Paul Djuric, CEO of Urgent, has been involved in CAFM implementation projects for a wide range of businesses, from single-location operations to complex, multinational corporations. He’s learned many lessons along the way, including how to create a collaborative and structured process, and how to avoid some of the most common mistakes that FMs might make during the early stages.
Here, Paul shares some of those lessons, and offers advice for keeping your own software deployment on track.
What is the most effective way of gathering CAFM requirements?
Operations and procurement teams need to know and agree on what you are trying to achieve, and why, in order to avoid any painful scope creep.
In my experience, getting the right stakeholders in the room to understand and communicate what they need from the project is always the most fruitful way to begin.
FM projects vary in scale, but regardless of the size of your project, a workshop approach will almost always benefit your requirements gathering process. This will enable you to develop engagement from an early stage, steering stakeholder input and overcoming potential blockers before they become a problem.
Getting everyone on the same page
Focused facilitation generates buy-in from all stakeholders, which is a prerequisite for CAFM. After all, success will be judged by how quickly your software is adopted, how efficiently it is used, and how effectively it impacts the business.
Workshops also uncover and address underlying tensions, concerns and misconceptions about what the project is trying to achieve. And, believe me, it is far better to get these out of the way at the beginning, rather than allow them to seep through later and risk the delivery of the project partway through.
What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen made?
In all cases, collaboration and understanding the ‘why’ and the value to your business of each requirement (or omission) is key.
Not engaging the right people at the start is a common problem. You need to identify all your stakeholders across the business, and system users will inevitably play a big part in conversations.
Not outlining or sharing the objectives and agenda for the CAFM requirements gathering process can also cause misunderstandings that will hinder productive collaboration.
If people have not been through this process before, they may have misconceptions about what it involves, so it’s important to communicate effectively with the entire stakeholder group at every stage. Ensure that your software provider is capable of supporting you by getting involved in these initial conversations.
Remember, also, that using technical terminology, abstract concepts or ambiguous language in a discussion can lead to misplaced assumptions, misaligned ideas and confusion. And the more stakeholders there are, the greater chance there is of confusion arising. So communicating in a clear and direct way, using plain language and real-world examples to illustrate your points will help to ensure clarity: dispelling fears and concerns, increasing engagement and obtaining support.
How do you decide what makes it onto the wish list?
Make sure that you consider managing for today, as well as planning for tomorrow.
Every business has its own priorities. At Urgent, we see people defining their wish list in all kinds of different ways, which means we’re often able to share a suitable approach with our clients, and make proactive suggestions for features and functionality. Ultimately many decisions come down to the cost/benefit ratio. If a particular feature or function is going to cost more, is it worth it? Are there any legal implications, and will there be a knock-on effect from not doing it? What is the opportunity cost of not doing it?
Fortunately, most requirements fall into the preliminary configuration, which means that they don’t attract extra cost and can be changed at any time (Urgent’s ‘drag and drop’ workflows make this particularly easy).
Planning for both the present and the future are of equal importance to the overall project, but will be given different emphasis by different stakeholders. So build the capacity for both into your plan.
What are the best ways to ensure success?
Ask lots of questions, and keep asking them. Only when you have your answers can you set the agenda around the scope of work – don’t try to do things the other way around.
Define what good looks like. This should be your point of focus throughout. Is it set reporting? Reduction in costs? Efficiency improvements? What is your main driver?
Without identifying your key objectives, you can’t prioritise, or make decisions on what is essential, what is important, and what would simply be nice to have. This is why the initial consultancy phase of CAFM implementation is extremely important to the success of the project, and why regular check points need to be built into the project plan to ensure that you stay on the right track.
It’s also important to recognise that developments and updates to your system can be made post-launch if needed.
What should FMs look for in a CAFM partner?
A project with significant time and budget investment attached needs to be based on an objective choice.
Aside from supplying the right solution, your chosen technology partner should be an organisation that employs people you’re confident doing business with, who are keen to work with you and able to challenge you, if necessary.
- Look for tried and tested methodologies, the ability to create a solid plan for integration and deployment into the business, and proactive support for using the system over the longer term. You’re looking for an organisation that will support you in achieving your objectives, not someone who’s going to sell you software in a box and leave you to get on with it.
- Ask for evidence of processes, and ask questions about how they will help you to communicate and facilitate those processes. Because there will almost certainly be obstacles, challenges and politics along the way, which can risk derailing your project.
- Ultimately, you want to know that you have a team on your side who will keep everybody focused, work around any challenges, and ultimately ensure that your project is a success.
To obtain further benefits from your CAFM platform, your provider should continue to add value throughout the contract lifecycle. So make sure they understand where you are headed – then you can be confident that you will get there together.
> Download Urgent’s eBook: Requirements gathering