Facility Management Software Systems. Best CAFM Software Tools in 2021.
The general topic of Facility Management Software and CAFM might seem incredibly complex for a lot of people – even though it’s not particularly complicated on its own. One thing that makes it complicated is the abundance of similar software types in the same industry, such as CMMS, EAM, and IWMS.
Without going into extensive explanations, it’s possible to say that CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Systems) is the most basic software of this set, acting as a baseline of sorts, and it’s mostly focused on tracking asset maintenance and scheduling.
At the same time, EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) is a more specific long-term planning software, which can monitor various assets, as well as their profitability and condition throughout the entire lifecycle of those assets. IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System), on the other hand, focuses more on workplace resources, real estate management, environmental sustainability, and so on.
This brings us to the last acronym of the four – CAFM, or Computer-Aided Facility Management.
What is CAFM?
Computer-Aided Facility Management is a specific type of facility management software that allows its users to optimize a lot of customer-oriented services in an organization, such as room reservations, facilities service, space management, asset management, and so on. Additionally, CAFM software allows for planning, execution, and monitoring of various activities within buildings as they’re entering the maintenance phase.
On its most basic level, a CAFM system helps with the planning phase for a variety of specific facility or building operations – including the majority of mundane daily operations. Another way of looking at CAFM software is as you’d look at a comprehensive building maintenance tool with a variety of useful features and options.
Features and benefits of CAFM
Data-centric approach. CAFM’s bread and water is information; it’s at the core of how the entire system functions. Additionally, later versions of CAFM software utilize elements of computer-aided design (CAD) in a variety of ways and combine it with data processing.
As with many modern business tools, CAFM is also becoming heavily invested in the current trend of data collection and data analysis. The consensus is that these data-driven decisions are much more down-to-earth and useful than ever before, improving many different aspects for managers and their businesses in general.
The addition of CAD drastically increases the number of features and capabilities that CAFM is capable of providing. One such feature is about giving real estate agents and their clients the means of actually looking at different aspects of homes that are still in the middle of construction.
Management of maintenance jobs. In this case, CAFM is actually similar to one of the software types that it often gets confused for – CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Systems). Both CAFM and CMMS can offer a variety of features to help with maintenance management, including performing preventive maintenance, scheduling routine repairs, monitoring asset conditions, and so on.
And that is not everything. CAFM can also be used to promote comprehensive maintenance for better asset management. In these cases, it’s not uncommon for CAFM and CMMS to be used together, since CMMS is more about evaluating places that need maintenance the most.
Various administrative operations within the facility are one of the core features of computer-aided facility management software. It’s not uncommon for CAFM to be linked to the actual building’s infrastructure, including lighting, HVAC, and so on.
This allows for partial remote management, as well as remote monitoring. Both of the mentioned improve the overall facility’s safety, can save the company’s money, and can even reduce energy usage, thus aiding the environment.
Space management and planning.
Resource allocation and space management are where CAFM often excels at. In some cases, it can help with asset placement throughout the facility. It’s even possible to use CAFM as a means for figuring out the best layout for industrial/commercial processes within that facility. Workforce management is also possible with the same CAFM software. That is possible due to the way CAFM works – it often acts as a comprehensive database of information about your facility. Information that gets included ranges from construction data and floor plans to fire and safety data, energy consumption, and so on.
Real estate management and leasing.
Property management can also be performed with the help of the CAFM system, and the same goes for leasing. This includes operations such as room scheduling, booking, lease management, and so on. Some CAFMs are capable of offering surprisingly narrow and specific property management features.
Lifecycle management. One of CAFM’s biggest goals is to help managers with making sure that the entirety of the company’s assets are utilized in one way or another. That’s why some specific features of CAFM can be helpful with long-term planning and various needs (capital improvements, for example).
In this context, the CAFM system not only works with the building as a whole but also with everything inside of it, making it easier to manage different kinds of assets if it’s within the same software group.
Administrative operations. That’s not to say that CAFM is all about physical facilities or assets. It’s also possible for a CAFM system to provide a set of administrative functions for the purpose of streamlining office staff.
Some CAFM systems also offer human resource tracking. This can be used for user logging, checking for unexpected visitors, and simply increasing the overall security.
The same can be applied to materials and packages within your facility. This can be used in a number of ways, such as audit trails, deliveries, purchasing, and procurement – all of which can benefit from the addition of CAFM software.
Choosing a facility management solution
While there’s an exasperating amount of varying factors that might affect your choice of specific facility management software, it’s still possible to give general recommendations on how to choose the correct type for your specific company. By that logic, we’ve managed to figure out three recommendations:
- Determine the extent of functionality that you need. Different kinds of facility management software tend to create a lot of confusion, especially because of their feature overlap. Luckily enough, there are some specific traits that can be used to discern specific types of facility management systems.
