatively few independent software development initiatives. Probably the most successful CAFM software actually produced in Switzerland is Byron/BIS from Byron Informatik AG. In addition to that, there are also some other products from Switzerland, such as swissfm tool or the InterDialog system, the latter being used particularly in the commercial FM area. A further noteworthy package is the entirely web-based Management Information System, e-fm, which is based on Data Warehouse Technology. The market leaders in Switzerland are: speedikon FM, Aperture, Planon, Byron/BIS, Buisy, Allfa and FacilityCenter. The use of SAP for FMrelated tasks has also increased.

Although the proportion of individual CAFM software development efforts amounts to approximately 50% and is therefore relatively high, the overall tendency is, however, decreasing. About 70% of the solutions based on standard CAFM software needs to be customized in order to meet user requirements.

The total revenue from CAFM sales in Switzerland is estimated to approximately 5 million euro or 7.5 million Swiss Franks, of which approximately 20% is attributed to software licenses and approximately 80% comes from CAFM services. A substantial growth of 20-30% is anticipated in the immediate future.

Trends and perspectives
The most important point to be noted is probably the issue of integration, with current solutions pointing towards the use of modern interface technologies. There is, for instance, an increasing demand for integration with ERP systems (SAP or Navision) and with building control systems. All the solutions offered must be web-based. The application of mobile technologies in daily routine tasks such as maintenance is increasing considerably. Finally, with the demand for locationindependent access to FM data, there is also a requirement for leaner systems, simplified data collection and quicker returns.

The author identifies unrealistic expectations of the users, unclear targets, a non-transparent market and resource problems as the main obstacles to the success of CAFM. A further issue hindering the successful implementation of CAFM are on standardized FM procedures. In addition to the above, there are also significant problems with regard to the tendering processes, which are sometimes totally inadequate. There are still instances where CAFM is mistaken with a procurement process. Two further problems are inadequate or a total lack of support from the management, as well as a lack of acceptance by the personnel involved.

Moreover, future FM specialists are faced with a large variety of requirements with respect to their training and further training, even though the communication of a system philosophy is more important than detailed knowledge about the operation of the different systems. Knowledge about FM processes and economic viability studies of an IT project are regarded as very important.

It is expected that CAFM will become an established standard for FM support within the next five years and, in that period of time, the discussion about the real meaning of FM and CAFM is expected to be concluded.CAFM is anticipated to be used in most companies and in the public sector because of the need to meet the requirement for all the information on operating and investment costs to be available faster and from anywhere. The author expects a slow but continuous market penetration using established products and technologies. New CAFM providers will not find it easy to establish themselves in the market. FM functions will be increasingly integrated into ERP solutions.

[1] May, M. (Publisher): IT im Facility Management erfolgreich einsetzen – Das CAFM-Handbuch. 2. edition, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York, 2006
[2] May, M.; Madritsch, T.; König, T.; Meier, J.; Scharer, M.: Computer Aided Facility Management im deutschsprachigen Raum – CAFMPraxiserfahrungen aus Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, Kufstein, Berlin, 2007 (ISBN: 978-3-931221-44-7)

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