Among the many new forms of enterprise software making their way onto markets, Computer Aided Facilities Management or CAFM is one of the most mysterious, and one of the most complex. For some executives, it’s confusing to try to figure out what CAFM is and what it does. CAFM also goes by the general term “facilities management” or FM, and is sometimes used interchangeably with the term CMMS, which stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System.
So what does CAFM do for businesses?
On the most general level, Computer Aided Facilities Management systems are designed to help plan everything about a building or facility, and every process that goes on inside of it. It can be helpful to think of Computer Aided Facilities Management as a comprehensive commercial facility or building management tool, with many different facets and functions.
Physical Building Administration
One of the most popular and most impressive core systems of a Computer Aided Facilities Management system is its resources for handling the actual infrastructure inside the building. For example, many CAFM systems will be linked to HVAC equipment, lights and other infrastructure within the building. Some of these will allow for remote management, where administrators can set thermostats or turn window and door locks on and off remotely.
Although these are some of the most popular features of these systems, many descriptions of the systems by vendors don’t specifically point out how these types of functionality can help a company. Too often, they hide these essential features in jargon like “property management and energy consumption features,” instead of spelling out that CAFM systems actually help with day-to-day planning in these real and practical ways. But when customers figure out that CAFM systems can come with this type of functionality, it’s often adopted with enthusiasm for its labor-saving and time-saving potential.
Floor Plans and Space Utilization
Many other parts of CAFM tools are designed to help with space use and resource allocation.
Some of these will affect where equipment is placed in a facility. Other aspects will look at how to partition rooms, or how to lay out commercial or industrial processes within a facility. Some of these involve workforce management.
Generally, the administrators will tag a space for a particular use, and used the CAFM to orchestrate that use in detail.
Leasing and Property Maintenance
Other aspects of Computer Aided Facilities Management will look at property management, including leasing, to optimize businesses use of commercial real estate. Other specific segments of CAFM tools will promote comprehensive maintenance, for example, engaging preventative maintenance and routine operational maintenance goals to optimize asset management. This is where Computer Aided Facilities Management gets used in conjunction with CMMS, as CMMS systems are generally built for the evaluation of maintenance needs.
Some features of CAFM systems will help decision makers to consider long-term needs, for example, planning for capital improvements.
The idea is that since the CAFM platform covers not only the building but everything in it, administrators can use it as a roadmap for all kinds of asset management and predictive planning that can help save money, and make whatever happens in a facility happen more efficiently.
Computer Aided Facilities Management is used in a wide range of industries for many different purposes. Some of the specific tools and functionality will depend on what industry the client is working in, and what kinds of equipment are in the facility. Companies in many different fields are using Computer Aided Facilities Management to really effectively control the overall use of a business facility and to get serious about better asset management.