Friday 11 November 2016

A walk in the peaks or a day in the office?

If you are running a business, or you are a senior manager running someone else’s, what is the most beneficial to your organisation?  A day in the office, right?

I had the privilege the other day to be invited to a gathering of like-minded people who still believe that making the world of work a better place is a worthy struggle.  And added to that, the belief that making this abstract, ‘touchy-feely’ stuff a part of understanding our business will improve the bottom line.  All too often we make decisions based on a business case full of figures on a spreadsheet or design something based on external constraints and then push what we all say is our most important asset into a situation or space that is doomed to fail.

I must say at this point (and those who know me will no doubt back me up) that I am not prone to an overly gentle approach to life and business but, I listened to some fantastic accounts of examples where actually putting people at the centre of the solution (rather than just saying it or writing it on the front page of the corporate website) made a significant (and dare I say measurable) difference to performance, wellbeing and, you guessed it, profitability.

My world is generally full of order and process and deadlines, no surprise there.  I’m not saying we all have to go out and ‘hug a tree’, just that every now and again, take a step back from the straight lines and try to understand why we do what we do, why that is important and whether we are in fact doing what we think we are doing.

Too flowery for all you hard-nosed business folks out there?  I know a few people who can prove you wrong (and probably save you a few bob in the process).

If you think you have a good/great/exceptional team and want to make it better, drop me a line and I will point you in the right direction.

If on the other hand, your business is top notch and you can’t improve it, who am I to argue?

Tuesday 4 October 2016


My name is Steve and I’m a BIMaholic, my problem started about 3 years ago when I attended a BIM event.  The problem is, I’m an FM and FM don’t do BIM…… Well judging by FM attendance at most BIM events at least.

During the last week of September I was honoured to have a small speaking part at the BIM Conference 2016 held at Coombe Abbey.  The Conference was almost entirely attended by Architects, Designers, Construction professionals and Supply Chain specialists.  I was invited to share some information about how the Operate and Maintain function fits into the BIM process.

The keynote presentation was delivered by Professor Mervyn Richards OBE and covered a whole host of information about BIM, Level 2 and the history of construction in general.  The presentation was fantastic, as you would expect from ‘BIM royalty’ and taught me quite a few things I hadn’t know or realised previously.  Suffice to say, the conference earned its pay in the first hour for me.  If only there were more ‘FM types’ at these events.

“It was quite impossible for the surveyor to take out quantities from drawings such as sometimes come from the architect’s office, imperfectly finished and possibly incorrect”

The Present Condition of the Building Industry - A paper and discussion reported in RICS
Transactions Vol. XXXIII (1900– 01)

It was very interesting to see some of the quotes and comments from history that are still relevant today.  We seem to be much better at identifying our shortfalls and giving advice to future generations than we are at following that advice.  Perhaps that is just human nature?

When we think about BIM for FM, I believe we are in a position at the moment where we can either sit back, and carry on making the same mistakes as we have in the past, or we can change the narrative around delivering our built environment to the eventual operators and users of those assets.  What do I mean by this?

Currently, we view BIM (largely) as a tool for design and construction to save money and reduce waste.  BIM offers much more than that.

Design and Construction have been working closely to develop our BIM guidance to make the most of the technology and process to realise the savings that have been projected but, they have never really included the Operate and Maintain element in the early stages of the process.  It is true that much of the documentation and guidance mentions operations or FM or ‘the client’ but, in reality their actual involvement prior to handover very rarely happens.

Why is this?  Well, I have a theory.  It may not be popular with some groups or individuals but, here it is:

Firstly, the divide between Capex and Opex is difficult to bridge.  Whilst ever the people delivering the asset are concerned only with the Capex element, it is unlikely that they will consider the effect of changes that impact only on the Opex budget.  It’s somebody else’s problem.

When we order a new car, if we ask for air conditioning and electric windows, we do not expect someone else to decide that actually, manual windows and a decent fan will do.  Put this in the context of a building project and you know it happens all too often.

