2008-05-23

FMDesktop Pilot Program Status

Hi there, fellow FM'ers. I just wanted to give you folks an update on how my project has been going.

I started out about a year ago with FMDesktop 7.0 (FM, FL, FW) and cross-graded to ACA08 (for the SpaceAutoGenerate feature), which then made me update to FMD7.1 (because the older one didn't work with anything newer than 2007, also remember that 2009 will not work with 7.1, so I hope you've got FMD subscription for when the development team adds that ).

Anyway, both programs were a slight learning curve for me. I've been on the discussion groups and at AU pumping everyone I could find for guidance on FMDesktop for the past couple of years. I made a few mistakes (accidentally deleted one field which undid a couple of weeks of work, there's the drawback of working in a database, there's no 'undo' button). But, it was quicker redoing the information since I'd already done it once before (if we push this live, I'll set up automatic nightly backups to a portable hard drive, IT does this, but, it's a big hassle to just look for and restore one file or folder on a system as large as ours).

The space creation and cleanup took about two weeks for one floor of my campus (big campus), the export to DWF went okay (once I realized I had to save in the current file format... we're saving down to an older one to accommodate older seats), import into Facility Manager was totally painless.

I found it really simple and easy to start clicking and picking to assign departments, room usage and other data. I imported a bunch of plans with my MEP info to show how easy that was, and I created queries for the information I added during my pilot (asbestos locations, plumbing shutoff valves, which air handling unit serves each area) and liked the out of the box reports (although, if you've used Access before, you know these are pretty easy to modify with some practice).

So, I'm in the second year of my pilot as we speak, but, the BIG thing in this project was the presentation I just made a couple of weeks ago.

Every year my department hosts a planning and education conference for all of our facilities group (managers and supervisors), some of our corporate folks and even some facilities people from the system's other facilities. We present on various projects we've done or wish to do and get feedback from our experienced coworkers.

I put together a presentation (I only had an hour) and had to remember that these folks were engineers, project managers, skilled mechanic managers and nontechnical administrators; NOT software or computer technicians. That's a challenge for a dork like me who is surrounded by other nerds like me all the time, they sometimes tell me I speak a different language.

But, we did just practice effective speaking and did test presentations in a course I just took in my studies at Saint Louis University, so that allowed me to hear some good tips and feedback from the professors and other students.

I reminded them of the definition and the purpose of CAFM, gave some examples of other facilities who utilize such systems and reminded them of pitches we'd been given in the past by software vendors.
Then I told the positives of FMD over others (cheaper startup cost, ease of modification, no need for a web server so we can just use our existing file server, ability to expand to include a work order system [ours is a bit outdated]), informed them of the information I put in this pilot and walked them through how it can be accessed and easily modified, suggested either having our space management firm adopt this or bring a portion of it back in house, queried for the office and associated equipment of our director as a sample and finally showed them a brainstormed list we'd put together years ago with the type of information we might choose to include with a full rollout.

I ended by telling them where they can watch a video I made (I love CAMTASIA!) walking through how easy it is to use the program to make changes (they've all seen me polyline spaces in AutoCAD before when I first did some of these plans and know it takes awhile).

Of course, I also revealed to them how many staff I thought we'd need and was grilled on that a bit, which gave me an opportunity for my long-standing justifications.

Anywho, wish me luck. This lives or dies by the reactions to that presentation. I was told by my Manager and Director that I'd presented well and they were re-convinced (believe me, it took a lot of talking to get the ten grand I needed to just get this far).

It seemed to be well-received and I got a lot of good questions from the audience (about 45 people), and even managed to mention BIM (which our corporate overlords kept mentioning during their presentations because they're starting to require it... I'm trying to make the point that I need to be more involved in that, because their current open standards will not help me much from a long-term system management position, although it's been proven to streamline the design process).

All I can do now is... wait.

Wish me luck.
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