Facility Management Software
The topic of facility management in general, is not something that you’d be discussing in your daily life unless you’re working in the industry itself
16:59 21 September 2021
From this perspective, it’s not surprising for a lot of people to assume that facility management is something extremely complicated and hard to get into.
This statement is both true and false at the same time. It’s true because facility management is a relatively complicated topic, especially from an outsider’s perspective. At the same time, it’s false because the majority of the confusion comes from the variety of complicated acronyms on the subject – with the most common ones being IWMS, CMMS, EAM, and CAFM.
IWMS – Integrated Workplace Management System – is a long-term planning facility management software that specializes in working with real estate management, workplace resources, environmental factors, and so on.
CMMS – Computerized Maintenance Management Systems – might be the most simple software out of the four, revolving mostly around scheduling and asset maintenance tracking, and often acting as a baseline for other, more specific types of software.
EAM – Enterprise Asset Management – is another example of specific software with long-term planning as the main target, but this one specializes in asset monitoring, asset condition, asset profitability, and so on. Monitoring itself is conducted for the entirety of a project’s lifecycle.
This leaves us with CAFM as the main topic of the article. CAFM – Computer-Aided Facility Management – is a type of management software that, as the name suggests, specializes in managing various facilities with the usage of modern technologies.
CAFM helps a lot with managing various customer-oriented services, be it asset management, facilities service, space management, room reservation, etc. At the same time, CAFM can also offer help to monitor, plan and/or execute multiple different activities inside of buildings in their maintenance stage.
Choosing CAFM for your company might be a tough task to ask for if the person has little experience in the field. To give a better understanding of what makes a great CAFM, it’s important to talk about its feature set, first. Some of the biggest features/benefits that CAFM can offer are presented below.
Real estate management. Leasing and property management are features that you won’t think are possible in CAFM, and yet they are. CAFM is capable of offering lease management features, room scheduling, booking, and some other features. Surprisingly enough, some CAFM solutions are capable of offering an incredibly specific and dedicated set of features solely for real estate management.
Maintenance management. To be fair, this scenario makes CAFM relatively similar to another example of a similar software – CMMS. Both of them are offering a number of specific features that help with maintenance management – asset condition monitoring, assigning preventive maintenance, setting up regular repairs, and such. Additionally, CAFM and CMMS can even be used in tandem, so that CMMS can evaluate and figure out places that need the most maintenance, and CAFM can be used to promote better asset management via comprehensive maintenance.
Administrative functions. Saying that CAFM can only work for physical assets is a flat-out lie. In reality, it can help with streamlining office staff, at the very least – by utilizing a relatively narrow set of administrative functions. Additionally, there are CAFMs that offer human resource tracking, too, providing a useful tool for boosting an overall security level via user logging, unexpected visitor checking, etc. On that topic – human resources are not the only ones that can be tracked, leaving the room for various packages and materials inside of your facility.
Data-centric nature. Following the modern trend, CAFM as a software relies heavily on data to be able to perform properly. The main reason behind CAFM being so invested in the current trend of data analysis is the nature of data-driven decisions – they’re extremely useful and much more down-to-earth than most of the predictions, which makes for plenty of benefits for both businesses in general, and for managers specifically.
In some cases, it’s even possible to adapt parts of computer-aided design to assist data processing. This allows CAFM to drastically expand its feature set, providing far more capabilities than ever before. For example, real estate agents are now capable of showcasing different aspects of buildings to their clients – even before the building in question is constructed.
Planning and space management. Resource allocation might just be one of the strongest characteristics of CAFM, it also helps with asset placement, layout planning, workforce management, and more. All of that derives from the way that CAFM operates – as a comprehensive database of information about your facility, with an abundance of parameters, from construction data to energy consumption, safety information, and so on.
Lifecycle management. Managing a company’s assets throughout the entire company lifecycle is one of the main goals of CAFM. Some specific features of CAFM are often tailored to help with long-term planning, among other things. CAFM is supposed to work not only with the entirety of a building in general but also with objects and people inside of it so that asset management becomes less of a problem for the entire company.
Infrastructure management. Another substantial target of CAFM as a system is the ability to handle multiple administrative operations – such as remote management and remote monitoring. This allows buildings to improve safety, reduce costs and energy usage, and more. Sometimes, it’s even possible to link CFAM to the actual infrastructure of a building, be it HVAC, lighting, etc.
This concludes our list of main advantages of CAFM and allows us to move further, to the recommendations about choosing a particular solution for yourself. It’s possible to figure out three general recommendations about the process, avoiding all of the case-specific and industry-specific matters:
- Figure out the main goal of you adopting the CAFM solution. One of the biggest starting points for this entire process is knowing what you’re going to do with the software in question. It’s important to not overestimate yourself, too – CMMS works just fine for single-site facilities with basic maintenance needs, but bigger, multi-site companies would most likely need a hybrid solution of sorts – depending on what equipment you’re working with, how spread out are your facilities, what is the state of terrain between these facilities, and so on.
- Calculate the list of features that you’re expecting to have. It is done mostly to avoid overlap of features from different solutions, which is quite common, and surprisingly problematic. In this context, it’s important to remember that different solutions operate with different levels of intensity, and different feature sets, too. They’re not exactly mutually exclusive, but their interaction needs to be kept under control to avoid unnecessary problems.
- Look into deployment options to see which one fits you the most. There are multiple different deployment methods that you can choose from, each of them has its own set of advantages and caveats. Cloud deployments, for example, are flexible and relatively cheap – as long as you’re not a massive company, since the most preferred method of payment calculation is headcount, plus additional paid features. On-premise deployments, on the other hand, are physically deployed over your own hardware, which makes its cost slightly higher, and opens up another problem of improving cybersecurity – but it does offer a lot more customization options than the cloud one. Hybrid deployments, as the name suggests, are a combination of the two, with each and every hybrid solution out there having its own unique approach to CAFM deployment as a whole.
While it is somewhat problematic to figure out the correct CAFM solution, this article should serve as a great starting point for your buyer’s journey.