Facilities Management Software

How to find the best facilities management software to streamline your building’s management and maintenance facility processes.

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Whether you’re the owner of a corporate office building, a social housing site, a school, a hospital, or multiple real estate properties, keeping your facility in tip-top shape can be overwhelming. But, that’s where facilities management software can help.

With the right tools, you – as a facilities manager or landlord – are able to streamline your building’s maintenance, management and workplace processes. Resulting in maximised efficiency and improved workflow throughout the workplace.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to identify the gaps in your current facility activities and understand the need to implement an effective solution. You’ll then be able to dive into a marketplace full of vendors and software solutions to find the best Computer-aided facilities management software tool that matches your requirements. Here’s what you can expect:

What is Facilities Management Software?

What is Facilities Management Software?

Defined by the IFMA as the “practice of coordinating the physical workspace with the people and work of the organisation”, facilities management software is a tool used to organise and plan the management and maintenance tasks within a facility.

Referred to as Computer-aided Facilities Management (CAFM) or FM software, an effective tool will incorporate features that aim to improve the efficiency of your facility processes. Enabling you to deliver the best possible workplace experience for your occupants.

Some vendors may portray facilities management in the same light as a Computerised maintenance management system (CMMS). Or even an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWNS). But, it’s important to know, that FM software is so much more than that.

It offers the maintenance management of a CMMS and the workplace management of IWNS in one package. As well as delivering a variety of other valuable functions.

Typical features include maintenance planning, asset management, work order management and space management. With these features, you’re able to:

Facility management is a tool mostly used by enterprises and owners of multiple facilities. But, through affordable SaaS and cloud-based options, small and medium businesses (SMBs) are beginning to take advantage of FM solutions. Although, 40% of small businesses still track their assets manually.

What are your processes as a facilities manager or property owner?

What are your processes as a facilities manager or property owner?

Whether you’re a facility manager or property owner, your role is to ensure efficiency and safety throughout the premises. This is achievable through functions such as asset management, preventive maintenance and work order management.

But, keeping on top of your building’s endless processes can be challenging. Especially if you’re using time-consuming and error-prone methods such as pen-and-paper or spreadsheets. In fact, a whopping 44% of facilities in 2018 used paper to organise their property processes.

To understand how you can benefit from facilities management, you need to identify your current processes. A great way to do this is to question how you operate within the building. Such as:

Highlight the challenges you face in the upkeep of your buildings

Highlight the challenges you face in the upkeep of your buildings

Being responsible for tasks such as building maintenance, cleaning and asset procurement can take its toll. With so many processes to oversee, gaps may start to appear in your workflow.

For instance, the facilities’ manager of today is expected to manage aspects such as:

That’s not to mention critical activities such as maintenance and equipment management.

But, when problems do appear within your processes, it’s important to take note of each one. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify the exact features you need from a CAFM tool to help close these gaps.

When identifying gaps, it’s beneficial to separate them into two groups. These are hard facilities’ management services (Hard FM) and soft facilities’ management services (Soft FM).

Hard and Soft FM Services: What’s the difference?

Knowing the difference between your hard and soft facilities’ management services is crucial. Especially when it comes to identifying the functions you require from a software solution.

Keep in mind that the right CAFM tool should be able to deliver on improving both your hard and soft services.

Each service is unique to a property and can depend on the business type, building size and location. It’s also important to remember that most services, whether hard or soft, are required by law.

What are hard FM services?

Hard FM services are physical parts of the property that cannot be removed for the sake of the safety and welfare of the building’s occupants. These include:

What are soft FM services?

As opposed to hard services, soft FM services impact the workplace and make the working environment more pleasant and secure for occupants. Soft services are a bit more comprehensive and complex when compared to hard services. These include:

Top Tip: If you can’t pinpoint challenges within your workflow, it’s a good idea to seek external input. Don’t be afraid to ask your team or management if there is anything they can see that needs improving. You could contact other facility managers in your industry and ask what challenges they faced as well.

Identify the key features you need from a CAFM tool to meet your maintenance and management requirements

Identify the key features you need from a CAFM tool to meet your maintenance and management requirements

Having a solid understanding of what you require from a CAFM tool can benefit your decision in two ways:

  1. You’re able to generate milestones and KPIs to measure the success of using an FM tool

  2. You’re able to easily outline and communicate your expectations with the business’s decision-makers

Depending on your processes, the primary functions that you require from a CAFM tool will vary.

