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Vishal Mani, Country Head of MCS, shares a brief on how Facility Management is moving on to the digital platform and the areas that can be digitalised to simplify processes.


The evolution of modern buildings has revolutionised the role of facility management in current epoch. The considerations towards occupier satisfaction, sustainability, costs, risk management and brand perception make this role extremely demanding. And this turns into a challenge when organization encounters sub-trained manpower to handle the FM processes.

In such scenarios, the need for technology enablement comes to the fore to reduce dependence on individuals. It will not be absurd to say that among the typical organizations; facility operations quite often lag the other business functions in adopting technology. For last 30-40 years, ERPs, CRMs, HRMS, SCMs and several other enterprise solutions have been driving the organization processes towards business excellence. However, an integrated facility management solution is still considered a novelty at many places.

Considering the maturity and acceptance levels of organizations, the technology enablement in facility domain can be stacked up in 4 levels as per the following diagram.

Level 1: It is the most traditional model of executing facility operations, where the use of technology is limited to office applications. The processes are dependent on the bright gems of facility team aka super stars, who processes service requests on phone calls limiting the mechanism to track closures. Assets, maintenance plans, legal compliances, energy consumption and checklists are mostly listed down on paper or excel sheets, which ensures that tasks are completed but precludes the team to measure KPIs in short time frame. The biggest drawback of this model the is lack of insight and aggregated reporting at any level.

Level 2: Companies operating at level 2 adopts technology for facility operations but often ends up deploying disparate systems for different processes. Help Desk for service requests, CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) for asset maintenance, BMS for energy controls etc. brings efficiency and transparency in operations. This works well for smaller and medium sized portfolios but opens the gaps while operating for larger organizations.

With the growth in portfolio size, operational parameters need enhanced analysis for better planning. For example, the TCO (total cost of ownership) of an asset can’t be determined unless the data from AMCs (annual maintenance contract), preventive maintenance and reactive breakdowns are available in a single application to take Repair Vs Replace decision. Availability of siloed systems can bring few KPIs, but they need to be consolidated for generating meaningful information required for business decisions.

Level 3: At this level the enterprises bring the three dimensions of Realz Estate, Facilities and Workplace together to get a unified view of their organization operations, which is possible with the help of Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS).

Very often workplace strategies and lifecycle costs of facilities drive the real estate investments.

Likewise, real estate decisions impact the workplace ecosystem and facility operations for a long term.

The performance of these three have major impact on organization’s performance, brand and workforce motivation.

Level 4: At this level the sensor technology and smart touch points transform a constructed building into a true smart building, whereby IoT devices connects the various building systems enabling better monitoring and control Smart buildings are capable of processing data from IWMS systems, IoT devices and various other touch points to enable data flow across building systems. Such connected systems generate large amount of data, which is usually stored and analysed in in big data platforms for enhanced reporting.

To take an example, space occupancy sensors can be deployed at workplaces to monitor the usage and optimise real estate. Additionally, this data coupled with comfort sensors can be used to control the HVAC systems to manage thermal comfort inside the building. Such systems can lead to significant real estate and energy costs savings, which accounts for majority of the facility budget in any organization. The image below showcases the real time space occupancy mapped on the floor plan enabled using sensors.

In addition to the sensors, smart buildings also provide smart touch points for the users to interact with building resources. The next gen workforce is mobile and has gone far beyond desktops and laptops. These smart touch points can be mobile applications, touch screen kiosks, chatbots etc for them to reserve meeting rooms, parking, workplaces or even raise service requests for facility support.

Such systems are essential to create buildings which cater to the aspirations of the occupiers and bring deep usage statistics and controls in the hand of back-end managers.

The next wave of innovation in facility management is heading towards Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics. Companies who have been leveraging IWMS, CAFM, CMMS systems and have interconnected systems based on IoT devices will soon be sitting on huge pile of data. The same data needs to be mined for triggering technical interventions and optimisation.

Conclusively, the technology needs to be evaluated based on business needs and long-term objectives. Facility management plays a key role in brand building and user satisfaction of occupiers. The advantage of IWMS or smart building solutions can conveniently justify the investments and help recover the RoI, provided they are planned and deployed appropriately. The choice of IWMS partner, top management buy-in, business owner involvement along with proper data management & user training goes a long way to make any IWMS solution successful.


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