We do however; accept that if we want aircon and all electrics, that we have to pay extra for that.

Building an asset is similar although the figures are a little bigger and the timeline (depending on car manufacturer) longer so, you would expect we would have the same mental approach?  Sadly this doesn’t seem to be the case in my experience.

BIM offers us a chance to change this two stage view as long as we truly look at the ‘bigger picture’.  Anyone heard of this ‘Lifecycle Management’ idea?  It’ll never catch on!

Secondly, when we talk to Architects and Designers, we commonly hear “the client has asked for Level 2 BIM” often followed by “we asked them why and they said, ‘because we have to have Level 2’” or “but, we have no idea what that is.  We were hoping you were going to tell us”.  Unfortunately, it is still the case that most clients do not fully understand what Level 2 BIM (or indeed BIM generally) means to them.  They also don’t know what information they need and how they need that presenting.  

The painful truth is that they (FM/client/owner/operator) do have all the answers but, haven’t been asked the right questions.

Education is lacking on both sides, we must be able to educate ‘the client’ on what/why they should be asking the design team (and vice versa), what that means for them and, most importantly, what benefits it will bring.  If there are no benefits, why would you do it?

Finally, the current leading edge of BIM (Design & Construction) do not always understand the way that buildings are used and operated.  Sure they know how to design them, specify and install assets that fulfill specifications and meet the standards but, by the time we have to actually use the building/asset in anger, they are usually long gone.  

There is this description, ‘Post Occupancy Evaluation’ but, to my mind at least, all the POE I have ever come across is largely a list of what should have worked but doesn’t and how we will try to correct it.  Surely with the advent of BIM (the process and it’s supporting technology) we should be able to do better?

Ok, so there’s clearly a lot more to consider than the three points above but, I don’t want the reader dropping off whilst I’m in mid-rant.

The design and construction industry spends a fortune on showcasing and selling their BIM credentials and services.  FM as a sector is sadly not part of this circus as yet.  We need clients to wake up, service providers to get on board and software developers to come up with solutions rather than waiting for someone to do it for them.

We now have good evidence of the value of BIM to design and construction.  The true value of BIM for the Operate & Maintain phase has not been fully realised (although there are some very promising early adopters coming to light – MOJ, Manchester City Library etc). 

We even see main contractors with an FM arm who still don’t do joined up BIM.  Why?  Because Construction and FM are separate functions and they only cross paths at handover.  Time for a change?

In order to progress the use of BIM generated data within the FM environment, FM as a sector/discipline has to take responsibility for telling Design and Construction industries what it needs, in what detail and at what frequency in order to streamline the delivery of the operate and Maintain phase as we have now done for design and construction.

I may sound like a grumpy old man but, the truth of the matter is that someone needs to bang the collective heads together of all stakeholders in the BIM process and show them how to play as a team rather than them telling each other how good they are at their own bit.

We are better together, greater than the sum of our parts etc etc.

Perhaps, the current problem of transitioning BIM from Construction into Operate & Maintain is due to the fundamental separation enforced by our previous approach to handover at Practical Completion.  

Here at FM180 we are trying to bridge the gap and act as the island in the stream that allows that bridge to be built (in BIM obviously).  We have a solid foundation in FM and the BIM process.  Why not talk to us about how you can turn your BIM project into a winner on all sides?

I should probably qualify that by saying that we are independent, have the interests of our built environment at heart and are fluent in FM, colloquial level in Construction and can order a beer in Architect.  Whatever your discipline, we are here to help.

#Facman #BIM #BIM4FM #FM180

Thursday 4 August 2016

Changes at FM180

As FM180 continues to develop its Facilities Management consultancy, particularly in the area of BIM4FM and CAFM selection, procurement, implementation and advice it has appointed two new Directors.

Steve Owen is appointed as Managing Director and will continue to focus the efforts of the business in the emerging field of BIM4FM.  Working closely with the development teams of FM software providers, Steve aims to bring FM firmly into the world of BIM.

