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Building a Business Case for CAFM Software Procurement

CAFM

23/04/21 | Rebecca Drewett

The start of your CAFM software journey can be the most challenging – getting the seal of approval from your company’s stakeholders. Here, find out what to include in a comprehensive business case that will compel others to get your proposal off the ground.

As the complexities of facilities management expand and evolve, more and more professionals are recognising the transformative impact that CAFM software can have on their current practices.

These systems unlock a world of possibilities in streamlining workflow, minimising costs and identifying smarter business processes. But, they are a significant investment – and in uncertain economic climates, any investment will need strong justification before it gets the green light.

Securing company-wide buy-in for CAFM software is not straightforward, especially to people unfamiliar with the scope and responsibilities of FM. It is sadly all too common for executives to look at the immediate project time and cost, without paying due consideration to the long-term savings and benefits that will come once the solution is in place.

To emphasise these advantages and encourage investment often requires a strong business case. Here, we will explain what this is and what it needs to include to capture the imagination of those who hold the keys to this project’s launch.

What is a Business Case?

The goal of any business case is to clearly explain the nature of the project or product you require funding for, outline why there is such a pressing need for this solution, and present the return on investment that the company will receive once it is implemented.

CAFM software is just one example of a solution that will require a business case to receive the green light from your organisation’s executive layer. It helps to ensure that those who aren’t as aware of the functions of the FM team and the specifics of this technology can understand what it will do and why that will be beneficial for the business as a whole.

Who Does Your Business Case Need to Convince?

Typically, the most common teams involved in the procurement of CAFM software are:

  • Finance – this layer will be responsible for your budgets, and therefore one of the most vital teams to convince of the ROI of these systems
  • IT – these teams can often be hesitant to change existing practices, and will need to be reassured of any software’s benefits and how it will integrate with existing technology
  • Operations – these teams will be actively involved in the process of implementing the project and meeting relevant deadlines
  • Senior Management – these professionals are the key decision-makers, and will need to sign-off any sizeable investment such as this before it can be pursued

Before building your business case, consider the following:

  • Which departments depend on the information you provide?
  • Who holds the budget behind this potential project?
  • Are there internal champions who can help you get this over the line?
  • Which teams will be directly enabled by the software you are seeking to implement?

It is also important to note here that your business case is not solely about securing the budget you need to launch this project. Buy-in means so much more than an investment – it means getting teams engaged with the proposed solution.

Especially for something like CAFM software that can touch and support every aspect of your organisation, if one department doesn’t buy-in to the solution, it can severely hinder its ability to deliver its full potential, meaning you don’t get the full return on your investment.

Building Your CAFM Business Case

Now you have a better idea of the purpose of a business case and who you will need to convince with it, below we breakdown the essential elements of these documents and how to maximise the potential of each in securing company-wide buy-in for CAFM software.

Establish the context of your FM practices

A strong starting point for your CAFM software business case is painting a clear picture of your current processes and the duties of your FM team.

While the role of facilities management as an industry has gained greater recognition, particularly following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be wrong to assume that everyone in your company understands the pressures on your team and your role in how the organisation functions day in and day out.

Outline every core function you fulfil (maintenance, space management, security, project management, etc.) and describe how that supports how your facilities perform. If possible, provide any facts or statistics that evidence these assertions:

  • How many meeting rooms do you manage and how frequently are they booked?
  • How many calls does your helpdesk receive, and how many tasks are completed within the set SLAs?
  • What is the total value of your assets across your facilities?
  • How many employees/customers do your services affect on a daily basis?

This will help firmly illustrate your department’s importance to your whole organisation, putting you in a strong position to argue that something like a CAFM system can take the work you do to another level.

To further demonstrate this, compile a list of your department’s strengths and weaknesses, again providing evidence where possible. Be completely authentic with what you believe your team excels at and where they fall down due to the current processes. You might break this down into each specific function, under headings such as:

  • Communication
  • Efficiency
  • Data Accuracy
  • Resources Used
  • Morale
  • Employee/Client Perception

Once these are identified and laid out in your business case, a core priority of the remainder of this presentation is to explain how CAFM software will turn your weaknesses into strengths, and enhance your existing strengths even further.

Identify the KPIs of this project

Once you’ve provided the context of your existing FM department and practices, it is important to pinpoint what your KPIs are for the project you are proposing. These are the goals and benchmarks that will determine whether your solution is running successfully or not, so they need careful consideration.

These will likely be based on the weaknesses you identified earlier, and how you expect your CAFM software to remove the problems in these areas. Your KPIs could therefore include:

  • Better oversight and management of subcontractors when brought on-site
  • Build a deeper recognition of asset performance and lifecycles
  • Gaining access to analytics that will enhance efficiency and lead to better business-wide decision-making
  • Automating PPM schedules to make maintenance tasks more agile and manageable
  • Clearing backlogs of deferred work, and ensuring urgent tasks are dealt with in a timely fashion

Whatever your KPIs, you need to articulate their importance to the overall functionality of your business in a way that resonates with your internal stakeholders. Remember, they won’t be as concerned with the finicky details of how the software works as you are – they fundamentally want to know the value that it will bring.

Introduce CAFM software

While stakeholders outside of your FM team might not need to know CAFM software inside-out like you do, it is beneficial in your business case to provide a concise introduction to this software. This will give those that aren’t familiar with this technology a base level of understanding that can enhance how they engage with the rest of your proposal.

  • Explain what the software is and how it works
  • Give examples of typical modules that would integrate into it
  • Outline how it can be delivered

If you have already identified the CAFM provider you intend to partner with, communicate with them to see if they can produce a digestible overview of their own system to incorporate within your business case.

