CAFM software: prepare data, then decide?

Prepare data before purchasing CAFM System BLOG IMSWARE
Prepare SD website data »RIB IMS
Contribution recorded by: Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Stephan D'Oria

Stephan is an "old stager" in CAFM - in 2001 he already wrote his diploma thesis on CAFM systems. After working as a consultant and project manager for various manufacturers, Stephan has been managing our subsidiary in southern Germany for ten years and looks after activities in Austria and Switzerland. When he's not thinking about CAFM, Stephan runs Mountain-Marathons, rides a mountain bike or plays soccer, and he likes to play with his kids.

who CAFM software wants to introduce needs data. A lot of data.

After all, sometimes there are a few Excel spreadsheets, occasionally a CAD plan, but often almost everything is missing. And if it is not decided yet, which CAFM system it should be - then can be relevant before the introduction of CAFM record data? And what's the best way to do that?

In the beginning is the end

Even if it sounds paradoxical: At the beginning is the end. And that Reportingwhich will be required after installation and commissioning of the CAFM system. You should thoroughly analyze these reporting requirements. This will tell you all the parameters yours CAFM system at least deliver later.

Typical data in this context are consumption of energy, water or material such as cleaning agents. Also frequently required are cost overviews for service providers in-house or externally and the ability to benchmark and compare them.

Frequent evaluations also include area measurements, floor coverings, interior fittings, maintenance-relevant components such as fire dampers and power-operated doors, care-intensive equipment such as windows or special furniture and, of course, everything in the context of the operator obligations is essential.

After all, belong in one CAFM system usually also maintenance and servicing appointments as well as manuals, data sheets and the contact details of those responsible internally, suppliers, manufacturers and executing trades.

Define the data model

The next step in preparing for a CAFM system is not to search for the data you want, but to define the data model. It almost summarizes what data should be included for reporting and scheduled use. And this includes defining which reports, dashboards and KPIs are to be generated later from the system at the touch of a button.

It makes sense not to list everything that is possible, but to concentrate first on what is necessary. As a rule, these include surfaces, floor coverings, safety-relevant equipment, energy-relevant systems, sometimes windows and doors, and possibly some additional details on the interior design, such as work station equipment.

If the data model stands, the first look is for those data that already exist. This means, depending on the previous organization of the data sovereignty, with colleagues, janitors, department heads or the departments responsible for building construction and civil engineering to inquire about what documents there, which format they have and then collect them. Whether this is done as a paper copy, digital copy or in the original, is also to clarify - and, of course, dependent on the original.


Handmade with Excel

The documents then have to be recorded in identical form. In the first step, a (well-made, structured and line-based) Excel list can be sufficient. All data that will later be used in the CAFM system are entered in these. It is important that the data already has a binding nomenclature that allows content to be clearly assigned to a specific room in a specific building.

Alternatively, the market has proven consultants who help with data collection. This includes, for example, a very sophisticated documentation of various FM consultants (or our independent Partner), which provide them as part of a structural consultation usually free of charge. Essentially, these documents are also Excel sheets, but very professional and universally readable in CAFM systems. That should be self-evident, not unusual - in the sense of an Excel list, of course.


Oriented to standards

Another alternative for universal data acquisition before the introduction of a CAFM system comes from the industry association CAFM-Ring. Its also free CAFM Connect Editor is a building data acquisition software based on the IFC4 standard. It covers requirements of BIM and CAFM equally.

The association also provides the appropriate data sets for the users' own needs: The so-called BIM's profile are limited to specific use cases and define basic content for working with CAFM, for example those for operator obligations maintenance cleaning, energy controlling or plant care.

Although the CAFM-Ring states that the data recorded with the CAFM Connect Editor can only be transferred to CAFM-Connect certified systems. However, since the database is IFC4, other systems in the market also process the captured data.

But: You should be aware that even the CAFM ring does not do the whole thing out of philanthropy, but also to give its members appropriate prospects.

Apps from manufacturers

As a further variant, there are apps for inventory or data acquisition, which have various CAFM manufacturers in the portfolio - IMS for example the IMSWARE.APP Inventory. These apps are extremely helpful because they can be used with smartphone or tablet PC to incorporate their technical skills - sometimes from camera via tape measure and GPS module to voice memos, automatic timestamp included (for privacy reasons we rely on the writing of location data ) without.

However, these apps are usually very strongly tied to the respective system and therefore usually only a recommendation, if it is already clear which CAFM software in the shortlist or already determined binding. Incidentally, these apps are quite cheap and usually available for Android and iOS.


Prepare app picture data »RIB IMS

Surfaces without CAD

The smartphone can be very helpful in another context, namely, when there are no or no current CAD plans, with the aid of which the surfaces can be determined. This information gap can then be closed only with an oversize. And that is easier, more accurate and faster than often thought. Why?

The market now has a whole range of laser measuring devices that can connect to other devices via Bluetooth. They share their measurement results so that they can be further processed - for example in a table or database with the data for the upcoming CAFM system.

In addition, because the laser knives themselves are clever, they not only provide blunt one length after the next, but can also multiply two measurements into one square measure, or three measurements to the volume of the room. That so not only the floor needs to be included in the allowance, but also door, window or wall surfaces can be determined, is helpful at the latest when the painter comes.


Even before the introduction of a CAFM system, important data for the next system can be recorded. Important are a few points:

  • The required evaluations should be known
  • The data model must be defined
  • The data should be collected in a universally usable format
  • Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs are valuable auxiliary tools

So it pays to sift through the datasets and identify blanks before CAFM software is purchased. For anyone who thinks universally here can later easily import their basic framework into any CAFM solution.

Long story short: Capture your data with brains, do not make yourself dependent too fast. And benefit in a timely manner from the advantages of your chosen one CAFM system.


All the best

Prepare SD signature data »RIB IMS

Your rating of this article?

Average 4.4 / 5. Number of votes: 27

Be the first to rate :-)

Great. Thank you very much!

Maybe you want to follow us on ...

We are sorry that you did not like this post so much.

How can we improve that?

Blog News
BIM World Munich: BIM and CAFM presented integratively
krz is a system partner for IMSWARE