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Shopping for CAFM


21/12/15 | Sally Wotton

Retail and CAFM have always been a good match. But with retail now one of the fastest moving and most competitive business sectors FMJ hears from industry experts to find out why there has never been a better time to take the benefits of automated facilities management to the heart of the business, where it counts: on the shop floor itself.


"With more than 25 years' experience in developing and delivering cross-industry CAFM solutions, FSI has seen a rise in demand from retailers for intuitive systems that help them to improve the management of their estate, assets and trading environment.

"That's why it makes sense to offer Concept, FSI's flagship CAFM software, in a version that is tailored to the specific requirements of the increasingly mobilised, app-hungry retail sector - a recognition that it is business users on the shop floor, rather than behind-the-scenes technologists, who are driving demand for software that answers their immediate needs.

"The benefits extend all the way to the top of the business. Concept gathers and reports on real time data that allows the retailer to react quickly to events, while maintaining operations in a cost-effective and efficient way that will impact directly on the bottom line.

"But with the flexibility and extensive functionality of Concept itself, and FSI GO, the mobile CAFM app development platform, retailers can take charge of their assets and spaces in new and more responsive ways - without having to start from scratch every time a new store is opened.

"Making the connection between an event on the shop floor - whether it is a fridge failure, a slip/trip alert or a dead light bulb in a display area - and the overall performance of the building is a matter of growing strategic importance, inextricably linked with the retailer's compliance, security and safety policies.

"But it is only recently that leading retailers have woken up to the benefits of introducing remote monitoring for their legacy refrigeration equipment, for example. Gathering information about an asset's gas usage or refrigerant discharge can help the property manager make important decisions about replacement and upgrades more quickly.

"Concept anticipated the advent of the Internet of Things with its focus on asset connectivity and mapping: software that receives real-time information and does intelligent things with it - not just raising alerts, but reflecting the long-term impact of those events on the day-to-day operation of the building and assets.

"The range of this data helps retailers to build a complete picture of asset performance, its impact on the business and the efficient allocation of maintenance resources. Putting that information in the heads of end-users on the shop floor takes CAFM out of the IT silo - and pushes the information directly to the app on whatever mobile device they are using.

"And in the age of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) an app that everyone can access simply by logging on to their smartphone is an attractive alternative to the overhead of providing tablets for access across the shop floor - and the need for a complex portfolio of multiple bespoke apps that demand contact input and support from the IT department.

"The key to FSI GO's mobile proposition for retail is the simplicity of building a questionnaire-based app that can tailored to deliver the relevant information for any particular job - making deployment straightforward and easy.

"This fluent, reiterative model scales all the way up the retail business. For retail chains a CAFM system based on a template of pre-written mobilisation routines means that new shoes can be brought online quickly and efficiently, using the retailer's profile and pre-set KPIs - allowing the property manager to focus on local adjustments to the time and maintenance regime, and the provision of performance updates to head office.

"Concept has evolved to reflect an era of exciting change in retail's use of technology. As retailers gain a better understanding of the relationship between the performance of their property and environment, and managing events on the shop floor, their desire to use that information strategically - beyond the cycle of maintenance, alarms and repairs - is growing daily.

"In Concept, they have a 21st-century solution that delivers the benefits of instant access to integrated, real-time data - in a sector where it can make a significant difference to every retailer's bottom line."

CAFM Explorer

Claire Visser, director, CAFM Explorer gave her view: "We are seeing an increasing pressure for compliance and auditability to be recorded and managed correctly - extremely important for a public facing environment. A good CAFM software solution should allow senior management to monitor and control costs across multi-site locations and manage the multitude of leases, tenancy agreements and key activities required in the retail sector.

"However, we are also seeing a movement of ownership and responsibilities to the ‘shop-floor' - individual retail outlets need a simple and intuitive online facility for issue logging. Room booking and helpdesk functionality are increasingly in demand.

"As well as installing CAFM Explorer in what would be considered ‘traditional' retail environments, we have also worked with museums, casinos and event venues - all customer facing ‘retail' environments which have their own individual issues and requirements when it comes to 'shop-floor' facilities management, requiring flexible and intuitive solutions in each case."

