2014-11-23

CAFM: The first year Part 1

I recently (October) celebrated my first anniversary with my new company. While I do miss the unique puzzles faced in facilities engineering, there are plenty of riddles to occupy me in my current role.

I can't say I wasn't petrified to start over somewhere new, after over 13 years on my previous team, but, it is kind of exciting to begin again, this time with the benefit of experience, education and a modicum of confidence.

Slow Start
It has been a busy year, with the promise of much more in the pipeline.
But, the start was a bit slow for me, I'll admit. The SysAdmin training I was hoping to get in November was canceled and moved to February, and I couldn't do much until our upgrade from Archibus 18.1 to 21.1 was complete. Obviously, I've had similar training and experience with FMDesktop and IBM Maximo, but, each system is organized much differently on the back end and you don't want to start blindly tinkering.

Until the new system was installed and ready for me to start testing, I was assisting our corporate facilities manager with moves, renovations and new employee management. She didn't have too much downtime, but, when it was a little slower, she showed me some of our power-consumption data and talked about wanting to find the time to analyze it and propose energy-savings projects.
That allowed me to get used to our data, some employees and their departments and divisions.
I even got to save them a little time and money by laying out alternate plan ideas before formally requesting our architect to draw them up.

During this time, I also took any notes compiled by our consultant from interviews with our facilities department heads, expressing their pain points and goals for our IWMS. I formalized and organized the workflow portion into clear processes and procedures, filling in some holes as I walked through it. As I took on some tasks for accessing and managing the system, I documented that as well.
I believe my years as a technical editor really prepared me for capturing steps and providing clarity during projects like this.

Part of the benefit of very clear documentation is that I learn it more deeply, another benefit is that my company knows that if I ever leave, they won't have to start from scratch or recreate the wheel. My last few months at the hospital, I was constantly thinking of little details to write down for my eventual replacement, how things were set up and why. It had never occurred to me to explain those things to anyone, but, it would be helpful to someone coming in blind. Prior to my presence, the engineering team had had trouble keeping anyone on for long, and no wonder, the scope of work and the scale of the campus is enough to intimidate anyone. 
An unexpected bonus of this busy work? We were recently asked to compile a processes and procedures manual for our whole department. Easy peasy for me. Woohoo.

The Migration
The first stage of the upgrade for me was user experience testing. I logged into our Dev environment as each user role, to ensure the views showed and operated as expected. The next step was to recreate the user Roles. Many folks had random tasks assigned to them over time, which made duplicating permissions unnecessarily complex, and also enabled the possibility of pulling multiple licenses at a time by a single user (if the same process is assigned to a role and to an individual).

This is where the fun started. Processes weren't properly cascading from the roles to the users. I couldn't figure out why, and assumed it was nothing more than my inexperience to blame. Bumped it to my consultants and none of them could see a reason either. They bumped it to Archibus support and they couldn't figure out why either.

So, we upgraded from 21.1 to 21.2 and began testing again.

I was able to take the Archibus System Administrator training then. Though the winter trip to Boston did leave me with a cold and eventually bronchitis, it was worth it. The Archibus employees and instructors were all fantastic. I learned about setting up the system from scratch and the necessary tweaks there, then essentials of creating new tasks, processes, roles and reports. When I started asking questions, I even got a little preview of the topics covered in their System Integration course (which I still desperately want to take).

There were some bad hiccups when we flipped the switch, with some user accounts unable to log into WebCentral. That was a really great introduction to my new users, who hadn't gotten a chance to meet me yet. Most of the user accounts were back in business after clearing their cache (challenge number one, providing the correct instructions for cache-clearing when your part-time system users don't realize what a browser is, nor which one they're using. I settled for instructions marked with the browser logos.), but, some of the others... again, the problem couldn't be easily detected through the expected settings and permissions. Our business partner was able to rectify the remaining account problems for me.


Once the users had settled in and gotten used to the look of the newer version, they appreciated the autofill and search options when filling in forms.

To be continued... This post is getting a bit lengthy, so I will break it up over a few articles. Each of our user groups needed to have their modules and processes assessed. Lease, maintenance and space, primarily.
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