 “The benefits that BIM can bring to our built environment should not be underestimated however; in order to maximise these benefits, all stakeholders must be involved”.

"CAFM relies on good quality data to provide accurate and timely Management Information.  Historically, this has been a weak area in many FM operations.  BIM has the capability to change this beyond all recognition but, we must get FM on the 'BIM Train' to make this a reality".

Steve regularly speaks at BIM and FM industry events about the need for collaboration across the design, construction and operate/maintain disciplines.

Charles van Berckel is appointed as Business Development Director bringing with him a wealth of sales, marketing and operations expertise.  With over 20 years’ experience in sales and operations management, Charles will be focussing on raising the brand awareness across the FM180 portfolio as well as heading up an active and focussed sales team.

Charles has been speaking to organisations about the advent of BIM in the FM environment for the past two years and has been a key driver of the BIM agenda within FM180.

"We wouldn't dream of spending a few thousand pounds on a vehicle with no discernible history yet, we commonly see clients who own multi million pound assets who have no idea about the history and condition of their building and the assets within it".

"BIM gives FM the opportunity to redress this imbalance and allows us to obtain the richest, most accurate information about our built environment than ever before".

In addition to the new appointments, FM180 are proud to announce that they are now included on the G-Cloud framework and, as such, are able to provide SAAS solutions to the public sector.  This means that public sector organisations can buy services from FM180 without needing to run a full tender or competition procurement process. 

 Contact us for more details.

Whether public or private sector, if you are looking for help on an upcoming BIM project in respect of any aspect of FM delivery, including CAFM selection, procurement and implementation, call us for a no obligation discussion.

Registered with the Crown Commercial Services and now available from the Digital Marketplace, the future of CAFM in the BIM environment.

#BIM #CAFM #GCloud #Digitalmarketplace #Facman #saas

Thursday 11 February 2016

BIM – Growing Pains and Reaching Adulthood

As I become more and more engaged with BIM and speak to more organisations working in the area, the more I come to believe that we need to understand the evolution and development of BIM in a wider context.

At present I see BIM (if that is really its name) as a child, a young child who is just about to enter adolescence and start to learn about the world it lives in and where it fits into the big scheme of things.  Anyone reading this who is young enough to remember or old enough to have children going through this stage of development will know what a difficult, confusing and turbulent time it can be.  As a grandparent now, I understand that this period is short lived but as important to producing a well-rounded functioning adult as our early years ever were.  Adolescence is the period that shapes who we will be in our future.  It is the time where we learn about ourselves, look up to heroes, develop dreams for the future and sadly, learn that the world is no longer such a simple place and that we will eventually have to live with the consequences of our actions.

So, back to BIM.

A very basic (and probably not very accurate) potted history as I see it.


BIM started out as a marriage between 2D CAD and 3D modelling software.  At some point these two got together and said “we should make a baby that combines the clarity of drawing things on paper with what humans actually see when they look at things”.


Drawing and modelling came together over time and made a tool that allowed you to draw something (in a traditional way) and then extrude it to produce a 3D version of the drawing.  These were called 3D models and the pieces of the model were called objects, these objects had things called parameters…..

Are you asleep yet?

OK so, BIM developed over time and transferred from being just a design tool to capturing enough meaningful data that people could use it to quantify materials, quantities etc.

This allowed it to progress into the construction industry as contractors could now ‘see’ what the end result should look like.  The QS could tell them what items they would need to build it.

The next evolution allowed BIM to sequence the act of placing all these parts together.  We could then place all these models in ‘the cloud’ so that people could discuss and clarify things during construction.  The software now allows us to virtually build a building and check to make sure all the parts fit together (clash detection) and to do this before the first ground is broken for real.

This brings us to the present day where we have managed to get a process and a number of tools to the stage that we can virtually design and build a building, iron out most of the problems and manufacture the parts specifically to avoid waste (in time, materials and cost) during the construction phase.

So, what are the current challenges?