This specific information may help your stakeholders grasp how it works better than needing to remain vague about how these solutions typically function – CAFM software can be very diverse depending on the supplier.

The hard and soft benefits of CAFM software

To properly emphasise the advantages that CAFM software will offer your department and company overall, you will need to present a list of hard and soft benefits:

Hard benefits are based on actual figures, allowing you to demonstrate the ROI on how the software will improve performance.

Soft benefits are less straightforward to track from a cost-saving perspective, but still offer tangible benefits to your organisation.

Hard benefits are the more important of these two, as they are factors that can be clearly estimated and later used to illustrate the effectiveness of the software post-implementation. For example, you may pinpoint benefits such as:

  • The average time reduction for maintenance work, from distribution of tasks through to task sign-off
  • The cost savings of assets running longer through regular maintenance as opposed to the cost of repairs, replacements and downtime
  • The cost reduction of SLA penalties due to better-managed work practices
  • The time reduction over managing and overseeing tasks
  • The cost savings based on better space utilisation across all facilities

These are just some examples of hard benefits that can form the crux of your business case. It is therefore crucial to work with your chosen/preferred CAFM provider to deliver good estimates of the time and cost savings their system can deliver based on your existing practices.

Alongside this you might include soft benefits that, while not offering any exact cost-saving, lend themselves to an overall better working environment:

  • Improvements in how your wider employees interact with your FM team
  • Ensuring optimal working conditions at all times through smart building solutions
  • Moving away from complex, bulky or confusing work practices
  • Giving more people access to accurate, valuable data to guide future developments

Emphasising both hard and soft benefits will be critical to convincing your stakeholders of the value that CAFM software offers, encouraging them to invest for the greater long-term good of the business.

Department-specific advantages

You might decide to break down the benefits of CAFM software in even greater detail by identifying how it will specifically serve the interests of each department.

This approach can be incredibly useful as it will speak directly to each of your stakeholders’ own interests, which will help them understand exactly how these systems will benefit them and their team. Always lead with the acronym WIIFM – what’s in it for me?

You could illustrate this in a straightforward table or presentation identifying a department’s main challenge and the benefit the CAFM solution will offer. For example:

Finance Department

Challenge: Lack of visibility over stock levels and when replenishment is required.

Solution: Introduction of a stock control module that automatically tracks levels in real-time and sends requests for replenishments when stock falls below a certain threshold.

Risk mitigation

A good business case will demonstrate how the business will function with and without the proposed solution. This includes the current risks or concerns that your business faces, and how the CAFM software will mitigate these once implemented.

For this component of your business case, consider:

  • How often do events happen that incur unnecessary costs?
  • How prepared is your organisation for a major problem? (e.g. flood, earthquake, pandemic, etc.)
  • What equipment failure would be detrimental to the company?
  • Is your business currently at risk of failing compliance or not meeting SLAs?

Once these main risks are identified, relate these back to the benefits and KPIs that you specified earlier in the proposal, and clarify what consequences these risks can have on the future of your company:

  • Huge fines for non-compliance
  • Damage to overall reputation
  • Large penalties for SLA failures
  • Loss of business or revenue

Project scope and cost

Now that you’ve set out the case for your proposal as demonstrably as possible, it is time to answer the two key questions your stakeholders will need answered:

  1. How long will the software take to implement?
  2. How much will it cost to install and run?

With a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, gain some ballpark estimations from your chosen CAFM vendor, including different versions of their solution and the various pros and cons you’ve identified for each.

In terms of how long the implementation will take, you should present a top-level project plan, again with insight from your chosen vendor. This will demonstrate to stakeholders what they can anticipate from this project and how their departments will contribute to each milestone, so there are no unwanted surprises when your proposal is given the green light.

Ensure you include the cost of involvement from other department resources, which will underlie the initial price of implementing the platform, and then the license fee that will cover the ongoing cost of the system. Remember, a CAFM solution is never “plug and play” – this is a long-term partnership you're entering with the software provider.

Also, a good rule of thumb is to include an additional 10%-30% contingency budget. If unforeseen problems do impact the implementation process, then you need to have the budget available to correct this.

Bolstering The Strength of Your Business Case

The sheer game-changing potential of CAFM software across an entire organisation can potentially be the cause of some internal resistance, as some may have become wedded to their existing practices.

In order to minimise the risk of this, and to enhance the strength of your final proposal, it may be worthwhile to deliver mini-business cases to various professionals and departments within your organisation. By generating these “champions” to support your cause, it will further compel your key stakeholders to hear the proposal out and enact the change you are seeking.

Again, remember to speak to these groups in a language they will understand, and emphasising benefits that resonate with them. Facilities management is littered with acronyms and technical jargon that mean a lot to you, but will be gibberish to those outside the industry. Avoid these where possible and always communicate your case at your recipient’s level.

How FSI Helps You Build Your Business Case

The power of the right CAFM software can positively revolutionise every aspect of how your buildings operate day-to-day. This makes the importance of effectively justifying these systems essential in compelling people to look beyond the initial price-tag and understand the incredible benefits they will receive in the long term.

We hope that this guide to building a strong business case will help you transform the future for your team for the better, and enable your organisation to reap the rewards of a comprehensive CAFM solution.

Because we understand the value of company-wide buy-in for these systems to get off the ground and function at their most effective once implemented, we are more than happy to assist with the development of your own business case for our Concept Evolution platform – the ultimate solution for total building management.

As part of our dedicated consultancy services, we ensure every stage of your CAFM journey is completed flawlessly, providing your organisation with the best possible outcome. This includes collaborating with your FM professionals to determine what you need from our platform, and providing any relevant data to help your proposal get the green light.

Get in touch with our team and start transforming the future of your business today.