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CAFM vs IWMS: Which Is Right For Me? Your Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents
  1. What Is Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM)?
  2. Who Are CAFM Systems For?
  3. What Are The Key Features/Uses Of CAFM?
  4. What Are The Pros Of Using A CAFM System?
  5. What Are The Cons Of Using A CAFM System?
  6. What Is An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS)?
  7. Who Is An IWMS For?
  8. What Are The Key Features/Uses Of An IWMS?
  9. What Are The Pros Of Using An IWMS?
  10. What Are The Cons Of Using An IWMS?
  11. What Are The Differences Between CAFM And IWMS?
  12. How Much Does CAFM Software Cost?
  13. How Much Does IWMS Software Cost?
  14. How Do I Choose A CAFM Or IWMS?

If you’re new to FM software, grappling with acronyms like CAFM (Computer Aided Facility Management) and IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System) is enough to leave anyone feeling puzzled.  

To make matters even more confusing, both FM software solutions appear similar on the surface, however they each have their own distinct purpose and nuances.  

Not to worry: to help you understand what sets both CAFM and IWMS software apart, SFG20’s technical experts have put together this jargon-free guide which will give you an overview of both platforms, covering key differences alongside pros, cons and costs.  

 

What Is Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM)? 

Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) is a software platform that provides a digital centralised overview of all your important facilities management operations. It automates key functions and allows you to manage a building's assets, tools, processes and occupants within a building, all from one platform.  

From space and asset management to planned preventive maintenance and property lease management, CAFM systems put the power in your hands to schedule maintenance tasks, monitor assets as well as organise data and track work orders.  

Instead of relying on complicated spreadsheets and physical documents prone to getting lost, a CAFM enables you to log, report and monitor data while overseeing the day-to-day running of your facility. 

 

Who Are CAFM Systems For?

CAFM software is primarily used by people within facility management teams and departments, as it enables the management of the workplace and the potential maintenance of building elements.  

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The integration of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software can provide powerful visualisation tools, making it easier for those without an engineering background to understand and interpret data clearly. 

 

Due to its versatility, CAFM software is employed across a diverse range of organisations and industries including those within the government, healthcare, education and retail sectors. 

 

What Are The Key Features/Uses of CAFM? 

 

Space Management 

When combined with CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and BIM (Building Information Modelling) software, CAFM can provide graphical representations of facility layouts, enabling users to track occupancy and optimise space utilisation. CAFM systems can also help to monitor room capacity and movement, allowing you to identify how frequently spaces are being used.  

 

Move Management 

CAFM systems can aid with planning, executing and tracking the moves of equipment, furniture and people from one location to another. 

 

Asset Management 

CAFM software can be utilised to track and maintain assets and equipment, allowing users to schedule maintenance activities and monitor/track their conditions and performance over time.  

 

Room Reservations 

CAFM systems typically include a room reservation module that allows you and your team to easily book and manage meeting rooms and other shared spaces. This feature provides real-time visibility into room availability and occupancy status, preventing double bookings and over-bookings. 

 

Inventory Tracking 

With a CAFM system, you can monitor stock levels and consumption rates of consumable items such as office supplies and cleaning materials. The system can also automate restock requests and track inventory movements and locations, ensuring efficient inventory management. 

 

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Contractor Management 

CAFM systems enable you to oversee and collaborate with external contractors and subcontractors. By maintaining records of contractor certifications, licenses and insurance details, the system helps verify compliance with relevant regulations. 

 

Real Estate Management 

CAFM systems store and maintain accurate records of lease, rent and tenure agreements, along with associated data such as critical release dates, terms, renewal options and costs. You can also configure the system to send automated notifications to alert you of upcoming lease renewals, expirations and other critical information.

 

Maintenance Management 

While not all CAFM systems include maintenance modules, those that do offer valuable features such as scheduling and tracking both preventive and reactive maintenance tasks. They allow you to oversee and manage the complete work order lifecycle from creation to assignment and completion as well as track maintenance histories and performance data to support proactive maintenance strategies. 

 

What Are The Pros Of Using A CAFM System? 

 

Reduced Costs 

CAFM systems provide accurate operational data, enabling quicker, more informed decisions, better resource management and extended asset life, all of which being able to reduce operational costs. If your CAFM system has a maintenance module which can recognise compliance (or statutory) tasks, it can also help you to avoid fines and penalties for safety hazards and equipment failures.  

 

Increased Asset Lifespan 

Proactive management of assets and equipment maximises their lifespan, reducing the need for costly replacements and minimising downtime. 

 

Accurate Data 

CAFM systems are built on real-time data and analytics, capturing and storing various forms of built environment information and serving as a single point of reference. This ensures informed, strategic decision-making alongside useful report generation which can provide actionable insights and allow you to track key performance indicators. 

