Of the many assets every business owns — from servers to vehicles to heavy machinery — one asset stands as the most important: the facility. The facility, after all, is where all of your operations happen. Therefore, it needs to be well taken care of to keep everything running smoothly. In order to ensure that this happens, businesses turn to facility management software.
You may have heard facility management software by one of many other names. It’s also commonly called computer-aided facility management software, or the shorter versions of CAFM software and FM software. No matter what you call it, however, facility management software is a type of CMMS and EAM that helps businesses organize repairs and preventive maintenance.
They can be used by smaller businesses with a single facility, or by larger ones that manage several facilities. Some of the most common features include work order management, project management, scheduling of asset management and analytics.
If you’re looking to adopt facility management software or are looking to switch vendors, you have a lot to think about. There are plenty of options when it comes to the type of vendor you choose, but how do you know which options are right for you? To help you out, we went over some of the different facility management software options that are out there:
The software deployment model is one of the biggest decisions any software buyer has to make. The differences between an on-premise and a cloud-based solution (aka a web-based solution) are stark. Everything from the pricing model to the integration capabilities varies between the two.
First off, what differentiates an on-premise software from a cloud-based one? The main distinction between the two is where the software is hosted. On-premise is installed on a company’s servers, so they own, host and manage everything for the software following implementation. Cloud-based software, on the other hand, is hosted online (hence the names cloud-based and web-based software). This means that the vendor hosts and manages the software on their own servers, while providing access to you through the internet.
By nature of being deployed through the internet, cloud-based software has one distinct advantage: mobile apps. On-premise solutions aren’t very compatible with mobile apps, since all the data is hosted locally. But when the data flows through the internet, as it does with a cloud-based solution, apps are much easier to add on. In the case of facility management software, mobile apps are an especially useful asset. They can be used by facility managers and others who travel and inspect multiple facilities, able to work with the system on the go.
Because of the logistics of on-premise and cloud-based software, two separate pricing models are used. On-premise solutions usually follow a licensing model, which is a large upfront fee for owning the software. There’s also commonly an installation/implementation cost as well, which covers the installation of the software onto your servers. The large upfront fee is charged because the users of an on-premise software keep it forever. After you’ve paid for the license and installation, it’s yours.
Cloud-based software, however, follows a subscription model. This involves an ongoing annual or monthly fee for using the software. Cloud-based systems have a much lower upfront cost, and usually don’t require an installation/implementation fee since they’re hosted online.
So what should you give careful consideration to when deciding between facility management software deployments? In addition to the logistics of installation and pricing, integration and updates provide key differences.
On-premise software, since they’re installed on your servers, tend to be tougher to integrate with other software. If your company has a lot of other systems that you’d like to integrate with your facility management software, you might want to look at a cloud-based solution that’s easier to integrate.
Updates are another key advantage of cloud-based software. Since you pay an ongoing fee, vendors provide access to updates as soon as they’re available. And since the system is hosted by the vendor, you don’t need to install anything for the update — it’s just there waiting for you the next time you log in.
Updating on-premise solutions is trickier. You don’t get free updates because you pay to own a certain version of the software. Therefore, you don’t have to pay monthly fees, but you also don’t get the benefit of new features from newer versions. For example, a vendor may develop a more streamlined work order management module a year after you implement, but you’ll only be able to access it with a cloud-based solution. However, you can add on updates and upgrades like these to an on-premise software for an additional fee.
Lastly, the total cost of ownership (TCO) plays a major factor in a deployment decision. Because of the disparity between upfront costs, many people assume that cloud-based software is the cheaper option. Depending on how long you use the system, however, that may not be the case. After a certain point, the TCO of an on-premise solution becomes lower because you’re not required to continue paying user fees on a monthly or annual basis.
After deciding on how your facility management software will be deployed, you have to choose which development model you want. The most common is a proprietary solution, i.e. one that’s managed by a vendor. Your other option is an open-source software, where you can customize and manage the source code.
A proprietary solution keeps their source code… well… proprietary, so nobody can copy it. This protects the code, which in turn protects the vendor’s investment. On the other hand, open-source software is developed with the purpose of sharing the source code so that a community of developers can add to it, creating a more innovative system.
So what does this all mean? The ramifications of the development model can be found in the updates, support and costs of each. Let’s start with the updates. Because open-source software generally have a community of developers working on them, updates and upgrades occur frequently. A wide variety of developers with an even wider variety of ideas and abilities opens it up to constant innovation, which is great for companies that want to be on the cutting edge.
Proprietary software vendors still upgrade their systems; it just generally takes more time. However, these upgrades are usually implemented with fewer issues. The trade-off for the speed of innovation in open-source software is that new additions aren’t reviewed as carefully as their proprietary counterparts. This means that bugs and performance issues are more prevalent in open-source than in proprietary software.
In addition, proprietary vendors generally offer free and speedy support. Whenever you have an issue, you just have to submit a support ticket or call the vendor’s customer service and they’ll fix your problem. Open-source software generally doesn’t have a dedicated support team, so you have to either ask the community for help, have one of your in-house developers fix the issue or simply wait for a new version to come out that fixes the problem.
All of this is related to the last difference between proprietary and open-source software: cost. Open-source software generally doesn’t cost much, if anything, which makes them popular with small businesses. The lack of expense is due to the fact that a community of developers work on it, rather than an existing company that needs to pay overhead costs. And because there isn’t a customer support team, there’s even fewer expenses to try to make up for.
Proprietary vendors offer fully-managed software with a dedicated support team. Naturally, this results in more overhead costs, so they need to charge more to compensate. Most companies believe this is worth it, however, as proprietary software remains the more popular option. Most companies simply believe that the extra cost is worth it for a system that’s been heavily tested for usability and includes responsive support.
After making your deployment and development model decisions, your last and most important choice is which specific vendor you should choose. This is the software that’ll become central to all of your facility maintenance, so it’s not a decision you should rush. Make sure you take into consideration your business’ specific needs and wants while evaluating vendors. To help kickstart your search, here are four of the top facility management software solutions:
The eMaint system is a cloud-based facility management software that’s easy to use and customize. Users can configure their own layouts, fields, tables, workflows and dashboards. One of the most useful features of eMaint is the ability to track priority items. You can use this feature to “star” important work orders, requests, assets, parts, etc. so you can keep up to date on those important items. This is hugely beneficial to companies that need to improve their work order management, asset management and inventory management.
Another cloud-based solution, Hippo CMMS’s facility management software is one of the best at helping its users learn the software. Not only does Hippo provide an intuitive interface, but it also provides free access to unlimited training within the first six months of signing up. Similarly to eMaint, you can also customize your various dashboards. Drawings of your site maps and floor plans also provide facility managers with an easily accessible overview of their facilities.
MicroMain’s facility management software is one of the most versatile systems out there. It’s offered both on-premise and as a cloud-based solution, so MicroMain can provide whichever deployment is right for you. Additionally, the system has specialized capabilities for various types of buildings. Some of the more prominent building management features they list include hospital facility management, education facility management and government/public sector facility management.
Of the many open-source facility management software options out there, openMAINT is the best. Like its proprietary counterparts, the system provides a plethora of features that aid in asset management, preventive maintenance and inventory management. Customizable dashboards and reports are also available for use. One of the more unique components is support for asset georeference, which includes 2D vector plants and 3D building designs. Plus, as an open-source software, it’s free to use.