This article also featured in the October editorial of Campus Estate Management.
We spoke to Mick Seamarks, Compliance Manager at Dean Close School, about how they are using QFM to ensure their sites are running smoothly and cost effectively while maintaining compliance for the safety of staff and students.
- Project: To support the management of the 50-acre school.
- Objectives: To implement CAFM software capable of managing the intricacies of an educational site. The system must be efficient and analytical to help with reporting and data.
- Results: Improved efficiency and accuracy through QFM via improved reporting and better data capture. Sustainability improvements, including reducing paper usage.
Dean Close School was established in 1886 and is set in a picturesque parkland of 50 acres within the centre of Cheltenham, UK. It is a prestigious day and boarding school renowned for focusing on student development with its ethos encouraging independent thinking and self-confidence for all learners.
With an average of 800 students attending, the campus facilities include a two-storey art school, a music school, three theatres, an all-purpose sports facility with 25m pool, floodlit AstroTurf pitches, and rifle ranges, climbing walls, squash, and tennis courts, and seven boarding houses.
Dean Close School has been a valued client of Service Works International (SWI) since 2015. QFM is an interactive web-based computerized facility, property and workplace management solution offered by SWI.
Choosing a Software Partner
“We investigated three different CAFM software vendors. SWI, another major company and a local software house, who wanted to create a bespoke system for us. QFM was the best choice for us and came out on top for meeting our requirements. Before QFM, we used a Microsoft Access database-style job sheet that the help desk would print and give to operatives. Jobs were being cherry-picked, some jobs were being lost, and just generally, it wasn’t working efficiently for us.”
Improving the Efficiencies
The QFM mobile app is an acutely effective and efficient way to distribute jobs to operatives out in the field and provides functionality for jobs to be allocated to operators through the day. Without the need for continuous data signal or Wi-Fi, QFM is able to provide time stamps for jobs as they are accepted, completed, put on hold, or declined. This provides FMs full transparency on their operatives’ performance and ensures all reports are accurate and always available.
While already out in the field, operatives may come across an issue which needs to be reported. Using the mobile app, users can raise a job – with the relevant required information including photos, attachments, geography etc. – which goes straight to the QFM web portal and on to the helpdesk team for triage.
Once triaged, a work order can be created and passed directly to the operator’s mobile, meaning they are able to check their incoming work stream in real-time while out and about around the site. The result is an improved logistic efficiency where jobs that may be in the same buildings or in the adjacent buildings can be picked up quickly while an operator is already on site or very nearby, instead of them having to travel backwards and forwards across sites. At Dean Close, this can dramatically reduce the time taken to complete jobs across the eight sites in total. This system is significantly more efficient for staffing resources, and means jobs are getting done quicker, resulting in benefits to all operational areas of the campus.
Reducing the Costs
“We have reduced paper usage alone by somewhere in the region of 3,000 sheets per year, purely by using a mobile device and digital forms. And the information added to these forms gets saved straight onto the main database for reporting. The most important thing is that QFM has saved us time, which of course, equates to money. Jobs are getting done quickly, and we are not having to work overtime or getting delayed, and we can plan work more efficiently.”
For Dean Close School, the increase in accuracy of work thanks to QFM, has delivered a significant benefit around time saving. As jobs are more accurately recorded and documented, the need for return visits is reduced resulting in improved time and cost efficiencies. Operatives in the field are also able to plan their days more efficiently when using the mobile app which reduces time spent in vehicles traveling across the campus and between sites, saving money in fuel costs, and managing the operational carbon footprint.
“One of the things we have been extremely strict on is compliance. QFM allows us to look at where we have outstanding work, where observations in compliance tasks have been raised (by either ourselves or external contractors); we can see the whole picture so we can plan more work. For example, if we know the job is scheduled in an area where we are doing building refurbishment, we can now look at QFM. If we see other outstanding jobs, they can be swept up simultaneously. We are not doing the job and then going back and undoing something we’ve already done to rectify something else.”
Effective Data Management
In addition to QFM’s standard reporting functionality, the software can seamlessly integrate with third party applications, such as Microsoft’s Power BI or Tableu for enhanced data analysis and graphical data display. The data is refreshed and updated as QFM updates.
“I like the reports, they’re so good”, says Seamarks “I have to do monthly stats for the bursar, and I can schedule them to run overnight so that in the morning the interface is ready and waiting to go. Then it’s just the case of manipulating the data as appropriate.”
“We employ one individual to do our compliance checks: that’s water testing, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, etc. The QFM app allows them to perform necessary checks on various items and equipment, and record faults there and then, which automatically feed back into the system. For example, if an extinguisher needs replacing, they can raise that task while they’re there. QFM immediately captures it: they don’t have to remember to log it when they come back to the office. We pick up more issues as we are going around in this way and have also started using the mobile device for general day-to-day, walking around the building. If we see something, we can open the app, fill out the details, and it’s in the system.”
By using QFM comprehensively across Dean Close School, the facilities management team is more proactive in identifying faults and coordinating efficient processes to see them resolved often before the staff and site users have even noticed there is an issue.
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