CAFM software: prepare data, then decide?

Prepare data before buying CAFM System BLOG iTWO fm

who CAFM-software, needs to have the dates. Lots of data.

After all: sometimes there are a few Excel lists, occasionally another CAD-plan, but often almost everything essential is missing. And if it has not yet been decided which CAFM system is to be used, is it possible at all to find relevant information 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 Reporting, which will be required after the installation and commissioning of the CAFM system. You should analyze these reporting requirements thoroughly. This will let you experience all the parameters that your CAFM system must at least deliver later.

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

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

After all, a CAFM system usually also includes maintenance and repair appointments as well as manuals, data sheets and the contact details of internal managers, suppliers, manufacturers and executing trades.

Define the data model

The next step in preparing for a CAFM system is not to look for the desired data, but to define the data model. It almost summarizes what data should be recorded with a view to reporting and planned use. And that includes defining which reports, dashboards and KPIs are to be generated from the system at the push of a button.

It makes sense not to list everything that is possible, but to concentrate on what is necessary in the first step. As a rule, these are surfaces, floor coverings, safety-relevant equipment, energy-relevant systems, sometimes windows and doors as well as possibly some additional details about the room equipment such as workplace equipment.

Once the data model is in place, the first glance is at the data that already exists. Depending on the previous organization of data sovereignty, this means asking colleagues, caretakers, department heads or the departments responsible for civil engineering what documents are available, what format they are and then collecting them. Whether this is done as a paper copy, digital copy or in the original is also to be clarified - and of course depends on the original.


Handmade with Excel

The documents must then be recorded in an identical form. In the first step, an Excel list (well-made because it is structured and structured based on lines) can suffice. All data that will later be used in the CAFM system is entered in this. It is important that a binding nomenclature is already defined for the data, which allows content to be clearly assigned to a specific room in a specific building.

Alternatively, there are tried and tested advisors in the market who can help with the data collection help. This includes, for example, a very sophisticated documentation of various FM-consultant (or our independent Partner), which they generally make available free of charge as part of a structural consultation. Basically, these documents are also Excel sheets, but are very professional and can also be read universally into CAFM systems. That should be a matter of course, 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 software for capturing building data and is based on the IFC4 standard. It thus covers requirements of BIM and CAFM equally.

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

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

But: You should be aware that the CAFM-Ring does not do the whole thing out of philanthropy, but also to bring its members interested in it.

Apps from manufacturers

Apps for inventory or data acquisition are available as a further variant, which various CAFM manufacturers have in their portfolio - IMS, for example, that IMSWARE.APP Inventory. These apps are extremely helpful because, when used with a smartphone or tablet PC, they incorporate their technical capabilities - sometimes from a camera to a tape measure and GPS.module up to voice memos, automatic timestamp included (whereby we refrain from writing location data for data protection reasons).

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


CAFM software: Prepare data, then decide? App picture RIB IMS

Areas without CAD

The smartphone can also be very helpful in another context, namely when there are no or no current CAD plans that can be used to determine the areas. This information gap can then only be closed with an oversize. And that is easier, more precise and faster than often thought. Why?

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

Since the laser knives themselves are clever, they don't just deliver bluntly one length after the next, but can also multiply two measurements to an area dimension or three measurements to the volume of the room. The fact that not only the floor needs to be measured in this way, but also that 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 upcoming system can be recorded. A few points are important here:

  • 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 is also worthwhile to sift through the data and identify spaces before CAFM software is purchased. Because if you think universal here, you can later easily import your basic structure into any CAFM solution.

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


All the best

CAFM software: Prepare data, then decide? SD Signature RIB IMS

CAFM software: Prepare data, then decide? SD Website RIB IMS
Contribution recorded by: Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Stephan D'Oria

Stephan is an old CAFM hare - in 2001 he already wrote his diploma thesis on CAFM systems. After working as a consultant and project manager at various manufacturers, Stephan has been managing our branch in southern Germany for ten years and is responsible for activities in Austria and Switzerland. When he's not pondering about CAFM, Stephan runs a mountain marathon, goes mountain biking or plays soccer, and also likes to do it with his children.

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