With a history dating back to 1848, SPIE Matthew Hall is today one of Europe’s leading facilities management and building services companies. Thanks to an extensive UK branch network, it provides a varied portfolio of Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) services across a client base that embraces the financial and education sectors, government bodies, arts organisations, manufacturing, transport and conference centres.
These CAFM services range from PPM managed to fully automated FM, and the company's customers include household names such as the Tate Gallery, BNFL, Rolls Royce and Sellafield Capenhurst.
As an FM specialist, SPIE Matthew Hall has always been aware of the growing importance of effective automated management and the timely reporting of sub-contractor, assets and services. By the late 1990s, it was pro-actively exploring the CAFM software market, running a series of pilot projects with prime contracts to assess the feasibility of the leading products.
"The 'added value' of CAFM and its effective reporting capability soon became apparent and the portfolio of CAFM facilities we manage and provide rapidly expanded to our current status," says CAFM manager, Alun Lloyd.
"Our clients are becoming more demanding in the quantity and quality of data they require surrounding the FM services we provide. A CAFM system provides us with an effective tool to offer information on a wave of FM functions, enabling the client and us to make persuasive decision-making judgements to improve contract performance and effective, easily measurable cost savings where possible. When fully implemented, a good CAFM system provides a single point of contractual reference for our client and for us, as their FM provider."
As SPIE Matthew Hall tested the CAFM market, FSI's Concept™ system emerged as a class leader in the arena, according to Alun. Following an assessment of several products against the company's requirements for primary functionality and capability, software developer and supplier FSI was chosen as its preferred CAFM provider.
Initially, the company implemented the Concept™ 300 platform, mainly as standalone, site-based systems. Now however, it has an enterprise-scale solution, consisting of a core centralised multi-database Concept™ 500 platform with the addition of the SLA/KPI Escalation, Workflow Lite, Stores & Purchase Order, and Mobile modules.
"This means we can provide a comprehensive suite of 'added value' services to our existing and future clients," explains Alun. "We use part or all of these modules on contracts varying from data centres, with their associated criticality, to the financial management of PFI projects in which SPIE Matthew Hall is involved."
"In the early days, like most initial users of CAFM, the quality required and the enormity of some implementations was under estimated," says Alun. "As a company, we have recognised and acknowledged the shortfalls from those steep learning curves and evolved a practiced process for CAFM implementation with the use of predefined models that can be invoked in a relatively short timescale."
Although the enterprise scale of the present system is based on a centralised model, the company still provides the option for small, standalone implementations such as Concept™ Lite.
"However, we do try and encourage our clients to take full advantage of our centralised system with its inherent robust and easily supported environment."
SPIE Matthew Hall recently implemented a central call centre with regional helpdesk facilities, combining Concept's mobile technology and GPS tracking to manage and control its own mobile engineering operation.
"This enables us to provide the right engineer in the right place at the right time!" says Alun. "Going forward, our intention is to expand our multi-database environment to include web access for all clients and offer secure, web-based 'dashboard' style reporting capability to our clients, on demand. To achieve this, we will possibly bring Concept™ eSQL and the new FSI product, Concept™ Evolution [a complete, web-enabled version of the platform] into our CAFM portfolio."
Alun says the most obvious benefit of implementing Concept™ 500 on an enterprise scale has been the ease with which it can now provide an internal MIS (management information system) to its clients and its own managers.
"Secondly, and most recently with the enterprise solution, there is the cost effectiveness and ease of roll-out to new and existing contracts," he adds. "We anticipate our cost savings – with improved capability – based on our current agreement with FSI to be significant over the next two to three years."
Alun says Concept's cultural impact has been considerable, as with the arrival of any new CAFM platform, particularly in environments where there has been no previous system: in such cases, the process for using the software involves a significant change in the engineering culture at site level.
"The emphasis SPIE Matthew Hall uses to implement these changes is to empower and encourage local ownership of the process," he says. "Engineers are involved from the outset in the advantages and changes in work practice to deliver effective use of our Concept™ systems. This will include the evolution of effective task processing to provide, where possible, as close to a real time information status as possible on which the client and our local management team can rely for accuracy and meeting SLA/KPI requirements."
The company aims to expand its existing Concept™ client base considerably during the next few years, making extensive use of mobile technology and web reporting capabilities.
"Our company vision is to be the 'provider of choice' and Concept™ will be a significant part of our mission to achieve this by providing the tools to enable effective management of our contracts," says Alun.
As a preferred supplier, FSI will continue to play an important role in supporting and developing the platform in this exciting and demanding environment. Alun points to the vendor's longstanding relationship with SPIE Matthew Hall as an important factor in the long-term success of the implementation.
"We find their ability to respond to support issues and involvement in development on projects very flexible and accommodating," he says. "We have an effective key account holder as my counterpart and when required, his commitment to our requirements has always been excellent. If we have had any issues, we have found FSI's response and attempts at resolution pro-active and effective."