Automation And Digital Transformation Insights

CEO of Apiko, an all-around software engineering and digital transformation consulting company that digitizes businesses worldwide.

Most organizations, regardless of their industry, have to deal with facility management (FM). However, when it comes to innovation, first of all we tend to think about our main business activities. Facility management turns out to be an auxiliary function that helps to provide the required conditions for running your organization. That’s why its processes often remain unchanged for an unacceptably long time, resulting in numerous dysfunctions that can hold you back from reaching your primary goals.

Facility management used to be completely business-oriented, but as people spend a large part of their lives at work, the well-being of employees is also coming into focus. You may be more likely to hire top talents if they are granted some social benefits. Moreover, a convenient workspace facilitates collaboration and allows employees to “recharge their batteries” right at the workplace, enhancing productivity.

Driving a lot of attention and time, facility management can put the main business activity at risk of getting neglected, even affecting the quality of products or services and resulting in a worsening user experience. The goal of FM automation is to reliably streamline the workflow, so while it’s seamlessly running in the background, you can concentrate on improving your business.

Facility management software offers valuable tools for digital transformation of the way companies manage and maintain their realty, vehicles and other property. Based on my experiences as CEO of a software development company, here are a few insights on their best implementation.

Define the FM processes in your organization.

Although many facility management problems appear unexpectedly, the majority of tasks are predictable and done on a regular basis. Collaborate with your employees to find out what it takes to solve them. Pay attention to stumbling stones, inefficiencies, paperwork routines, poor communication and any other dysfunctions.

Define simple processes to automate, making sure they are repeatable and easy to review. Implement a task-driven workflow: Let software do the small tasks so you can focus on major business goals.

Develop both a website and a mobile app for different user roles.

There are multiple facility management jobs, starting from administrators and accountants, and finishing with technicians, maintenance staff or service-providing companies. Their different work routines require a few software user roles with corresponding access only to the necessary functionality. Besides data security concerns, for instance, many features from the admin’s profile would be redundant for a technician.

To suit each role’s needs best, develop two software products: a website for companies with an admins’ dashboard and required functionality, and a mobile app that’s accessible on-the-go, with the features necessary for those completing the maintenance tasks.

Consider the software functionality for the best FM automation.

Although each business is unique, many of the FM processes are common. I’ve found that the software modules and their features suggested below can essentially reduce the amount of paperwork and make the timely achievement of your FM goals hassle-free, accurate and transparent. Such website functionality may be exactly what you need.

• Admin dashboard for quality control of the received services, personnel (technicians, maintenance staff, contractors) management and respective website user roles administering: Make it simple to add new user roles and to adjust the existing ones to flexibly adapt to your current FM processes.

• Work order management system to create, prioritize, delegate, search and process tasks and work orders: Chatbot implementation may be a good idea for automation of this system.

• Space and workplace management module: This can help ensure the best utilization and boost your employees’ performance.

• Accounting module that perfectly suits internal business processes and makes them simpler and more efficient: Include accurate invoice processing, banking and financial management, equipment inventorying, custom reports, etc.

• Reports: Include automatically collected statistics and analytics on tasks completion, KPIs, assets, purchase orders, staff activity and work duration, contracts expiration alerts, etc.

• API integrations with the other software used at your company (e.g., for accounting or HR): This allows you to have better data management and synchronization.

The mobile application is a B2B solution that should complement the website and automate the workflow between your business and service providers (technicians, maintenance staff, contractors). Streamlining the tasks completion can help you make the most of your facility management digital transformation. Consider the following mobile workforce management app functionality:

• The technician lead’s profile: Include the ability to assign and prioritize tasks, along with tracking performance analytics.

• All users: Include functionalities for tasks filtering, making notes, adding time spent on task completion, indicating the inventory and consumables it required, automatic reports generation with many adjustable templates, etc.

Make sure the FM software UI is intuitive and that workers don’t need any special skills to easily navigate through the app.

Business processes often change multiple times, reflecting the rapid development of technologies and changing social and demographic tendencies. Make sure the system you develop is flexible and customizable, so you can easily adjust it to your current needs.

Build an MVP first to collect users’ feedback and optimize the software so it’s maximally efficient and convenient. Be aware that the final applications you develop will still require updating and maintenance. It will ensure their best effectiveness corresponding to changing business processes and technology developments.

What are the future needs of FM?

Although FM deals with both planned tasks and unexpected emergencies, it’s crucial to define its processes and align them with your business. With the ever-changing rhythm of life, an increasing number of work orders and a broadening spectrum of products and services, more and more commonly manual facility management operations will likely rely on automation. Digitalization, machine learning algorithms and AI can facilitate this process. Decreasing bureaucracy can bring more transparency and clarity, as well as save lots of time.

Working toward making processes simple, reviewable and automated is a great way to reach operational excellence.


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