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Acronyms in FM - jargon or faster communication?

We’re all ‘guilty’ of over using acronyms, especially with the rapid growth of mobile phones increasing the volume of written communications such as texting, emailing and social media: 93% of people in the UK now own or use a mobile phone. Research shows that millennials, having grown up with this technology, actively avoid phone conversations in favour of more instant, convenient text messages. And with speed comes acronyms – an enormous number are now in operation in casual communication and are even present in business communications: FYI (For Your Information), ASAP (As Soon As Possible), TBC (To Be Confirmed) are just a few of the common timesavers widely used and understood.

The facilities management industry also has its fair share of acronyms to aid speedy communications, such as PPM (Planned Preventative Maintenance), AP (Authorised Person), HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) or even FM (Facilities Management). But when it comes to technology, acronyms seem less welcome and begin to fall under the category of confusing jargon.

A quick twitter poll by @Service_Works to a handful of people this month showed that the majority of people refer to facilities management software as ‘FM Software’ (60%), as opposed to CAFM (20%), CMMS (0%) or IWMS (20%). Our larger scale UK research in conjunction with online news provider i-FM last year showed 40% call the software CAFM, followed closely by FM software at 35%. Many of the respondents to the FM Software Survey 2016 were indeed users of facilities management software, so perhaps we can deduce that the increased number of those comfortable with an acronym is reflective of experience in using the technology.

Facilities management software is growing in popularity – our 2016 survey showed an increase from 36% to 43% since the previous year – but it is not yet fully embedded in the industry (although there are many reasons why it should be.) We believe that FM software will continue to grow throughout the industry, but until such time that it is an everyday tool as useful and familiar as a screwdriver, software acronyms should be used sparingly.

Service Works Group has a full acronym glossary, and the terms used above are explained below for convenience.


Computer Aided Facilities Management (mostly used to describe facilities management software in the UK). The use of CAFM software will 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


Computerised Maintenance Management System (mostly used to describe facilities management software in APAC and Canada). Software which is used to enable the efficient scheduling of maintenance tasks and the effective management of assets and equipment.


Integrated Workplace Management Systems (most commonly used in the USA and Canada). IWMS helps organisations maximise control over assets and maintenance tasks, and manage resources, space, and property portfolios.

FM Software

Facilities Management Software. A generic term to refer to any of the above types of software.


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