 

Data Integration 

Advancements in software development have now made it possible for CAFM software to be integrated with other data streams and platforms such as CMMS, IoT sensors, ERP systems, BIM/Digital Twins, CDEs and SFG20’s smart new software solution Facilities-iQ. 

 

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CAFM benefits can extend to staff as they enable you to maintain comfortable room temperatures (when tied into real-time sensors and the BMS), facilitate easy booking of meeting rooms and allow for the quick reporting of maintenance issues. 

 

 

Improved Productivity and Communication 

CAFM systems automate many tasks including maintenance scheduling, inventory management, work order tracking and space optimisation, streamlining facility management processes and saving time.  

CAFM software also provides all stakeholders with access to real-time facility information with alerts and notifications for critical events, and is often accessible from any location and device even in challenging environments such as plant rooms. 

 

What Are The Cons Of Using A CAFM System?

 

Data Security Considerations

As CAFM systems store large amounts of sensitive data, they can become vulnerable to cyber threats if not properly secured. Similarly, CAFM technology can be susceptible to errors if the data is not accurately maintained and kept up to date.   

 

Ongoing Maintenance and Updates 

CAFM software requires regular maintenance, updates and backups which can demand extra time and effort. If you want to adapt the platform to your existing processes, you’ll need to consider the limitations on future system upgrades and when new updates are rolled out, as it can mean your version may become outdated and possibly insecure.  

 

Internal System Integration 

CAFM systems may not seamlessly integrate with other internal business systems like HR and Finance, often requiring manual data entry or exchange. On top of this, some software developers use close protocol coding which limits integration to their own products. 

 

What Is An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS)? 

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An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) is an all-in-one suite of solutions that integrates and consolidates many functionalities found in other FM systems such as CAFM and Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software. 

Encompassing an extensive range of functionalities including real estate management, space planning, asset maintenance, project management and sustainability tracking, IWMS is considered to be the most feature-rich facilities management platform.  

It works by capturing, generating and consolidating data and metrics related to the five vital functional areas of real estate and facilities management, providing an aerial view of all of your organisation’s key operations.

An IWMS combines these 5 key areas: 

  1. Facilities Management 
  2. Real Estate and Properties Management 
  3. Operations and Maintenance Management 
  4. Sustainability and Energy Management 
  5. Capital Project Management
     

Who Is An IWMS For? 

IWMS solutions are suitable for Facilities Services Providers, Real Estate firms, Landlords, Managing Agents and Corporate Occupiers and can be particularly beneficial for businesses with large property portfolios across multiple locations.

Examples of organisations that use IWMS software include commercial office buildings, hospitals and healthcare facilities, large educational campuses, manufacturing facilities and data centres.  

What Are The Key Features/Uses Of An IWMS?

 

Data Integration 

IWMS consolidates data from diverse sources like CAD drawings, maintenance records, lease agreements and sensor data into a unified database, providing a single point of access for valuable insights. 

 

Unified Analytics and Reporting 

The centralised data enables comprehensive reporting and analytics on space utilisation, maintenance needs, energy efficiency and other key aspects of facilities management. 

 

Functional Modules 

An IWMS typically includes several integrated modules, each serving specific organisational requirements. These include:  

  • Space Management 
  • Asset Management 
  • Maintenance Management 
  • Lease Management 

 

What Are The Pros Of Using An IWMS? 

 

All-Inclusive Solution 

IWMS combines all of the top features from other facility management software including CAFM and CMMS into a single platform, providing thorough visibility into your facilities management operations. 

 

Streamlined Data Management 

IWMS acts as a centralised database, consolidating and storing data like floor plans, asset information, maintenance records and occupancy data. 

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Workflow and Automation 

IWMS streamlines processes for managing tasks, approvals and notifications, helping to reduce manual effort while saving time and improving productivity. 

 

Analytics and Reporting 

IWMS offers comprehensive reporting and analytics, providing insights into workplace performance, resource utilisation and cost-saving opportunities. 

 

Remote Access 

IWMS is usually available on desktop and mobile, enabling remote access and collaboration.  

 

Improved Communication 

IWMS serves as a communication hub, allowing employees to submit service requests, report issues and easily access information from one place. 

 

Enhanced Employee Experience 

IWMS can free up time by automating repetitive tasks such as manual data entry alongside helping to design and manage flexible work arrangements which can all lead to improved employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity.  

 

What Are The Cons Of Using An IWMS? 

 

Cost 

Due to its full-scale scope of features, implementing an IWMS can be costly, especially for organisations with complex needs. 

 

Customisation Challenges 

Customised IWMS software can take longer to set up and may make future upgrades more difficult and costly. Moreover, undoing changes can also be challenging. 