For example, your goal may be to decrease the cost of equipment downtime. In this case, you’ll want a facilities’ management solution that focuses on preventive maintenance. In fact, downtime can be so damaging that it can cost facilities somewhere between 5% and 20% of their productive capacity.

It’s important to note that all CAFM solutions you find will offer similar features and functions. But, some may focus on the aspect of one task more than another. Common features include:

After mapping out your facility tasks and identifying the challenges you face, you’re able to highlight the specific features you need. For instance, you may require a tool to:

Top Tip: To ensure a tool is best suited to you, separate your requirements into two lists; ‘I need’ and ‘I want’. Using this method allows you to prioritize certain aspects over others. For example, “I need the system to be cloud-based to access data on mobile devices”. Or, ” want to upload our company logo into the system”.

How to shortlist and compare software to find the best facilities management tool

While most software for facilities management can look the same, there are variations that can make a significant difference.

For instance, you may come across one application that is focused more on providing mobile access for departments. Whereas another tool may put all of its attention into maintenance management, much like a CMMS.

The slight differences in a vendor’s product make it important for you to have an idea of what you require from your CAFM tool. Once you have these desirables in place, you’re in good shape to search the marketplace.

Here’re four steps we recommend taking while searching for the right vendor:

  1. Have a definitive list of the features, requirements and KPIs

  2. Shortlist at least five vendors that match your list of requirements

  3. Screenshot, write down or print out the functions that each vendor can supply

  4. Make a list of noteworthy points from each vendor such as free trials, training support and prices

At the end of this comparison and evaluation stage, you should be left with the ideal tool that is going to meet your requirements. While also improving the efficiency of your management and maintenance processes, and helping to achieve milestones.

Here’re a few points to keep in mind when it comes to comparing facilities management software vendors against one another:

Facilities Management Software FAQs

What is CAFM software?

Computer-aided Facilities Management Software (CAFM Software), also referred to as FM software, enables facility managers and landlords to effectively manage their building maintenance from one centralised system. A typical FM solution will provide the tools necessary to reduce property costs and improve efficiency throughout the built environment. With CAFM software, you’re able to:

  • Track and manage building assets

  • Store and sort occupant data

  • Build preventative maintenance schedules

  • Monitor spare parts inventory

  • Organise and store outsourcing personnel data

  • Digitalise payments and invoices

What is the best CAFM software?

Choosing the best CAFM software is subjective and depends on what features you require from a facility management tool. It’s also important to remember that what may be the best CAFM system for one organisation, may not be the best choice for your facility processes. Factors to consider when finding the best CAFM software for your building include:

  • Size of the property

  • Maintenance requirements

  • Spending budget

  • Outsourced tasks

  • Stakeholder input

  • Workplace personnel (cleaners, electricians, plumbers, technicians, etc.)

What is the difference between CAFM and CMMS?

Although there are similarities between Computer-aided Facilities Management software and a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS), there are also critical differences between the two when deploying them in the facility management industry.

A CAFM system is implemented to assist facility managers with automating various facility management tasks. This includes:

  • Perform cost control audits

  • Manage and organise a real-time asset register

  • Hire contractors

  • Outsource facility processes

  • Track the status of work orders

  • Collect and digitalise occupant data

A CMMS, on the other hand, has a more narrow focus on providing tools for the management of maintenance within a building. Tools include:

  • Work order management

  • Build preventative maintenance schedules

  • Provide maintenance reports for technicians

  • Track machine and equipment matinee history

What market sectors can benefit from implementing a CAFM platform?

The implementation of a facilities management tool can benefit a number of different industries, particularly the hospitality and real taste market sector. Whether you’re looking to prolong equipment usage through better asset management, utilise your space management and planning, or improve building and ground maintenance; CAFM can be an effective tool.

