Getting the most out of Eclipse-fm® seems to be the theme for this newsletter.
Training, getting the best performance, How do I...?
We hope you find these useful
Version 4 - Late
Whoever said "never apologise, never explain" had it all wrong! Eclipse-fm® is later than we would have liked. Our apologies for that, and the explanation is that it has been a very ambitious task, with both the EBME work and the move to MS SQL Server affecting many existing areas of the system. As a result, we think this will be a very big step forward in the functionality of Eclipse-fm®, and one that you will find very important in extending the reach and excellence of your FM department.
However, it is not our intention to repeat this level of complex change in a single release. For the future, we intend more frequent and more incremental releases. For example the next release will concentrate on the list of outstanding improvements, irritations and those things we are never supposed to speak of - bugs! Hopefully, our long suffering and much appreciated Feedback Group members will finally get to see the back of these, before we move ahead with more new functionality subsequently.
In the meantime, as well as Version 4 itself, you have the new Trix Document Management facility as a new product integration, of particular interest to those for whom interactive access to AutoCAD drawings is a need, though Trix is much more than just an AutoCAD document manager of course.
So, as we look ahead to next year, we look forward to working with you to introduce Eclipse-fm® v4, - all part of your regular subscription of course - and to seeing many more of you at Training Sessions and Feedback Group meetings.
The takeup for training has accelerated noticeably in 2008, giving Chris Simkins, our Trainer in succession to Karen Vermeersch, lots of work and lots of chances to meet; users. What we have found from this, and from our visits to Eclipse-fm® using sites is that:-
You do need training
Facilities Management is a complex business, and increasingly demanding of levels of excellence and provability. Eclipse-fm® benefits from the long term experience of a lot of active and experienced NHS (and not just "general") Facilities Managers whose views and methods have been adopted into the product only after discussion and debate. This means that by using Eclipse-fm® you are adopting "best practice" as agreed by a lot of people who know what they are talking about. In fact, Eclipse-fm® has the characteristics of a workflow application, which, when set up to work how you want it to, will considerably automate the day to day operation of your FM department.
But - at the very least you and your staff will need time to sit back and get to grips with what this means both to get Eclipse-fm® working "your way" and in terms of the improved working practices that Eclipse-fm® might encourage.
Its not all extra work - Peter Maybury, Dudley PCT from earlier this year:- "This is reducing the work load on our help desk operator who is now able to carry on with other tasks".
And you will be providing a better service. Eclipse-fm® provides extensive feedback on how the department is working and can contribute greatly to the process of continuous improvement that is key to delivering quality of service.
But - you have to know that it can!
You must put training into immediate use
Our mistake has been in not insisting on tightly coordinating training and installation. We have seen that it is no good arriving back from a training course to find an Eclipse-fm® installation not ready for day to day use. This is down to us, and one of our big 2009 resolutions is to make sure this doesnt happen - though we may have to work hard coordinating with you to make sure it doesnt!
Retraining is important
Whether it be a new key member of staff, or a new release of Eclipse-fm®, new circumstances may need new training. Dont expect a newcomer to be able to pick it up as he or she goes along. Unless you can genuinely provide internal training from existing staff who have both the time and experience to do it well, talk to us! And when a new release comes out, expect us to be talking to you!
Eclipse-fm® really will help your FM operation
Where older and/or non NHS specialised FM systems are in use, we have sometimes found that the FM software can be seen as lot of work for little reward. Therefore the need for all the hard work - and it is hard work - of adopting a new system may well be questioned!
Eclipse-fm® is not just a recording and reporting FM System - its not just about "type it in and report it back at the end of the month". Properly used, Eclipse-fm® will help you run your department, and will make it easy for your staff to work in a highly efficient, well documented and fully auditable manner.
As just one example, Version 4 includes a search engine so that the user can search through the task history to find information e.g. "how did we fix this last time".
But first you have to learn how to "properly use it"!
Eclipse-fm® can mean changes
Eclipse-fm®s ability to help you manage your FM processes may need changes in how people work. Two examples
Most FM departments use Task Feedback to provide management information to help fine tune task timings and therefore task planning. But entering this data can be an unpopular chore and one that often results in a backlog of task feedback. At worst, the whole process is abandoned when the backlog gets too big! Eclipse-fm® provides for tradesmen to enter feedback on the spot - either through a PC screen or via the mobile task management module on a PDA. Instead of delayed feedback, your task histories are now potentially always up to date, and desk staff are freed to for more productive work - helpdesk support, reception duties and all the other things that the FM support staff have on their plate.
Up to date task histories mean that Helpdesk staff can provide accurate feedback to "Whats happened to my Job" Enquiries, and/or Trust staff will get up to the moment details from the Web module task enquiry.
But you have to change way Tradesmen use the system, and that needs some work to get them to buy into the concept. Even some training?
WIMS users in particular may have accumulated hundreds of task templates where "escalating maintenance" is involved. Annual service includes the 6 month service and the 3 month service" sort of thing.
Eclipse-fm® simplifies this by allowing you to define such servicing schedules naturally to follow that pattern. Just one template will get your recurring PPMs fully defined to cover such "escalating maintenance".
But without training, and the time to sit back and look at the whole of what Eclipse-fm® can do for you, you might well miss that trick.
So, up your game in 2009
Eclipse-fm® Version 4
As this newsletter goes out, Version 4 is now in final in house testing and will be going out to selected users in January. Two immediate impressions - it looks different, and it seems to be running much faster compared with V3.