 

Cybersecurity and Data Privacy 

As IWMS handles sensitive workplace data, it requires robust cybersecurity measures and compliance with relevant data privacy regulations. 

 

What Are The Differences Between CAFM and IWMS? 

In short, CAFM focuses primarily on space and asset management, while an IWMS offers a broader scope of capabilities focusing on the 5 core areas of Facilities Management, connecting other core FM software features into one all-inclusive system.  


Criteria  CAFM IWMS
Purpose Focuses on the overall physical space, assets, equipment and occupancy within facilities Manages all aspects related to the workplace including facilities, real estate and workplace resources
Features
  • Scheduling maintenance 
  • Managing room bookings 
  • Space planning/analysis 
  • Asset lifecycle tracking/monitoring  
  • Real Estate management 
  • Facilities Management (Hard and Soft FM)
  • Real Estate and Properties Management 
  • Operations and Maintenance Management 
  • Sustainability and Energy Management  
  • Capital Project Management 
Suitability
  • Facility Management teams and departments 

  • Facilities Services Providers 
  • Real Estate services firms 
  • Landlords 
  • Managing Agents 
  • Corporate Occupiers 
Data Utilisation Centralises facility management data related to space, assets and maintenance 

Unifies data across the 5 core functional areas of facilities management  

Benefits/Pros
  • Extended asset life 
  • Reduced operational costs 
  • Boosted productivity and time management 
  • Improved communication and easy data access 
  • Integration with CAD and Building Information Modelling (BIM) 
  • Provides an all-in-one solution, integrating many features found in CAFM and CMMS  
  • Offers a holistic view of asset, facility and real estate data  
  • Streamlined data management, workflow and automation 
  • Advanced reporting and analytics 
  • Enhanced integration with Building Management Systems (BMS), Energy Management Software (EMS), workplace management tools, sensors and Building Information Modelling (BIM) 
Limitations/Cons
  • Data security considerations
  • Requires ongoing maintenance and updates to keep running properly
  • Requires you to consider how the system can be upgraded in the future and when new updates are rolled out
  • May not integrate seamlessly with other internal business systems such as HR and Finance 
  • Higher cost
  • Customised IWMS software can take longer to set up and may make future upgrades more difficult and costly 
  • Due to the vast amount of sensitive information that they hold, IWMS software requires robust cybersecurity measures 

How Much Does CAFM Software Cost? 

The cost of CAFM software can vary significantly depending on several factors. For basic systems with less functionality, prices can start from a few hundred pounds per month while more comprehensive solutions can cost thousands of pounds and may require a one-time upfront fee.  

 

How Much Does IWMS Software Cost? 

There is no fixed figure for the cost of IWMS as it’s largely dependent on your organisation’s individual needs, such as the number of licenses you require and the support packages that you choose.  

 

How Do I Choose A CAFM Or IWMS? 

 

Understand Your Needs 

Assess your organisation's current and future needs from a CAFM or IWMS, aligning it with your business goals. Try to think about what your organisation needs and how the system could grow with the business.

 

Evaluate Features 

Determine which features are essential and consider if you need more advanced capabilities like GIS data, 3D BIM models or integration with other systems. 

 

Assess Suitability 

CAFM is best suited for small to medium-sized organisations while IWMS is aimed at more larger-scale organisations requiring comprehensive workplace management.  

The more complex the system, the greater the training requirement. So, you may want to also consider how tech-savvy your workforce is as this can be one of the biggest barriers to full adoption. 

 

Consider Integration 

Evaluate if the CAFM or IWMS integrates with external applications that you use regularly, and ensure it can integrate with other internal business systems like HR and Finance to avoid time-consuming manual data entry. 

 

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Evaluate Costs

Understand the upfront and ongoing costs, including hardware, IT resources and annual maintenance fees. You may also want to consider how a cloud-based solution can provide cost savings compared to an on-premise system. 

 

Prioritise Security and Privacy 

Verify that the chosen system meets your data security and privacy requirements as well as compliance with relevant regulations for handling sensitive workplace data. 

 

Request Demos and Trials 

Ask for a demo of the CAFM or IWMS using your own data to better understand its benefits and suitability. If possible, get the vendor to demonstrate how it would work within your organisation. 

 

Do You Need An IWMS, CAFM or CMMS?  

You now know that a CAFM can be used for space and asset management while an IWMS solution provides a complete overview of real estate and facilities management.  

Of course, who you choose will be contingent on your organisation’s individual requirements, however it may be the case that you need a smaller solution such as a CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System) instead.  

At SFG20, we want to share our in-depth industry knowledge with you to help you make an informed decision, so if you’re still unsure, we recommend reading our CMMS guide which will allow you to compare the three and make the best choice for you and your organisation. 

 

 

 

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