City of Mörfelden-Walldorf
Software support for efficient response management for buildings and properties
One of the largest cost items on administrative budgets in local governments across Germany is property management. At the same time, this is an item that generates some of the highest booking volumes in local government administration. However, it is estimated that 95 percent of those who work in this area do so without professional software support. Instead, most data and processes are captured and/or processed via MS Excel and MS Word. This not only results in an extremely large amount of manual work, but is also associated with disadvantages like lacking an up-to-date overview of the budget, or even omitting documentation of some measures. Software-supported local government facility management, in contrast, results in clear advantages and synergies in data (retention) and processes.
That was the thinking at the city of Mörfelden-Walldorf’s urban planning and construction department, which serves the town of around 34,000 inhabitants. Their past processes had been similarly time-consuming. That’s why the Hesse city decided to work with the facility management solution FM®-Tools for public administrations back in 2004, replacing it some time later with integrated facility management by Ulm software provider Axians Infoma.
The primary reasons the city made its initial decision were efficient process mapping and the ability to use the solution not only for buildings, but also for projects in civil engineering, both for investments and street repair work. In addition, another key requirement was the solution’s capability for integration into the Axians Infoma double-entry financial accounting, which the city had used since 2007.
“We wanted to use the process to provide blanket coverage for all areas of our urban planning and construction office, with access to one data pool and with no interfaces,” Department Head Pia Bezzegh remembers. “That’s why integration capabilities were important to us, as was a modular design, so we could start with just a small amount of data at first and then go deeper and deeper over time.” The fact that the Infoma product and FM-Tools – which is now part of the Ulm company’s range of services – are based on the same philosophy, also made the decision to switch a little easier.
Besides the basic module with property management and contract management and the rent and service charge calculation module, the second largest city in the Hesse district of Groß-Gerau also uses measure and notification management. Its functions facilitate efficient processes: Work processes include response planning and controlling, broken down to the cost group and trade group level, as well as order controlling and execution, as well as support.
The Mörfelden-Walldorf urban planning and construction office uses this module to handle all tasks related to comprehensive response measure administration, not only in facility management, but also in the areas of civil engineering, landscaping and playground management, fire department budget, properties, and urban planning. Here are some numbers that illustrate the breadth of these tasks: 120 buildings and 320 apartments, as well as 1961 undeveloped properties with 27,000 m2 of green space, including two cemeteries, 51 parking lots for passenger cars, 35 bus stops, 42 playgrounds, 100 km of roads, and much more are administered with software support. Here’s what Pia Bezzegh has to say about the project: “For us as a smaller local government that doesn’t have as many buildings to manage as a large city, for instance, the fact that we can use it to cover other tasks that come up in the area of urban planning and properties is a major advantage.”
The options offered by the module have already led to significant process optimizations, as well as more transparency. Now, the overall budget is divided among all projects under which measures are developed and budgeted. One example is building maintenance. For instance, there is a budget for the product “Apartments,” which is divided into different measures. A wide variety of response measures are required for a senior services center, for example – water lines have to be renovated, and the fire protection facilities need to be updated. The budget for this kind of work can quickly climb into the millions, and in some cases response measures can take over three or four years.
Budget and cost controlling at the push of a button
That’s why these response measures must be removed from general building maintenance, allowing budgets to be altered as funds are provided. The system allows users to generate budget or cost controlling at the push of a button for each response measure, providing a financial overview of the different responses at all times. Pia Bezzegh explains: “I can see right away what’s going on with the different measures, how the budget is composed, whether orders have already been issued, and whether invoices are already due. At the same time, however, I can also vary the budgets if the money for a certain project has not yet been used, but is needed elsewhere for another measure.”
Response measures are adapted and budgeted accordingly for each new budget year, with remaining funds from past budget years carried over. This process ensures users can always control budget development. This wasn’t always the case. Back in the days of carefully, manually collected Excel lists, information was sometimes missing from the documentation. “Now we have much better documentation of what we’ve done, with what funds, which company, etc. We can track these details over the years,” Pia Bezzegh says.
Better control over the budget is an important point for the chief official in her overall positive review: “Viewing the evaluations over the years allows us to be much more confident in our planning. Now we can say what kinds of funds we’ll need, for instance, if electricity costs increase.” This has only been possible since Mörfelden-Walldorf began planning with exact figures on the material cost level. This also allows the department to give policymakers clear reasons for why they need these funds, resulting in easier decision-making processes.
Further steps are already planned for 2013. The department plans to introduce the contract management integrated into the basic module, which provides a direct link between cost center groups, payers, general ledger accounts, and suppliers as contractual partners. This will further optimize work processes. In addition, the urban planning and construction department also plans to launch efficient energy management, and later a software-supported process for utilities, using relevant Infoma modules.