Service Works Group

Gary Watkins, CEO Service Works Group added: "Pressure from a reduced footfall on the high street, due to more and more shoppers choosing to shop online from the comfort of their home or preferring the convenience of retail parks, means that high street retailers are constantly challenged to improve their offer. Competition and price pressure are forcing high street retailers to become leaner and more efficient. Staying ahead of the retail game, doing more for less to create brand appeal and enhance the customer experience, is a difficult task. Store staff need to be able to focus their time on customer services and sales.

"Yet well maintained premises are a key ingredient for optimising operational efficiency, ensuring a safe shopping environment and maintaining a strong retail brand. Ensuring that the facilities are maintained in top condition is a major overhead which requires a significant contribution of management and staff time and resource. A quality FM software solution can help to deal with these retail challenges.

"While adding value to the business through a growing portfolio of outlets, British high street clothing brand Fat Face is challenged to create its trademark outdoor look-and-feel for each store through demanding fit out projects, as well as meeting the increased need to control maintenance. Access to web-based self-service CAFM tools can empower store-based staff by streamlining job logging, improving communication and reducing rectification times.

"Fat Face has implemented a centralised CAFM helpdesk solution from Service Works to support effective facilities, property and contractor management at its head office and stores across the UK. This enables stores to operate and look their best by logging maintenance jobs over the web, allocating the most appropriate contractor to the job and managing director service delivery. The results are reduced paperwork, quicker fix times and significant efficiency and cost savings.

"The software provides Fat Face with complete transparency of asset performance and visibility of data for lifecycle costing and management. It identifies and analyses the elements that affect reliability, servicing and repair, highlighting the most cost effective method of maintaining an asset and evaluating its true operating cost over a period of time. This links with the system's health and safety module to ensure that places and people are kept as safe as possible

"As the cost of commercial property rents rise, space increasingly becomes a vital resource for the high street retailer. CAFM can help businesses understand the cost, operational performance and environmental impact of the space, fixtures and fittings in their portfolio. Integrating FM software with other operational systems, such as building management systems, stock control and accounting packages, HR tools, security access and environmental management systems further allows high street stores to optimise operational efficiency and strengthen their retail brand."

Cloud FM

Cloudfm CEO, Jeff Dewing says that the process must be underpinned by the right approach and governance: "Cloudfm is the fastest growing FM provider in the UK, and in large part this is due to our success in retail - a sector that has traditionally been considered challenging by virtue of its dual focus on quality and cost. For example, in our first year of working with fashion group Aurora (incorporating Warehouse, Karen Millen, Coast and Oasis), we reduced their total maintenance spend by 17 per cent, followed by a further 22 per cent in year two. During the same period, we reduced the reactive breakdown count by 50 per cent, service quality improved and we were retained by all four brands in 2015.

"Our bespoke system tracks all maintenance activity at site level, by then minute, from the time an engineer arrives to the time he leaves. It also enables engineers to record task information, communicate with the helpdesk and upload service sheets in real time. All of this you'd expect from a decent CAFM system, of course, and indeed many of our clients come to us having used such a system for many years. Which begs the question of why they've decided to change provider, if the technology delivers as advertised.

"Based on our experience, and what clients tell us, I suggest that automated FM systems offer little additional value to retailers - unless they're built on a fundamentally different set of principles to the tried and failed FM model. Using our system as the example, not only are we capturing engineer attendance time exactly, but we also require that service sheets are uploaded and parts information is added before the engineer departs.

"However the crucial difference is that only the engineer on site can input this information, and it cannot be changed later by the contractor, the client or Cloudfm. Each task is then audited by the client on the shop floor, adding another layer of performance management at task level, and the data flow unchanged through to invoicing.

"And it doesn't stop there. Automated processes take us so far, but we have a highly trained team behind the scenes who vet every application for payment (which facilitates a consolidated invoice). They also benchmark parts and labour, and enforce our industry-leading SLAs designed to ensure first time fix and reduce secondary invoicing through inefficiencies such as quote requests and additional visits. These processes are happening in real time, in full view of our clients and contractors. Our goal is to create a culture of partnership and continuous improvement, which automated CAFM systems simply can't achieve.

"In order to compete in such a fast-paced and competitive environment, retailers need a dynamic tool at their fingertips which incentivises performance and controls job volume and cost. There's more to the Cloudfm approach, but it is these attributes, and not just our IT technology, that delivers the real value."