Advice for Implementing a Mobile FM Solution

On behalf of Marte Byrne, Boston Scientific

When word gets out that you’ve accomplished a successful deployment of a mobile FM solution, you may find yourself being asked for advice from others. The idea of providing mobile access to an FM solution is so logical, that just about everyone I encounter in the profession wants to do this (if they haven’t already), but some are still not quite ready to take the plunge.

In our case going mobile was too good a move to ignore, as we were doing this for two of our Boston Scientific facilities — in Arden Hills and Maple Grove, Minn. The Arden Hills site consists of 10 buildings situated on a 101-acre campus.

When asked for guidance by colleagues elsewhere in the industry, my top two pieces of advice are: 1) Seek out peers and professionals with experience in FM and mobile; 2) Involve your FM technicians and all other stakeholders from start to finish. As far as the first goes, we were fortunate that our business partner, the same organization that helped us in deploying a CAFM desktop solution, also had strong experience in implementing mobile solutions. So for this post I’d like to look at that crucially important second step: early involvement of FM technicians and other stakeholders.

Get management buy-in early

Gaining early involvement includes addressing any concerns management might have. Going mobile will likely include some equipment purchase, and a nod to IT staff who may be wary of taking on additional assets to support. This is why we suggest getting management involved early — and the higher up the organization, the better.

In our meetings we included a mocked-up demo showing how much more efficient our technicians could be working across the campus if they could access all of the information they required from an iPad, rather than having to continually return to their desktops. IT concerns were allayed by the robustness of our solution, and by the fact that providing mobile access needn’t be considered a mission-critical issue. If the wireless system were to go down, our technicians and other users could simply make use of desktop access until the wireless issues were resolved.

Harvesting wisdom

From a classical management standpoint, the earlier you get others involved — and let them provide input on creating the solution — the greater will be their sense of ownership, and hence success of the project. But along the way, you’ll also find that your technicians and other stakeholders have a lot of wisdom to harvest.

We involved a spectrum of users from our first needs assessment meetings, through prototype evaluations, through participation in pilot deployments. Through every step, the real-world knowledge of our FM technicians and other users helped us create an ever better product. During our pilot deployment we actually walked with our technicians throughout their workdays, seeing exactly how they used our mobile FM solution, and saw in real-time what they would like to tweak. This turned out to be so valuable that my advice to others would be to also do such walk-arounds at the beginning of the project as well, to further inform needs assessment.