For example, here’re four sectors (schools, healthcare, parks and recreation, and churches) that can benefit from the use of a facilities management platform:

  • Implementing Facilities Management Software in Schools

    Being budget conscious and having to meet the continuous demands of Ofsted, schools will benefit from using some form of a facilities management tool. Not only can a facilities solution maintain and manage the upkeep of school properties, but also the ground too. It’s a great way to identify minor concerns that can be rectified as well before they escalate into costly repairs and sufficient downtime of essential equipment. Other benefits include:

    • Adhering to building safety compliances and fire safety regulations and practices

    • Keeping external and internal buildings and grounds clean with outsourced cleaning services (either supplied by the school, district, or MAT)

    • Providing maintenance for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems

    • Planning for maintenance outside of school hours to avoid disruption to staff and students

    • Providing useful and accurate reports to help with planning and budgeting for future maintenance expenditures

  • Implementing Facilities Management Software in Hospitals and Healthcare

    The role of a facilities manager and their team within the healthcare industry is to keep non-clinical services running smoothly in order to help staff focus on delivering exceptional patient care. As well as ensuring hospitals meet standard requirements, a large part of facilities management in healthcare is cleaning. This is either from an outsourced group or a dedicated team of cleaning staff. Other important areas of facilities management in healthcare include:

    • Infection prevention through sterilised cleaning

    • Catering

    • Building maintenance

    • Security

    • Reception hosting

    • Car park management

    • Laundry management

    • Waste management (including chemical and medical waste)

  • Implementing Facilities Management Software in Parks and recreation

    Typically employed by councils and private investors in the UK, facility management tools are essentially required to provide ongoing maintenance to meet health and safety regulations. This provides facility managers to conduct maintenance plans, produce cost estimates, and maintain natural resources. All in a bid to enhance the lives of residents in the town, city, or community. Indoor and outdoor parks and recreation facilities can include:

    • Recreation areas

    • Sports fields and courts

    • Playgrounds

    • Dog parks

    • Communal swimming pools

    • Parking grounds

    • Local restrooms

    • Amphitheatres

  • Implementing Facilities Management Software in Churches

    In churches and other religious facilities, keeping maintenance costs to a minimum is vital. It’s also important to keep in mind that any management, maintenance or facilities team will be volunteers who are looking to give back to the ministry. There are a number of reasons why churches would need a facility management tool, including:

    • Effective cleaning volunteers to prepare churches for events such as weddings and Sunday service

    • Team and project management to align volunteers with the correct jobs

    • All-year-round landscape and ground maintenance

Can the right facilities management tool help to utilise my space management and planning?

Whatever your industry, type or size, effective space management and planning is key for a successful facilities management solution. As a facilities manager, not only are you expected to utilise the space within your built environment, but you also need to manage each physical space’s inventory. Including tracking, maintaining and carrying out maintenance when necessary.

Space management and planning should be a vital part of your facilities management software. It will allow you to attract and retain occupants, improve space efficiency, reduce vacant space, and save on operational costs.

Traditionally, there are three main components of space management planning. Of which, all three are most effectively achieved with a facilities management software tool. These are:

  1. Recording insightful space management data

    By recording space management data, with the help of IoT devices such as energy trackers, you’re able to have an overview of how space is utilised in each property. Two main sources of essential data are the usage of space and the operational costs for each physical space.

  2. Accessing and collecting real-time data

    By implementing a facility system that incorporates the usage of real-time data, you’re able to record accurate data of each of your physical spaces as it happens. This allows for quicker and more efficient move management, as well as accurate tracking to enhance space utilisation.

  3. Planning for effective space utilisation

    Most crucially, through the real-time and space management data your system has collected, you’re then able to efficiently utilise the space within your facility. Not only does this aim to reduce your operational costs, but by choosing to utilise the space you already have, it can also help to reduce the need for further capital investment.

I am a small business owner – is a facilities management tool necessary for me?

Although a facilities management software solution may seem more inclined to enterprises and larger companies, implementing CAFM in a small business should not be overlooked. It may seem like an unnecessary expenditure at first, but it can help save your business money in the long term. Some crucial benefits include:

  • Delegating duties to focus on business operations

    Whether you’re a small business of under 20 employees or under 5 employees, there’s a lot of work that needs to go into effectively managing and maintaining facilities. And, most of the time, all of these responsibilities fall to one or two people. But, with a CAFM tool, managers are able to delegate duties to other staff or outsourced teams. This produces an organised structure within the workplace and promotes a more coordinated effort to help the business grow.

  • Reducing downtime of business-critical assets

    Some facilities management solutions are coupled with an asset management tool, which is valuable for keeping business-critical assets working at an optimal level and avoiding unplanned downtime.

  • Storing all data regarding outsourced facilities management teams

    As most small businesses employ only a handful of staff, the need to outsource certain maintenance and management tasks is unavoidable. This can include anything from cleaning services and building maintenance, to waste management and catering. By having a facilities management tool, you’re able to store all data regarding tasks that have been outsourced. These include outsourced personnel details, maintenance schedules, and support channels.

