CAFM Facilities Management Asset Description Naming

Once you have chose a Computer Aided Facilities Management system one of the things you have to do is put your assets in.  One particular section of this that's very important is naming things.  It's incredible how this can go wrong and in some ways its easy for it to go wrong.  The main reason that naming descriptions of assets wrong is that we only think of ourselves when we put these descriptions in.  We don't think perhaps of the helpdesk who might have to log calls into the system.  We don't think of people from other parts of the business having to use the system and being unable to get all assets for a report.  Managers of the asset managers don't think that the asset manager may leave.

Lets consider an example of this in the aviation industry.   We have Xray Equipment.  Now if you have a few people entering this equipment some may enter Xray, others X Ray and then X-Ray.   Searching for that equipment on description alone would be a night mare even with the % sign.  Of course you can use asset codes or local codes.  Though should n't we use the same wording consistently.

Other assets that prove to be a problem are Buildings.    Buildings should be given a building number in general.  Some asset managers or data entry staff will call a building for instance the WH Smiths Building.  Now say they are only a tenant and they leave two years after you have your system up and running with that as a building name.  New staff will not know it's WH Smith building, and those trying to find it will be looking for a building description which is n't accurate. You could call this building BLD139 and maybe what it was built as or the road it's on.  So stay consistent give your building a number, something that will not change unless the asset is no longer in use, put into history.

Another example is this where it comes to retail.  I spoke recently to a company putting their assets in and they said they were going to call a door the Boot's Door and had entered the data and then realised this tenant may leave.  So it dawned on them that best to give it a location.  I suggested a door number.  It's a good idea also to put a sign with either asset name or number where someone can see it and where it can't be removed by vandalism or damage.

What I suggest if you are starting anew with a fresh database and descriptions is sit down and think about the things above and how they could impact your business.  If you get it wrong at the start then you may have to live with that system non user friendly forever.  Take the time and discuss.   Come up with your asset descriptions and stick to them. Have a bible so to speak, a book of rules , asset description you and anyone putting data into the system must not deviate from.  If you change your asset manager etc through leaving or promotion then have the new person use the same descriptions. It's perhaps human nature to take short cuts but taking a short cut with your data, in the end is costly.  Be the tortoise slow and steady not a hare.

Remember all the people who are going to interact with the system.  Your helpdesk might be the ones who use it most. As someone who worked on a large help desk, multi site and hundreds of buildings, labour and contractors I saw the help desk as the aorta of the business.  We knew a great deal about the system.  Consider asset managers from other sections wanting to get reports from the system.  Consider stake holders wanting to run reports and having to use layman's terms and not fancy technical words.  Consider all the users and change of users over the course of your system.  

CAFM systems should be user friendly not just the system but also the data inside them, so spend the time getting it right in the beginning because you could have years of frustration and heartache in the years to come.


In the past I have used Maximo V 5.2 and FSI Concept Evolution, FSI Go, Reach, Connect, Concept Reports,Crystal Reports, Resource Planner and Workflow Lite. 

For more on my experience with CAFM read Employed on a Engineering Helpdesk in Facilities Management