For example, EAM solutions are better known for their extensive functionality in regards to handling various assets via a centralized access point. CMMS software, on the other hand, has a smaller list of features and can often work with only physical assets and a medium-sized set of facilities.
That’s not to say that these software types are not mutually exclusive, it’s not uncommon for them to coexist or even integrate into each other to work better.
- Define your main goal for the solution. Knowing exactly what you’re going to use facility management software for is a big part of choosing in the first place. Single-site facilities usually only require basic maintenance management software, and CMMS works best in these cases.
Other, more complex examples, may need hybrid solutions or something much more specific since the growth in complexity is not always about the size or the number of facilities. For example, if your equipment includes mobile assets (public sector vehicles, for example) – it’s going to be grouped separately from the stationary equipment of a company. It’s also not uncommon for complex facilities to have multiple locations, each of them with varying environments and interfering variables, including environmental hazards, terrain, etc.
- Research possible deployment options. Deployment methods for facility management systems tend to differ a lot from each other. There are three general ways to deploy a facility management system – cloud, on-premise, and hybrid.
Cloud deployment tends to be relatively cheap, with the price rising quickly for larger companies with a bigger headcount, or with a lot of customization preferences. On the other hand, cloud deployment is flexible and can be accessed not only from desktops but also using phones or tablets. Additionally, since in this case, it’s up to the cloud vendor to protect your data now, it’s not uncommon for them to have the most advanced data protection solutions on the market.
On-premise facility management uses your own hardware as the main storage for the entire system. It’s generally a bit more costly than the cloud variation, but it’s often a one-time purchase, with quite fewer additional purchases required. On-premise deployment offers a lot more customization than cloud, but the location of your data means that you also have to concern yourself with cybersecurity matters.
Hybrid deployments act as a combination of the examples above, and there are many variations of hybrid deployments, with most of them being really unique and depending on the industry you’re working in.
Popular examples of facility management software
Since the definition of facility management software includes several different types of said software, it’s possible to figure out 7 examples of the most popular facility management systems (according to Capterra):
Procore is one of the most popular software providers in the construction software market, offering a vast management solution that operates your projects, resources, and finances during each phase of the project. It can act as a communication platform between teams so that each participant of a project is directly involved in the project completion process. Procore also offers mobile versions of its software, and it’s also really easy to have all of the necessary documents at hand inside of your smartphone or tablet, bringing mobility to an entirely new level.
UpKeep is a known participant in the facility management software market, offering modern solutions for asset management and maintenance with numerous features. The entire system is also quite portable, so it can not only be accessed from your desktop, but also by using your phone or a tablet. You can use UpKeep to create work orders, receive alerts in case of emergencies, and be notified when one of your tasks changes status – all of that can be used to achieve incredible results when it comes to the efficiency regarding your business.
3. Asset Panda
Asset Panda is a comprehensive cloud-based asset tracking platform, offering a number of services that help with tracking, managing, and supporting a company’s assets throughout the entire lifecycle of these assets. The software’s mobility is also on an impressive level since they include a dedicated mobile app that mirrors most of the cloud version’s features, allowing you to perform asset management from anywhere with only your phone and an Internet connection.
EZOfficeInventory is an extensive tracking software that is mostly aimed at asset tracking within the facility management industry. This CMMS software can track the costs of your maintenance, manage vendors, schedule services, customize alerts, and more. Extensive reports can also be generated with this solution, including full maintenance history, actionable service reports, and everything else that might be needed for the purpose of performing preventive maintenance.
mHelpDesk is a dedicated facility management solution that is capable of automating the entire process of interacting with customers. This solution is aimed mostly at smaller businesses that are looking for ways to achieve better organization, more efficient scheduling, and easier billing processes. With mHelpDesk, you can get all of that, with extensive scheduling capabilities, mobile notifications, the ability to use the entire service even with your phone, and more.
6. Easy Storage Solutions
Easy Storage Solutions, as the name suggests, is a self-storage solution for mostly small to medium-sized companies within the self-storage industry. It offers a number of industry-specific features, such as online renting, several means of sending reminders, a dedicated website, financial reports, recurring billing, and more. The company also offers a number of additional services to assist self-storage business owners, such as call answering, accounting, SEO, digital marketing, etc.
Sine is a dedicated workplace software for varying categories of users – staff, contractors, couriers, students, visitors, and more. Sine can “check-in” and manage guest lists, employee lists, and so on, it can send notifications to pre-registered guests in several different ways and offers extensive customer support. The entire solution is easy to set up and has a free trial period.
Facility management software is an incredible tool that can improve a company’s productivity in a number of ways. At the same time, it’s a moderately complicated topic that requires some research to be properly understood, especially when it comes to differences between types of software. In this article we’ve attempted to summarize the majority of important information about facility management software as a whole, and about CAFM systems in particular.