Posted 13th July 2012

Facilities Management software acronyms are confusing!

The world of Facilities Management (FM) is abound with various acronyms used to describe the same or very similar software products. For example, CAFM, IWMS, CMMS, FMIS, BMS, EAM, EMS…to name a few.

For Facilities Managers and software vendors, or anybody else involved in this world, the various acronyms can be extremely confusing. There have been calls for generic terms to be applied or a clear hierarchy of such software products. The difficulty is that the role and scope of a Facilities operation is so diverse that various niche products are developed to serve specific areas. Hence the reason for the array of acronyms we see today. So, what do they all mean?

To begin with, one of the most common acronyms, especially in the UK, is CAFM. CAFM stands for Computer-Aided Facilities Management. As you would expect, the name suggests that software of this type is specifically developed to serve the needs of a Facilities Management department or service provider operation. CAFM solutions will often include a range of modules that help coordinate operations, covering functions such as maintenance (planned, reactive…), resource booking (room, vehicles, catering…) and health and safety (accident reporting, workstation assessment).

IWMS or Integrated Workplace Management System, is a term more commonly known in the US, but is gradually gaining recognition across the world. Whereas CAFM typically focuses on the key role of an FM often for smaller firms, IWMS is much broader and more advanced solution that consists of 5 key components…real estate management, environmental/sustainability, facilities management, project management and maintenance management. IWMS is an enterprise level application, as it encapsulates many CAFM features and covers a much broader scope.

Segmenting the role of a FM department, one of the key aspects of managing any large premises is complete control of building maintenance, i.e. mechanical and engineering duties. The term used to describe software for this type of operation is CMMS, Computerised Maintenance Management System. CMMS is used by facilities or maintenance managers and will consist of all the features required to support Reactive Maintenance and Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) duties, often centred on asset management.

FMIS or Facilities Management Information System, is not to be confused with the other commonly known backronym of Financial Management Information System. FMIS is an underused term as it provides services very similar to CMMS. It could almost be viewed as a bridge between CMMS and CAFM as it often encapsulates the same modules as a typically CMMS, but with the option of leaning more on the financial aspect of Facilities Management, i.e. leasing etc.

BMS stands for Building Management System. BMS is the application used to monitor and control building performance and mechanical equipment such as heating, lighting, safety and security systems. Primarily used by maintenance managers and site engineers, integration of BMS into other CAFM or IWMS solutions is becoming more common, offering a centralised tool for Facilities Managers.

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems focus on the niche aspect of asset management, by providing the tools to ensure physical assets such as plant equipment are optimised and efficiently managed. Through optimisation and performance monitoring, EAM solutions can help provide the tools to maximise efficiency and reduce operational costs.

EMS can be referred to in two ways for Facilities Management, either a) Energy Management System, or b) Event Management System. Energy Management Systems focus on energy consumption in particular a building or buildings. The idea of Energy Management systems is to monitor consumption and produce ways to reduce usage to support a carbon reduction commitment (CRC). As you would expect, Event Management Systems are used by events co-ordinators and not typically facilities managers. That said, Event Management Systems can form part of an IWMS or CAFM software suite as resources managed by facilities departments may form part of the event, i.e. rooms, catering, parking, security etc.

As you can see, there are plenty of acronyms to describe the various software applications used to manage parts of a facilities management operation. As the scope of facilities management covers a vast array, there even more terms that can be unearth. Tabs FM Limited on Facilities Management Software Acronyms


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