What is CAFM? Computer-Aided Facility Management Software Explained
Facility management is a lot of work. CAFM software is here to help by enabling a shift of facility management tasks into the digital sphere.
So, what exactly do CAFM systems cover? What are their main features and benefits? How do they compare with other FM software like CMMS, IWMS, and ERP?
Those are all good questions and can’t be answered in a couple of paragraphs.
Let’s dive right in.
What is CAFM?
CAFM stands for Computer-Aided Facilities Management. When it is spelled out like that, it is much easier to understand what CAFM software aims to do – it helps you streamline facilities management by keeping all relevant information in one place.
CAFM technology combines business administration, behavioral science, architecture, and engineering concepts in order to improve organizational functionality. It helps facility managers track, manage, and report on day-to-day business operations at their facility.
While CAFM has many different facets, it is useful to think of it as a comprehensive commercial facility or building management tool.
Don’t worry if you still do not understand what CAFM software actually does. To get a complete picture, you need to look at the core features (which we will cover later in the article).
Who has a need for a CAFM system?
Well, anyone who needs to run a complex facility and has the feeling that things are slipping out of their hands.
Constant complaints, mountains of paperwork, no way to gauge operational costs and other critical information, operational losses due to inefficient processes, equipment breakdowns, or poor space and asset utilization – these are just some of the problems CAFM is trying to solve.
Computer-aided facility management is useful for putting together the puzzle of finance, HR, management, and logistical physical concerns.
Companies are even starting to hire CAFM administrators due to their widespread usability. They take care of the procedural details so facility managers can stay focused on the big picture and plan accordingly.
Key features of Computer Aided Facility Management software
Different CAFM systems provide different functionality. That being said, the core features we discuss below should be found in any better CAFM solution.
Space planning & management
Integrated CAFM systems give you a well-rounded picture of how your facilities are being used. They do so by offering a convenient way to store asset information, floorplans, equipment location, and more.
Most of these tools are built to optimize space planning & management. They can prescribe the best layouts based on allotted space. Some of them go as far as to map out how equipment should be utilized to optimize processes.
CAFM lets you schedule maintenance operations at various time intervals, or based on equipment performance directly within the software. These preventive maintenance check-ups keep costs much lower than what emergency repairs or (worse) replacements would cost. Beside that, the software enables you to manage your assets throughout their whole lifecycle.
If you plan to run more advanced maintenance strategies like predictive maintenance or you need a more detailed insight into your maintenance operations, your best bet is to utilize a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).
Physical building administration
CAFM software has the ability to connect to HVAC units, lighting, lock systems, and other equipment in your buildings. These features let facility managers turn equipment on and off without necessarily being present. Most CAFM systems monitor your meter readings too and alert you when an equipment needs supervision.
Computer-aided facility management software allows you to rent out portions of facilities to clients. Managers, by charging for the utilization of each space in your facilities, generate extra revenue for their organizations. CAFM can optimize your facility’s space for business uses as well. The software lets every property manager navigate through leasing and real estate management by:
Managing long-term leases
Tracking contract statuses
Renting facility spaces
Monitoring renters’ needs
CAFM solutions can also act as databases for tracking and storing incident reports. Anytime a safety issue is reported in your facility, you get to add it to the reports and retrieve it at any point in time in the future. This helps managers prepare for audits and inspections.
Energy performance analysis
CAFM software helps track your energy usage and performance by monitoring utility bill data. This data includes energy and non-energy sources. CAFM then benchmarks this against your competing facilities of the same size to better evaluate your environmental footprint.
These insights help you gauge if your sustainability projects are being well implemented. They also allow every manager to determine whether or not further sustainability projects need to be implemented to improve performance and manage reducible costs.
Benefits of using CAFM software
While you could infer most of them from everything we covered so far, here is a quick outline of the benefits you can reap by utilizing CAFM software.
Prolonged asset lifespans
CAFM offers some basic maintenance management features which will help you keep your physical assets (equipment, furniture, infrastructure…) in good condition. This can also lead to a noticeable increase in asset performance, utilization, and lifespan.
CAFM systems help facility and building managers track all kinds of safety incidents, which can but do not have to be related to equipment malfunction The safety records can then be used as a baseline to implement new or improve existing safety procedures and make other necessary changes.
All facility data in one place
As you keep using a CAFM system, your data keeps being collected and stored on a centralized platform. This is data on all of your equipment and physical assets, buildings and space, capital projects, and more.
You can set up customized dashboards to showcase the data and track key performance indicators. You can quickly and easily generate reports for accurate and in-depth insights. With that at your disposal, it is much easier to optimize your internal resources.
