From CAFM to IWMS: the evolution of FM software

FM Software

First, there was CAFM. Then came CMMS, EAM, and IWMS. Facility management software has advanced so quickly in the past few decades that you’d be forgiven for feeling a bit lost in the jargon.

In this guide, we’ll help you make sense of FM software landscape—what’s out there, what’s best for your organization—and share some of the emerging advancements we’ll be seeing from FM software in the years ahead.

CAFM vs CMMS vs EAM vs IWMS: What’s the difference?

If you’re researching facility management software for the first time and you’re lost in a sea of options, it’s not your fault.

Here’s a rundown of the different types of FM software available today, along with a quick explanation of what each of these options can do in the workplace.

CAFM

Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software is typically used for managing space and assets. FMs can store floor plans in a CAFM system and perform key tasks like view how their spaces are being used and track assets. CAFM software was the world’s foray into workplace management technology. Unfortunately, CAFMs have become the behemoths of the FM software landscape, often outdated and outpaced by IWMS and other modern solutions.

CMMS

Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and Computerized Maintenance Management Information System (CMMIS) are used interchangeably. CMMS/CMMIS software is typically beneficial to organizations with heavy equipment usage, and those that own their own buildings, as it helps FMs keep track of assets and maintenance tasks.

Because a CMMS is primarily focused on maintenance needs, it lacks the versatility that most FMs need to manage all aspects of the workplace, so it’s common for facilities managers to use a CMMS and a CAFM in tandem.

EAM

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) refers to the process of managing the lifecycle of physical assets and equipment, such as mechanical equipment, computers, and furniture. The goal of EAM is to reduce costs and maximize asset lifetime by improving asset quality, efficiency, health, and environmental safety. FMs will typically use an EAM solution to see where assets are before, during, and after a move.

IWMS

An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) helps FMs manage every aspect of the workplace. Similar to CAFM, FMs can use an IWMS to track assets, store floor plans, and manage moves. In addition, an IWMS allows users to manage real estate, infrastructure, desk sharing, room booking, workplace sensor technology, and more. Unlike a CMMS, an IWMS is a scalable platform; integrations and modules can be added to meet the needs of the organization.

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comparing technology

Is an IWMS better than a CAFM?

In most cases, yes. An IWMS is better than a CAFM.

CAFMs perform well in two core areas:

  • Tracking equipment and people
  • Eliminating the need for manual facility management methods (e.g. spreadsheets and pen-and-paper data keeping)

CAFM solutions primarily focus on people and resources, so the software is predominantly administrative; it doesn’t go the extra step in helping FMs oversee, manage, and streamline the long list of other facility management tasks.

Because IWMS solutions are cloud-based platforms that integrate with other crucial workplace applications, the software allows FMs to manage their workload and collaborate closely with HR, IT, and other teams. IWMS solutions are designed to help FMs manage every aspect of the workplace, with tools that support: 

  • Interactive floor plans
  • Move management
  • Room booking
  • Desk booking
  • Facility request management
  • Real estate management
  • Workplace sensor technology
  • Third-party integrations with other workplace software, like HR platforms and single sign-on (SSO)

IWMS solutions like OfficeSpace are also scalable, meaning they can grow based on the needs of an organization. And because an IWMS can extend its usefulness beyond the facilities management team, IWMS software offers organizations the most comprehensive and user-friendly solution.

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floor plan software

What is the future of FM software?

FM technology may have come a long way already. But as the Facilities Manager role continues to broaden, requiring better tools and data to address an ever-growing list of responsibilities, FM technology will continue to evolve. Here are some of the emerging trends we’re seeing in the FM software landscape.

Integrated real estate management

Previously, real estate management tools operated alongside workplace management software. Some IWS solutions like OfficeSpace are now integrating this function. When an organization’s real estate and lease data is combined with space utilization and workplace data, FMs, CREs, and workplace leaders can make smarter decisions with deeper reports and portfolio insights.

Advanced space optimization

When sensors monitor space utilization throughout an organization, FMs can view live presence numbers. But they can also run reports, which allow FMs to view space utilization over any set period of time. This allows FMs to identify usage trends and optimize space to improve the employee experience. CREs can also use this technology to consolidate and sublet any unused space—not just in a single facility, but across their entire portfolio.

Real-time desk sharing

Modern FM software can now show employees shared desk availability in real time. Sensor technology can automate the management of neighborhoods, eliminating a huge part of the FM workload.

desk sharing

Integrated room booking

FMs and employees experience increased efficiency and room availability. When room booking software is integrated with a company’s workplace management platform, room booking is next-level. Rooms are quick to find and book. Room availability displays in real time. And sensors can help increase the number of available rooms by automatically canceling no-show meetings.

Workplace sensor technology

Sensor technology is one of the most exciting advancements in FM software. When sensors are installed throughout the workplace and integrated with an organization’s IWMS, FMs and workplace leaders can collect anonymous facility data that was impossible to track manually in the past.

Organizations in every industry are using sensors to view live presence detection, improve the employee experience, maximize utilization, automate free addressing and neighborhoods, improve sustainability, save on costs, and so much more. And this is just the start.

Improved cross communication

IWMS and workplace management platforms can improve and automate communication between departments in a number of ways. For example, when a new hire is scheduled for arrival, FM software can simultaneously notify HR (to help with onboarding), Facilities (to help with finding the employee a desk), and IT (to schedule the setup and installation of any required technology). Automated move notifications keep everyone in the loop. Slack integrations give teams access to the workplace via Slack, helping everyone stay focused. And this, really, is just the start.

As the world's leading FM software, OfficeSpace integrates with the world's best workplace technology providers. 

If you're interested in learning more about how we can help you create the workplace you've always wanted, book a demo with our team.

Photo Credits: energepic, Gerd Altmann, Jopwell