Top tip: As you begin your search for a facilities management tool, look out for specific cloud based or web based Software-as-a-Service pricing plans. These usually consist of monthly payments and are favourable for a small business with a minimal budget and with room to scale.

Can my facility processes be tracked and managed on a mobile device with a cloud based solution?

When using a cloud based or web based facilities management solution, you’re able to access all facility data via a mobile device. This could be your smartphone, tablet, laptop or other specific hardware. The ability to do so grants you and other teams members access to data when on the move and in the field. This is particularly handy if you need instant access to the system but are not within a distance of your work desktop.

With a mobile solution, you can access data such as maintenance schedules, contact numbers of outsourced personnel, space utilisation, and energy-use statistics. Effectively giving you the ability to analyse information and make decisions straight from your pocket.

As well as being accessible from anywhere with a service signal, cloud based facility solutions can have many other benefits, too. Including:

  • Setting restricted permissions

    As not all staff and personnel need access to the same data, cloud based mobile solutions allow you to set what is accessible and what isn’t. For example, maintenance workers may need access to the building’s floor plans but not the financial documents that are intended for your accountant.

  • Disaster-proof security

    With an on-premise system, the possibility of a server crash or natural disasters such as flood or fire can severely damage your data. But, with a cloud based option, your data is routinely backed-up in real-time. This means when a technical issue does occur you have peace of mind knowing that your data is safe and accessible on all devices.

  • Accessible at all times

    The great thing about a cloud based system is that it is accessible all the time. By being always-on, it means data is cached and updated immediately. For example, if you make a change to a specific file but accidentally close the application, that change will be automatically saved and you can pick up where you left off.

Can a CAFM system make it easier to outsource processes and generally improve my outsourced FM?

By choosing to outsource facilities management processes (outsourced FM), you’re transferring the decision-making to third-party outsiders. When outsourced effectively, this can lead to better efficiency around the workplace and a general improvement of skills within the organisation.

Historically, facility processes have been kept in-house with many businesses choosing to hire their own staff for specific jobs. But, as technology has improved, the ease and efficiency of outsourced FM has become a beneficial option. Especially with the use of a computer-aided facilities management software (CAFM).

Outsourcing FM processes with a CAFM can benefit businesses in a number of different ways. Including:

  • Saving time and money

    Taking staff training and operating costs into consideration, in-house facility management can be an expensive outgoing. Although outsourcing would require payments, these would be considerably lower in comparison.

  • Staying flexible with staff

    Particular facility management processes are only required on a seasonal or cyclical basis, such as building and ground maintenance. So, instead of hiring staff and keeping them around just-in-case, processes such a these can be outsourced.

  • Provides an increase in service quality

    Outsourcing your processes and jobs to an experienced facilities management service provider will guarantee that the job gets done as intended. This experience proves crucial to making sure only the best maintenance staff and engineers are kept on the premises.

Facilities management and asset management software seem to have similar capabilities – which one is best for my business?

As technology and tools continue to develop, the functional gaps between asset management and facilities management software have narrowed. But, though similar in a few aspects, there are still many differences that set the two apart when it comes to day-to-day operations.

Core functions of asset management software

The main function of an asset management system is to track, measure and analyse the complete value that is provided by all assets throughout the company – both tangible and intangible. The typical functions of an asset manager, include:

  • Maximising ROI of assets

  • Improving maintenance efficiency

  • Tracking asset lifecycle from acquisition to disposal

  • To achieve profitability objectives by minimising expenditure

Core functions of facilities management software

Although a focus on assets in crucial for a facility manager, their priority is to improve productivity and efficiency within the workplace. While also handling workplace needs and demands. Typical functions of a facility manager, include:

  • Optimising the work environment

  • To utilise all assets that support the business’s operations

  • Focusing on end-user needs throughout the workplace

  • To effectively manage corporate social responsibility initiatives

What computer-aided facilities management functions can help me control my excessive churn expenses?

What is Churn?

Most facility managers will have experienced and dealt with the relocation of occupants within the workplace; also knows as churn. But, without the use of an effective computer-aided facilities management tool, many FMs are unaware of their exact churn rate and the expenses that come with it.

