Utilising Hosted Systems, or Software-as-a-Service, is becoming more and more popular as organisations look to avoid expensive capital expenditures (CAPEX). A trend is to reduce costs by paying for systems out of operational expenditure (OPEX). Saving on large outlays is one of several advantages to be gained from using hosted solutions.

Benefits of hosted systems:
* NO CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) Required
* NO BLESSING from IT Required
* NO DELAYS – use your system within days
* NO HIGH COSTS – typically £35 per user per month

Hosted Solutions

The cost of hosted solutions has steadily reduced to where they are being considered by more and more organisations. The main benefit seems to be outsourced IT resources. Room Booking and Help Desk systems can be “turned on” for users with little project assistance from corporate managers, and the number of licenced users can be varied monthly, according to needs.

PPM Preparation – why spreadsheets?

Many managers and consultants who have a great deal of experience in the preparation of PPM plan data, insist on preparing the base data for PPM systems (asset and procedure pairing, start date and cycle, service provider) in a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are undeniably convenient, but most of the managers and consultants being described would say that preparation of plan data in a spreadsheet is ONLY way.

It’s quick, similar plans can be copied, and whole sections can be cut and pasted. This sounds good, but it’s all prone to error, the type of error which may not reveal itself until the plan is live.

If base and plan data is entered directly into a system which is back-ended by a professional database such as SQL Server, most of the errors which occur in a spreadsheet can be precluded, because the database simply won’t allow them. The application should provide any further required protection against bad data.

The best PPM systems also have time-saving mechanisms, such as creation of Tasks and Task Dates by groups of assets. Essential an expert user would be saying “create the 28-day inspection task for all the air handlers in the specified building, to start on 1st July” or “all the assets in this room are to have their quarterly inspection, starting on 2nd July”.

Fine-tuning can be done later (often visually, as in the case of staggered start dates), but creating the plan in this way completely prevents the bad data that creation in spreadsheets can allow.

Fully Automatic PPM?

The analysis to determine whether fully automatic PPM is beneficial, or “a good idea”, runs the gamut from common sense to philosophy. “We won’t have to do anything once it’s set up!” cry the proponents, while the worriers wonder “if it’s actually fully automatic, how will the users remember how to use it?”

There are many opinions to consider, but this doesn’t alter the fact that the technology for fully automatic PPM, including distribution of instructions by email, is already here.

By pairing assets and PPM processes and giving them start dates and cycles (PPM Tasks), server-based services can periodically apply lead times for forecasted dates (future PPM Task Dates without jobs), and the jobs themselves. In practical terms, this might mean checking every hour for dates coming due up to 6 months into the future, and jobs coming due within the next two weeks.

Turn it loose and put your feet up?

Motorway miles, train hours, climate change and Webinars!

All organisation refine their operations, so the search for better systems is non-stop. New software packages to automate time-consuming processes, improved software to integrate new techniques and operating system advantages, etc., are fairly common reasons to research new software. What usually happens? The best matching software systems are reviewed on the web, and then the companies are invited to present and discuss.

Thousands of motorway miles and hundreds of train hours are gobbled up moving people around the country, and any potential climate change benefits associated with travel reduction are almost always ignored.

The other approach is to attend “webinars” or “web seminars”, which can be presentations to groups, or one-on-one. Perhaps the best scenario is that the prospective buyers group around a PC and large-ish monitor, and the presenter uses GoToMeeting or Webex to “reveal his desktop” to the group, as if he or she was in the same room. If there has to be a last-minute postponement, little damage is done, and little inconvenience caused. And the travel reduction is good for the Earth!

Helpdesk & PPM Work Locations and Mapping

Help Desk or PPM work location shown in MapQuest

Help Desk or PPM work location shown in MapQuest

Helpdesk & PPM work locations can often be made clearer, by showing a map to operators and service providers alike. Existing technology means showing where a work location is on a street is quite straightforward. A number of different methods exist, whereby a postcode or more precisely longitude and latitude, and drive mapping engines like Google or Mapquest, to show within a few metres, exactly where a building is located.

Some elements of data are very specific to the application that required them, but longitude and latitude angles are “hundred year data”, in that they are very unlikely to be superseded by “better” location information, and can be utilised by map systems, GPS systems, routing systems, and any other application which works with precise location data.

iiS’s software uses maps in conjunction with Labour Resource Planning and building data, generally:

Room Booking Software and Cost Reduction

Room Booking software not only provides automation for various types of room, desk and space booking, but can also be aimed squarely at cost reduction. Two of the clear ways are via hot-desking and tackling no-shows. A trusted hot-desking technique is to reduce the number of desks available to non-office-based staff 10% at a time, and carefully review desk utilisation, which should rise as desk count goes down. An automatic reminder system to make sure staff know they are being scrutinised, followed by publication of a no-show list will reduce noshows, and boost availability, once again leading to increased utilisation.

There have been instances of management introducing a cross-charge penalty system for no-shows, as well as the “naming and shaming” aassociated with the publication of no-show lists. No-shows not only cost money (as they will increase space required), they also inconvenience staff, who might have to postpone a meeting, only to see empty meeting rooms during their preferred times.

For more details on these sort of techniques, see

The Fast Track series

The Fast Track series provides software and service solutions in the areas of Room Booking, Help Desk and PPM (Planned Maintenance). Fast Track delivers both hosted solutions (Software as a Service), and systems based at customer premises.

The Fast Track series sites are:

Using PPM systems as part of tender documentation

Provision of dynamic documentation can enhance chances of winning business by tender.

As the recession takes hold, it’s getting harder and harder to convince prospects and customers to part with their funds, even when it’s obvious that they’ll save much more money than the purchase of the proposed good and services.

In today’s business environment, deriving revenue from tenders becomes more important than ever. A contract notice for a tender is a declaration of intention to spend money on someone, so no effort to convince the prospect to part with their funds is required.

The down-side of tenders is that more companies than ever will be responding. So the question is how to set your company apart from the mass?

Hundreds of maintenance services tenders appear every month, and one way to be progressive is to offer to provide a fully-automated planned maintenance system as part of the deliverable. If the system is handed over to the tendering organisation either during or after the contract, a clear case of added value is made.

Using a PPM system to forecast and track cyclical and reactive tasks will lead to a detailed maintenance history of assets, which is very likely to be valued by the tenderer, and can be used as the documentation basis for subsequent asset maintenance contracts.

Contact iiS ( if you would like to find out more about using PPM systems as part of tender documentation, or go to

Share Desks!

In the recent budget shake up, UK civil servants have been told to make huge efficiency savings. Coming late to concepts like hotelling and hot-desking, the UK Civil Service will now be forced to rationalise space, along with all their desk-less office workers in the commercial world.

Amongst iiS customers, some remendous space savings have been reported by appying desk-sharing principles, and then enforcing and measuring the efficiencies with Fast Track Room Booking (which can be reviewed at