I'm new to the FM world but have lots of experience with Autocad.
Where I recently started to work, we have Archibus v12. We are at a crossroads as to whether to upgrade to Archibus v15 or move to FMystems. Important features include interaction with Autocad, ability to customize the software to our needs, asset management & reporting.
Anyone & all opinions are appreciated.
I think the best thing you could do, short of getting a free trial of each, would be to have an in depth conversation with current users of each of the applications you are considering. This may be hard with something as new as Archibus 15, but they should be able to give you some references.
Another key thing will be to accurately estimate the costs. It would be tempting to minimize the cost/effort in staying with Archibus, but three versions may be as intensive as starting with a new vendor. On the other hand, different systems may have very different ways of doing things -- so the switching cost to a new vendor is always high. No clear answer here, but the key is to spend some time thinking realistically about the switching costs.
Mark Evans Senior Product Manager AEC Division, Simulation Product Line Autodesk, Inc.
This is a difficult question to answer because Archibus, FMystems, and most of the CAFM vendors are private companies. Archibus, for example, closely guards their revenue numbers. My research and somewhat educated guesses say that Archibus has between 4X or 5X the revenue as FMystems. In looking at those numbers, remember that Archibus has many more dealers outside the US than FMystems.
I would encourage you to look at FM Desktop by Applied Spatial Technologies. Customers whom I have spoken with recently say their decision came down to almost a coin toss between FMystems and FM Desktop.
Mark Evans Senior Product Manager AEC Division, Simulation Product Line Autodesk, Inc.
Changing from Archibus to FM Systems is a long drawn out process - there were features in Archibus that I really liked that are not in FM Systems. It has taken us a year and we're still not where we want to be. The only advantage with changing is the cost, Archibus is more expensive than FM Systems to upgrade, so you have to weigh that into the equation. I liked Archibus and was sorry we changed, but now feel FM will do just fine.
We've been using the FMystems products since 1994. Every couple of years or so a coworker and I do a "relook" at some of the other packages that are out there, including Archibus. We seem to always come back with the same conclusiion - what we have is working well for what we want it to do. That doesn't mean it's a perfect application and there are times when we wish it would do something it doesn't or wish it didn't have some bug that it does. But we've always found FMystems to be very responsive to what we have to say.
I'm sure FMystems and Archibus would both be willing to demo their products for you and both happily try to show you that they'll do what you want. FMystems also has relationships with what they call Solution Providers. These are independent companies who may or may not also implement other software depending on what they think would be the best solution given what the customer/client wants. FMystems would share the names of those Solution Providers with you. I would recommend doing both those things, ask the difficult questions, and try to see the differences between the two.
From our experience, regarding the specific areas you asked about:
re AutoCAD: I have very few problems related to the connection between FMpace and AutoCAD. It's rare that I have any trouble here. You can run/save both simple and complex queries to crosshatch rooms. You can annotate rooms with whatever data is in the database related to each room. Etc.
re customization: We've customized here and there throughout the program. There are numerous points at which you can customize. Obviously, you probably need to leave some basic program in tact. But there's a lot you can do through custom views, when starting reports, separate custom programs, etc.
re: asset management: We don't do any full-blown asset management using FMpace. A person who tracks office equipment does use it for that purpose and we display that information on the floor plans on the web site.
re: reporting: FMystems has a great standard report writer with which you can do a lot in a very short period of time. If you want reports that are fancier or more complex, you will need Crystal Reports. CR works great but is a whole 'nother level of complexity and commitment of time (as far as I'm concerned.)
Actually, a three-version jump isn't a problem. V15 will read v12 drawing and data files completely unchanged. You get the new core features (e.g. ADT support, AutoCAD 2006 support, etc.) just with an uninstall and reinstall.
If you want to use the newer applications (e.g. capital budgeting, project management, document management) then you need to upgrade your database, but Archibus includes a wizard for that.
If you have focused needs, you might ask after the Archibus Express and Facilotor or "single site" options. These install without IT support, come with step-by-step tutorials, cover space, asset management, telecom, leases, etc. And they're priced competitive to the low-end packages.
Express and Facilotor also have all the Archibus extensions for defining your own reports, extending the CAD environment, etc.
If your needs grow, you can move up to the Enterprise package without needing any data conversion, staff retraining, etc.
As a product independent CAFM services provider I use all 3 of the products that are discussed in these threads. All 3 are good products and have their strengths and weaknesses, but none of the 3 are the "best" for all situations, which is why I remain product independent. The best fit for you comes down to your company's specific needs and requirements, existing and future.
If you are interested, I would be happy to go over your specific situation and how each software application measures up to your needs by phone. The phone call will be in compliance with the ground rules of this forum and will not be used to sell you any of my services. I'll post my email address in a reply should you be interested.
If you are using ARCHIBUS v12, and your important features are interaction with AutoCAD, ability to customize, asset mgmt, and reporting, you should stay with ARCHIBUS.
Let me explain why...
- most important, your data. As Steve mentions in another reply, there is no migration needed to gor from v 12 -> v 15 unless you need to incorporate the newer security features, the newer activities and/or Web Central.
- just as important to your data is your time (and that of the other users of the system). The is 0 learning curve when going to the newer version. As with AutoCAD upgrades, you can continue using AutoCAD the way you always have whenever you upgrade... and as you stumble upon the new capabilities, slowly start to make them a part of your work process. Same with ARCHIBUS, the navigator doesn't change, though there are newer interfaces available (Process Navigator for example), reporting doesn't change, basic functionality doesn't change... although there are a number of cool new user interface improvements. Bottom line, no loss of production time.
- integration with AutoCAD? I may be biased, but with the ARCHIBUS API tools available with the product, there isn't anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that cannot be accomplished, if the need is there. In my opinion, the integration with AutoCAD is 2nd to none.
- Customization? Heck, about the only thing you can't customize in ARCHIBUS are the core pull-down menus and the font style in the menus. You, the user, have control over the navigation Menus, unlimited ad-hoc reporting, unlimited custom table & field creation (from within the application... no need for a DBA to get involved), easy built-in import/export to Excel, short-cut creation...
- Asset Mgmt? it's all there in the Fruniture & Equipment module. Standards, audit surveys, warranties, leases, etc.
Mark, Steve, bawall, hallmerle, Bill & cafmboss - thank you very much for all the insights.
Tomorrow we have a FMystems demo. They have done one previously for the office but it was before I hired on 2 months ago. I think it is fair to say, the current setup (Archibus) hasn't been adequately utilized, staffed or implemented, so that is the reason for the new software hunt. Throwing new software at a problem is never a solution.
I've been using Archibus for the 2 month now& finding it is pretty robust & customizable. Having no experience FMystems, I'm curious to see any differences between each of them. I'm thinking they are considerably more alike than different. The $$ question is - identifying our specific operational needs & staffing (current & future), than selecting the better program.
I'll be back tomorrow to validate any claims.