CAFM software is widely used throughout facilities management, but we’re still seeing many organisations making the transition from paper and spreadsheets. In this guide we’ll explain what the acronym stands for, what the software is used for, and the benefits to the FM team and wider organisation.
What does the acronym mean?
CAFM stands for computer aided facilities management. FM teams use this software to enable the effective management of physical facilities and assets (hard services), including equipment such as lighting, heating and air conditioning, in addition to building services (soft services) such as cleaning, grounds maintenance and security. It provides a secure, centralised way to log and schedule reactive and planned maintenance, produce reports, reduce budgets, manage space and improve the workplace for all employees.
CAFM vs IWMS
The acronyms CAFM and IWMS, or integrated workplace management software, are often used interchangeably. CAFM is the most common term for facilities management software in the UK while IWMS is more popular in the Americas. Technically, IWMS is an enterprise solution made up of five core components which are typically real estate management, capital project management, facilities management, maintenance management and sustainability and energy management. Both systems tend to be modular and functionality can be added in stages, as required by an organisation.
Spreadsheets vs CAFM
Spreadsheets are undoubtedly a low-cost way to manage a facility, as well as familiar programme for many and widely available in offices. However, maintaining an Excel spreadsheet with hundreds or thousands of entries becomes increasingly unmanageable as an organisation’s assets and services grow and evolve. In many organisations, facilities management is a fast-paced and challenging environment, making it logistically difficult to keep information up to date in a spreadsheet and, in particular, to produce comprehensive reports from it for informed decision making. CAFM software also guards against accidental deletions and allows multiple users to access and input data at the same time, unlike a spreadsheet.
Benefits of CAFM software
Unlike a spreadsheet, computer aided facilities management software is broadly multi-functional, offering myriad tools to help FMs manage their workload, improve the workplace and control costs. Below is a summary of the main benefits, but is by no means an exhaustive list:
- Efficient management of reactive maintenance via a centralised FM helpdesk
CAFM systems can rapidly capture and prioritise reactive maintenance requests and tasks, and identify unresolved calls, thereby enabling rapid job resolution. Building occupants can log jobs, report breakdowns and request services 24 / 7, and track jobs from notification through to completion via self-service functionality. FM staff can also log activities, notify progress and close tasks once completed.
- Improved equipment value through intelligent asset management
Maintenance management software can help to reduce asset downtime, improve asset performance, extend asset life and lower maintenance costs. It can help FMs to manage their assets and buildings efficiently, centralise equipment data, streamline audits and inspections, calculate asset depreciation and maintain assets in the most cost-effective way.
- Complete legal, regulatory and occupational health and safety compliance and auditability
FMs can build and maintain comprehensive legal, regulatory and occupational health and safety strategies; CAFM helps to identify, evaluate and manage relevant information.
- Tighter control of in-house and external contractors, resulting in improved service delivery
FMs are able to intelligently manage personnel by viewing open activities and allocating jobs based on work schedules and skills. Jobs can also be easily reallocated. Dedicated mobile apps can be deployed to operatives in the field to improve communication, work resolution times and first-time fix rate as all information is easily accessible and up-to-date.
- Improved departmental performance through KPI reporting
Reporting tools for real-time performance monitoring, trend analysis and KPI / SLA management, to ensure that vital business information is readily available to key staff to support strategic decision-making. Bespoke reports can be produced in a very short time.
- Enhanced levels of customer satisfaction
FMs can measure service delivery and quality against contractual obligations to improve performance, increase levels of customer service and generate cost savings. The software can also capture and measure customer feedback following job completion. Performance can be improved, where necessary, to meet clients’ expectations and to ensure business retention.
- Improved meeting room and space utilisation
Centralise the management of meeting and conference rooms, shared workspace and hot desks. Reporting tools can provide insight into meeting room use, and costs, to help strategic decision-making.
- Sustainable operational cost savings across all areas of facilities management
CAFM typically results in continuous cost savings and improved use of assets throughout their entire lifecycle. Typically, there should be a positive return on investment within two years of deployment, or less.
How easy is it to implement?
The process to implement CAFM software and how long this take depends on a number of factors including the complexity of the system being installed, the cleanliness of the data being imported, and the processes in place at your own organisation. Whether moving from spreadsheets or an existing FM system, it’s prudent to review and cleanse the data – deciding whether all or part of it should be imported (or if a fresh start is required). From start to finish, including system design, set up, testing and training can take around three to five months. SWG has created a range of resources to make the implementation process quicker and easier, including:
- White paper: Best Practice for Successful Software Implementation
- White paper: Quick Guide to Buying CAFM software
- Blog: Free Your Locked-Up Data – Tips for Moving to CAFM
- Blog: How to Transition from Spreadsheets to CAFM software
Which is the best CAFM software?
Unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to software, and FMs must decide what they require from CAFM and implement a software to match. There are many similarities between the different systems on the market so once the list of system requirements has been made, FMs should also review what the vendors themselves can provide. This could include post-implementation support like training, user events and special interest groups; how often new functionality and updates are released; if the vendor has a proven track history of excellence such as client case studies and certifications (e.g. ISO, Cyber Essentials, Microsoft Partner); if they can easily integrate your new software with other systems like building management systems (BMS), building information modelling (BIM), finance and invoicing, space and computer aided design (CAD) or sensors.
Service Works Global has developed the market-leading CAFM software, QFM, used by FM teams in all sectors around the world. Independent software advisory body Verdantix recently scored QFM the highest among all participants in the maintenance and asset management functionality category of their Green Quadrant for Integrated Workplace Management Systems.
Watch a 5-minute video overview of QFM software, or book a personalised demonstration to show how our software can meet the specific challenges at your organisation.