There are lots of different disciplines, using many software applications producing lots of models that don’t always work together.  In order to reduce this we are moving towards standardisation of information used. Some examples are COBie, IFC, Uniclass 2015…. The list goes on.

Whilst this bringing together of information to allow buildings to be constructed goes on (and it is required, don’t get me wrong), it is clear that we are falling into the adolescent trap that we know everything and don’t need any help.

By this I mean, we are dealing with the short term problems concerned with talking to each other so that we understand what we want to know today without actually thinking about the future.

Consider for a moment, the purpose of a building.  Do we build them to provide architects with jobs or construction companies with somewhere to stack steel and concrete? No, of course not, we build them for a purpose, to serve a particular activity or function.

Well, yes. I hear you say, that’s pretty obvious.

So why then, are we not engaging with the end user to find out what they want and need to look after this beautiful baby once it is born?

At present the BIM process is concerned with producing a baby with a view to dropping it off at the orphanage with some documentation but, no history or guidance on how to look after it.  Sure, we provide O&M’s, we might in the future provide a 3D model but hey, it’s not our responsibility to make sure it functions properly or that we used the best materials or the most reliable equipment is it?

OK, so you can see where I’m going with this? As a parent (building owner/operator) I want to have input into creating my baby.  I want to know that I have the best possible materials and equipment going into it.  I want to know that someone hasn’t just bought the cheapest kit on the shelf but, the best kit for my building.  Stuff that is going to last and be reliable, stuff that I know will work and won’t end up costing me more to run than 10 of the cheaper bits of kit in the bargain store.  I want to keep all my records in one place so that my team know where they are, can operate everything efficiently, replace anything that breaks and do it quickly with the correct replacement.  I want to know that when it does come to the time where things have to be replaced or demolished that the materials I’ve used can be easily removed from where they are (MOD, destroyers, say no more…) and re-used for something else or recycled at the end of their life.
I’m not getting that at the moment because the teenagers are not interested in the ‘big picture’ they just want to sort out their own world and don’t appear to care if they are doing things the hard way or if they are not considering the consequences of what they do now for users in 10-50 years’ time.

Time for BIM to evolve into the next iteration.

Buildings are used for something, they are not just built and left empty (if yours are, you’re doing it wrong).  Start at the end and bring what that end is into the beginning.  BIM (I’m still not convinced we should still be calling the process BIM) gives the world a much bigger opportunity than saving a few pounds during construction.

BIM the process, could be about a new way of looking at our built environment (not just buildings) and ensuring that we do it better, cleaner, less wastefully and more sustainably in general.  The meagre savings (not to be sniffed at) being realised during the CAPEX stages of BIM will be eclipsed by the Lifecycle savings that could be made by bringing Operate & Maintain to the heart of the discussion and not, as it currently is, consigned to the end of the process.

“One day lad, all this will be yours” and I don’t mean the curtains.

If you are working in or considering BIM for your organisation and want to understand the wider implications of the Operate & Maintain requirements, contact us to discuss training or consultancy.  Our aim is to improve our experience of the built environment through education and involvement.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Software Spotlight - Fissara

Fissara is one of the new generation of workforce management applications.  Cloud hosted and subscription based, it allows for organisations of all sizes to access a scalable, mobile platform to manage engineers in the field without the large outlay associated with more traditional CAFM systems.

It has a clean, clear interface at both the office and mobile end, it is intuitive to use and extremely flexible.

If you deliver work to clients but, don’t have the burden of owning buildings or assets, Fissara is the perfect solution.

The system allows you to create your own workflows and forms, allows for scheduling and work allocation using modern time and location based solution i.e. you can select the engineer closest to or who will arrive soonest to a given job.

Fissara integrates easily with other available functions we have become so used to on our smartphones such as:

·         SatNav – It will take you straight to the job using google navigation. It also allows you to capture travel time, route and arrival via the satnav functionality

·         Barcode and QR code scanning – verify and record asset, location and conditions based on the label attached to a location or asset

·         Photo capture and annotation – take images and sketch or write information on them before saving

·         Capture signatures – For either job sign off, customer satisfaction or other authorisation.