The appearance change is distinctive, though relatively minor. Gone is the beige, mildly 3d look, and in comes a more current blue theme and a "flatter" appearance. But this is only fashion, albeit one we have to keep up with! Much more importantly, particularly for those not yet using MS SQL Server as the data base, it feels much faster in operation. Even MS SQL Server users may notice some increase in speed, as with everyone now going to be using the server database, we have been able to take advantage of SQL optimisations.
So - Whats new and Whats Changed?
Overall, there are a lot of changes in this release, and from both a functional and visual point of view, we think you are going to find a lot to be happy with.
The most significant areas of change and improvement are
Data Constraining by User Profile
You may define a user to only see data for a particular Site, or Organisation,for a particular Store, or for particular types of tasks.
This will meet the needs of multi-site Trusts to provide for local level (site) management, while allowing higher level users to see and particularly to gain management information, from the whole Trust FM database.
It ill also allow specialist staff to only gain access to tasks of a specific nature - EBME being a good example.
We covered the EBME development in the last Eclipse-fm® Newsletter. As well as "just EBME", this brings in
The EBME module brings in the potential for handling many other "specialist needs" maintenance scenarios - covering a variety of classes of equipment that need different information to be associated with each maintenance task
MS SQL Server
For those not already using MS SQL server for Eclipse-fm® data this will be a big change. This data-base migration was covered in the July Newsletter, along with the reasons and benefits of the move to this server database, so that you would have plenty of time to make any preparations. Now that we are getting close to the day, maybe you should refresh your memory as to whats involved - and start talking to us if you foresee any problems.
A search engine is now included so that the user can search through the history to find information e.g. how did we fix this last time etc. Another SQL benefit, incidentally
Task Search Engine
This means that instead of having to move around between multiple processes, and having to find your order for each one, you can stay within the "Order" and now see everything that relates to it - current status (requisition, order, processing, completion, etc.) and all of the current actions that can be carried out against it.
This could have lost the "process-centric" approach of the current system, but the new Purchase Order view lets you change to a different order without changing the currently active tab - just as with the current stage-based process in the separate views. So if you need to process "goods received" for a bunch of orders, just work on the first one in the Goods Received Tab, then you just stay on that tab as you find the others you need to process.The "best of both worlds" solution should make the job of those involved in Purchasing a lot easier.
The Authorised Transactions tab acts as a control centre for progressing orders, and ensures that an order is properly progressed through the process, and that an audit trail record is created for every stage. This closely controlled progression provided by the Authorised Transactions Tab should both make the PO system easy to use, as it is difficult to do the wrong thing at the wrong time, and impossible to subvert.
Look and Feel
We think you will find Eclipse-fm® v4 looking distinctly updated and refreshed compared with the current version. Some of the functionality - and improved speed - behind this is Dependant on the MS SQL Server back end, just one indication of the tight interlocking of the various new features!
Of course, there are a lot more changes, some in support of the above, and some as general improvements that would make this update note far too long to read!
Beta Test Sites
We are now looking for Beta testers. No software developer can release software without user testing, and the definitive answer to the question "When will v4 release" now depends on user test results to augment our extensive in house testing.
The current implementation of Purchase Orders was very much lifted from WIMS "as is" and does not do justice to how Windows can really improve application navigation. This is a complete rework, and, for example, brings the number of views involved down to only two. It also corrects a number of long standing WIMS "features" !
The new Purchase Orders view replaces 11 separate views (covering everything apart from the Change Finance Codes View) into one view with 5 Tabs.
What is this option?
In the legacy product, low weeks allowed you to indicate in the system four working weeks that you do not want the system to produce any dockets for which would allow you to catch up with the current workload. As the legacy system worked in units of weeks, this would exclude just that, a week at a time. In Eclipse-fm®, as we have done away with the old way of working, you can now fine tune your scheduled workload down to a single unit of time being a day. This allows you to identify single days as days where you do not want any work to be planned for - No Scheduled Work Dates.
Below is an example of this standard feature in Eclipse-fm®.
(Click on image for a larger version)
You will see that we have populated the list with some typical dates for the current and next year.
Tuning Eclipse-fm® performance
Some recent experiences of helping Trusts with performance issues have been very instructive, and we have put together a White paper on the whole issue.
The key issues are
MS SQL server performance.
Eclipse-fm® will work the server hard, so it needs to have plenty of processor speed and adequate memory. In particular, trying to operate MS SQL Server in less than 1 megabyte of memory on an older server, or worse, within a virtual server on a physical server already doing other things, will result in very slow performance.
If the Eclipse-fm® database is installed to the main Trust MS SQL Server, be sure to asses if there is enough capacity to take on the extra load. If performance is not adequate, particularly check that this central database server is actually providing the capacity and performance that you will need.
Hospital networks are big and overloaded. They may also be multi-site, and the FM department is often involved with usage at remote sites. You need the full bandwidth of a 100MBPS connection, and a Gigabit network backbone to run a busy database application, and longer distance connections typically implemented as 2MBPS leased lines will make the application unusable. In these cases. deployment via MS Terminal Services or Citrix will be needed, and will provide a very effective solution.
Look critically at the actual bandwidth available at busy times of day between database and the PCs running the Eclipse-fm® application.
Eclipse-fm® at the HFC Conference, and Health facilities Scotland
As ever, Eclipse-fm® was featured at the HFC conference, and for the second year running also at the Health facilities Scotland conference. We have a great opportunity to implement Eclipse-fm® into Scottish NHS Trusts, and this conference is proving to be an ideal opportunity to foster interest "North of the Border".
Thats all for now