CAFM software is not only extremely functional but also has tremendous cost saving powers:
Fewer equipments breaking down = less money spent on repairs and purchasing replacement equipment
Better organized spaces = better space and asset utilization, without losing money on unused spaces
Control of your energy consumption habits = more money left in your pocket for other expenses.
CAFM, IWMS, CMMS, or EAM: Which one’s for you?
The facilities management world is full of acronyms. For anyone just starting out as a facilities manager, it can be really confusing. Even seasoned managers might need to brush up on their acronym game.
There are tons of different maintenance software providers out there. The confusion arises due to the considerable overlap between the features they offer.
That’s why we took it upon ourselves to answer one very reasonable query: What’s the difference between IWMS, CMMS, CAFM and EAM?
An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) is a software platform designed for administering and optimizing workplace resources, including real estate, infrastructure, and facilities.
The easiest way to describe IWMS is that it usually offers everything you can find in a CAFM software, and then some. A CAFM on steroids, if you will.
Aside from the CAFM features listed above, IWMS can also include:
flexible real estate and lease management features
project management features
environmental management features
mailroom management features
visitor management features
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a centralized digital platform that can be used to automate, streamline, and simplify all of your maintenance operations. It does that by keeping all relevant information about your maintenance resources (labor, assets, inventory) in one place.
CMMS can be used by any organization that wants to proactively care for their physical assets. It is crucial for organizations that have complex assets and are in dire need to minimize unexpected equipment breakdowns.
Enterprise asset management is used by production-oriented organizations to plan, optimize, execute, and track all maintenance activities with the associated priorities, skills, materials, tools, and cost. And EAM software is designed to support that idea.
Head-to-head feature comparison
Use this table as a guideline, not as a rule written in stone. The table is meant to represent what you can find in an average software. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a robust CMMS solution that offers features which are specific for CAFM software and vice versa.
Before any kind for purchase, you first need to look at your organizational needs. What are your challenges at the moment? What should the software be able to solve? What is your budget?
When you know that, you need to do some research. Shortlist vendors by cross-referencing their available features with your needs. After that, take a demo or a trial so you can have some hands-on experience. Most cars have four wheels, but they do not drive the same. It is the only way to test if the software is user-friendly.
A false dilemma is a logical fallacy that says you have to choose between two options, when you actually have more. Don’t run away just yet, we are not starting a philosophy class, this will all make sense in a minute.
Many facility managers might fall into this trap, thinking how their only two options are to buy one of these software solutions or just don’t use any. That is simply not the case.
While there is bound to be a little overlap, more often than not, the optimal choice is to opt-in for a combination.
For instance, many ERP and CAFM solutions have very limited functionality for managing maintenance work. In that scenario, an organization can integrate a CMMS with their ERP/CAFM solution to offer comprehensive support for all of their maintenance management activities.
Ultimately, it all depends on the specific needs of your organization.
Facilities management in the new era
Facility management for the modern day is now responsible for more than just the workspace. It is about asset utilization, physical and cyber security, employees’ well-being, resource consumption, and risk management.
Your work and your knowledge as a facility manager is instrumental to the future of your facility. Use CAFM, CMMS, and other available resources to support your daily work and deliver the best possible service.
"I can track my inventory and it sends me emails when I'm running low on an item. Also that I can track how much time I'm spending on certain jobs over an extended period of time."
— Cody Jensen
Very easy to use, access
"I like the price, the fact I can see it on my phone or the computer. I like that it is internet-based."
— Curt Waisath
Valley Salt LLC
It just works
"Honestly - the customer support has been fabulous. We had a minor feature request that was deployed within 24 hours - which is unheard of. Even better when you consider our business is located in a completely different time zone (somewhere in Australia). Limble is quite intuitive and I love the ability to have assets nested within each other."
— Ed Cronin
Great for smaller or larger facilities
"We haven't fully integrated Limble yet but we are already seeing improvements in our efficiency. As we fully integrate Limble we expect to see more benefits and increase our response and completion times. The customer support has been outstanding. The Limble team is very quick to respond to any questions and they are very open to suggestions."
— Mike Hill
Children's Home of Lubbock
Limble is the best thing to happen to this company
"Limble does such a good job at keeping track of what's been done and letting me know when and what I need to do next."
— Tom Jones
Little Giant Ladder Systems
Great product at a great price
"Terrific customer service, easy to use, and at a great value. Our old Maintenance software was very difficult to use and was very expensive."
— Brian Williams
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