The app is available for iOS or Android meaning you can use any device to provide your workforce with your preferred solution.  It is also possible to operate under a BYOD policy if your engineers/contractors have a mix of devices.

I love the fact that I can see my engineers and available work and link them together quickly and easily.

As an engineer, I love the fact that I can see my work calendar on my phone, receive a job, click start travel and have the app take me directly to the door.  Great for one visit businesses such as HVAC servicing/repair, domestic appliance servicing, locksmiths etc.

I also like the fact that back in the office, I can see in real time what is going on with my workload regardless of geographic dispersion of the work and engineers.

On the downside, reporting is quite rudimentary (at the moment) although you can pay for further development.  I see this as a fantastic tool for the small business but, feel the individual licence is a bit expensive for companies with less than 10 engineers.  I fully understand that there is an accepted average price in the industry but, this is still out of reach for small independants (but then, so are most traditional CAFM systems).

Clearly, Fissara is a work delivery tool and it does this very well.  What it isn’t yet is a fully featured CAFM system although, development never stops.  The guys at Fissara tell me that it’s very easy to integrate with other systems although we haven’t tried this yet.

 If you have an exisiting CAFM application that either isn’t mobile enabled or, doesn’t do mobile as well as Fissara, you might consider investigating it as a ‘bolt on’.  I can name a number of CAFM products that have a mobile app.  I can’t name any that have the functionality and flexibility of Fissara.

New features include project planning tools and asset management making Fissara more 'employable' in the general FM sector and for PM delivery.

Well worth a look.  If we didn’t think this was a ‘best in class’ example, it wouldn’t appear on our site as a preferred solution.

So, who do we think Fissara would suit?

You could argue, anyone but, being practical I would say this is an application that suits organisations delivering a service to their clients and clients who have an obligation to maintain their responsibilities under lease arrangements such as:

·         Retail/Commercial unit occupiers – Who have a large geographic spread covered by a mobile workforce
·         Industrial/Manufacturing – who already have a control system in place but need to improve work allocation
·         Infrastructure – Organisations who maintain power or other utilities in remote, dispersed locations, Linear asset owners etc
·         Specialist contractors – HVAC, Water Treatment, Security, Cleaning, Communications
·         Small single service suppliers – locksmiths/access control, carpenters, electricians, fire safety etc

For more information please contact or call us on 0330 6600 180.

Monday 18 January 2016

Software Spotlight

This month I thought I’d start a short series of reviews of software that we provide as part of our portfolio when working with clients.

This month I’m going to look at Orthograph.

So what is it? In layman’s terms it’s an app that is available for iOS or Android that allows you to draw floorplans, add measurements and set parameters for items such as doors, windows and furniture.

So what’s so great about that?  Well, there are a few things:

  • ·         You can link to a laser measure to get accurate measurements and distances
  • ·         You can automatically scale the drawing by entering measurements
  • ·         You can export the drawing in 2D or 3D to a number of existing modelling formats
  • ·         You can even view the model in 3D as you draw it

As a non-architect/designer I found the app very easy to use and quickly produced accurate models of my local surrounding (home and office).  I was very impressed when I was able to export the models directly into proprietary drawing/modelling applications and send them to colleagues via email or dropbox.  I could even export the flat PDF floorplans directly to my printer.

Sound’s expensive, how much does it cost?  This depends on how you want to use it but, there are options to cover basic use right up to multi user corporate business use with cloud collaboration!

There’s even a free, 3 days trial here -

You can also purchase the basic version at a reduced rate until the end of January!  Check it out here -

I’m interested but, don’t have time for lengthy demos and sales pitches.  No problem, watch this vid, it lasts less than 5 minutes and tells you everything you need to know.

So why not give it a go?  You have nothing to lose but 5 minutes of your time and a few minutes to test it for free (or you can take the full 3 days of course).