A building’s churn rate is presented as a percentage to indicate the total amount of employees or occupants that have been moved workspace. For example, if 300 occupants move workstations in an office building that has a total of 1000 people, that building’s churn rate is 30%.

Although businesses may strive for a lower churn rate resulting in fewer bottom-line expenses, there can be some benefits to having a higher churn rate. One advantage is being able to implement the latest workspace trends, such as effective move management through hot-desking.

Currently, the median churn rate for Corporate America organisations is 45%. But some facilities tend to experience percentage rates much higher than this, such as 100% to 200%. On the other hand, there are many facilities that experience low churn rates. Although this may seem ideal, it usually means there are moves taking place that aren’t tracked or FMs aren’t aware of.

Depending on your focus as either a dynamic workplace setting or a more stable business with long-term goals, poor management of your facility’s churn rate can be costly. For instance:

  • You’re unaware if you have a high or low churn rate percentage

  • You are damaging your chances of implementing positive and progressive changes in the workplace

  • You’re unaware of the huge expenses associated with occupants moving from one location to another

What are the costs of churn in a facility?

Whether an employee has relocated due to a companywide restructuring or because of business downsizing, the costs incurred can be huge.

These types of costs can also depend on the different elements and types of churn. For example, box moves (occupants moving to existing workstations in the facility) average a cost of $160 per move. Whereas furniture moves (reconfiguration of existing furniture or the addition of new fixings) average a cost of $729 per move.

One ‘soft cost’ that can damage a business’s bottom-line as a result of churn is downtime. This occurs when an employee has relocated in the premises but is without the necessary tools to continues working. Such as waiting for the right data and network cabling to be operational.

As well as ‘soft costs’, the relocating process will incur expensive ‘hard costs’. Such as:

  • Labour rates

  • Extra materials needed

  • Wall constructions

  • Technician support for cabling

How can CAFM reduce churn expenses?

A computer-aided facilities management tool is packed full of features and functionality to help FMs and executives gain a greater understanding regarding their expenses. This includes identifying how much re-locating employees is costing and understanding the business’s total churn rate percentage.

With the right FM solution, you’ll be able to:

  • Gain a holistic view of all spaces and amenities such as workstations and data cabling outputs

  • Manage and track assets to reduce wait time and easily locate equipment or furniture as they move between workstations

  • Schedule and plan for moves in the building

  • Outsource maintenance tasks to reliable technicians

  • Increase efficiency of move management and space planning through applications such as CAD and BIM

Can services such as BIM and CAD be integrated with CAFM Software?

Moden CAFM software offers many benefits to an FM manager, including allowing the integration of multiple third-party applications. These can be email programs, data storage, fleet management tools, Building Information Modeling (BIM) services and Computer-aided Design (CAD) applications.

Having the option to use third-party tools with a newly installed FM solution can be beneficial in a number of ways, including:

  • Offering more tools for accurate data collection and analytics

  • Saving costs by not disregarding previous tool purchases

  • Being able to keep using tools that are already familiar with employees

  • Keeping a familiar workflow of orders and processes

Two applications that are beneficial to an FM manager are CAD and BIM services. These tools are used frequently throughout the facilities industry and provide greater efficiency for data and maintenance management when used with a CAFM solution.

How do CAD and 3D modelling tools benefit FM managers

Computer-aided Design and 3D modelling tools are used to assist architects and other professionals in the design of buildings and space. These applications provide a variety of imagery and simulations, allowing a large amount of a building’s technical data to be stored.

As well as architects, a CAD system can be a useful tool for an FM manager as well. With access, they’re able to:

  • View premises layout plans

  • Produce scenario modelling

  • See blueprints for occupation designs

  • Track cabling control

  • View floor plans

  • See building and property information for better maintenance control

How do BIM services benefit FM managers?

Contrary to popular belief, knowledge of CAD or other 3D modelling tools isn’t required in order to use BIM. Now a mandatory requirement for public sector projects, Business Information Modelling is a process of using computer models to help design, construct and maintain a building.

By integrating a BIM system with your CAFM tool, FM managers are able to reap benefits such as:

  • Reducing costs at the delivery and operational stages of a building

  • Improving efficiency in communications and work orders throughout departments

  • Accessing asset profiles for each modelling object to gain greater maintenance insight

  • Gain awareness of asset and equipment location

  • Improve the health and safety of occupants with predicted scenarios

  • Being involved in the early stages of space planning