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CMMS vs CAFM: Which Is Best For Me? Your Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents
  1. What Is CMMS?
  2. Who Are CMMS Systems For?
  3. CMMS Features/Uses
  4. How Accurate Is CMMS?
  5. What Are The Pros Of CMMS?
  6. What Are The Cons Of CMMS?
  7. What Is A CAFM System?
  8. Who Are CAFM Systems For?
  9. CAFM Features/Uses
  10. What Are The Pros Of A CAFM System?
  11. What Are The Cons Of A CAFM System?
  12. What Are The Differences Between CMMS and CAFM?
  13. On-Premise vs Cloud-Based CMMS/CAFM
  14. How Much Do CMMS Systems Cost?
  15. How Much Does CAFM Software Cost?
  16. Is It A Legal Requirement To Use A CMMS Or CAFM System?
  17. Do I Need To Use Both A CMMS And CAFM?
  18. How Do I Choose A CMMS or CAFM System?
The greater the number of assets you have to maintain, the harder it can be to manage without the assistance of specialist software systems.  
 

SFG20 has been the industry standard for building maintenance since 1990, meaning we're equipped with all the technical know-how you could ever want on FM including software solutions such as CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System) and CAFM (Computer Aided Facility Management).

In this article, we’ll be clearing up your confusion, helping you understand the differences between CAFM and CMMS as well as pros and cons, empowering you to decide which software is best for you and your business. 

 

What Is CMMS? 

CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management Software) is a software tool purely designed for maintenance management of assets and equipment. 

With this type of maintenance operation software, you can easily keep a close eye on work orders as well as the inventory and performance of essential equipment, helping to maintain efficient maintenance practices while prolonging the lifespan of assets and reducing downtime. 

 

Who are CMMS systems for?

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CMMS systems are used by engineering, maintenance managers and maintenance technicians. They provide all of the necessary tools and functionality to plan, schedule, track and analyse maintenance activities. 

CMMS is used by a broad range of business across different industries such as manufacturing, energy, healthcare, education, and government organisations. It’s also widely used in the retail, construction, property management, hospitality, recreation and transportation industries.

 

CMMS Features/Uses 

  • Asset Management 

CMMS systems keep an inventory of all your assets where you can track the location and status of equipment as well as manage lifecycles and schedule in maintenance.  

  • Work Order Management 

CMMS systems allow anyone within your facility to easily submit online maintenance requests. Maintenance technicians can then quickly create these into work orders which can be scheduled in and tracked.  

  • Preventative and Predictive Maintenance

CMMS makes it simple to schedule in regular preventative and predictive maintenance and analyse repair history to find out which equipment needs more attention.  

  • Reporting  

CMMs records maintenance history and generates reports on activities, inventory and assets to provide insights and accountability.  

 

How Accurate Is CMMS? 

Computerised Maintenance Management Software is highly accurate so long as users input correct data, avoid delays in data entry and provide regular software training for staff members.  

 During the procurement of any new platform, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the data that is being held.  

 Before moving data sets, you’ll want to undertake regular data cleansing and asset validation exercises to ensure that you have captured all of your current assets. 

 

What Are The Pros Of CMMS? 

  • Smoother Processes

CMMS systems allow you to effectively schedule maintenance tasks as well as simplify managing work requests and orders.  

  • Extends Asset Lifespans

With useful asset data on hand, CMMS provides opportunities to improve the performance of critical equipment, reducing downtime and increasing the lifespan of assets.  

  • Cuts Costs

CMMS automates many processes, helping to streamline workflows and preventative maintenance which in turn can reduce costs.  

  • Improves Health and Safety

CMMS can help to enhance workplace safety with timely reports and safety compliance.  

 

What Are The Cons of CMMS?  

  • Time-consuming

The procurement process for a CMMS can require a lot of time and resources for successful implementation. An upfront investment in resources should give you a ROI (Return On Investment) within a short amount of time but like with all software changes, it needs to be actively managed.  

  • Staff Training 

Team members will likely need thorough training to fully utilise all of the features of CMMS. Underinvestment in training is a common failure in many software programme rollouts, so you’ll need to invest in staff training time to get buy-in from everyone involved.   

  • Data Accuracy

Inaccurate or incomplete data input can lead to errors in maintenance scheduling and asset management. As mentioned earlier, asset validation and data cleansing is required before moving data sets. It’s also important to be mindful of the risk of data corruption when moving large data sets – this can be caused by miscoding or failure of the new system to read the code properly. 

  

What Is A CAFM System? 

CAFM (Computer-Aided Facility Management) software visually digitises and centralises all of the important physical aspects of facility management into one place, enabling the safe and efficient management of key assets, tools, processes and occupants within a building.  

 From asset and space management to property lease management and planned preventative maintenance, CAFM systems give FMs the power to monitor assets, schedule maintenance tasks as well as track work orders and organise data. 

 

Who Are CAFM Systems For? 

CAFMs are geared towards organisations of all sizes who want to manage their facilities in a holistic, visual way.  

Computer-Aided Facility Management systems are versatile enough for a broad range of industries and organisations including those within the healthcare, government, education and retail sectors. It can be especially useful for companies with multiple facilities or large warehouses and inventories.  

Primarily used by individuals within facility management teams and departments, CAFM allows both the management of the workplace and potentially the maintenance of building elements. The use of visualisation tools through the integration of CAD (Computer-aided Design) software can also help those from a non-engineering background understand data more clearly. 

 

CAFM Features/Uses 

  • Space Management 

Combined with CAD (Computer-aided Design) and BIM (Building Information Modelling) software, CAFM software provides graphical representations of facility layouts, tracks occupancy and optimises space utilisation. CAFM systems can also help you to manage and book room reservations for meetings, preventing double-bookings. 

  • Occupancy Tracking 

CAFMs help with controlling visitor access by monitoring room capacity and movement.  Person using touchscreen technology

  • Move Management

CAFM systems can help you plan, execute and track moves of equipment, furniture and people from one location to another. 

  • Asset Management 

CAFMs can be used to track and maintain assets and equipment, allowing you to schedule maintenance activities and track their usage.  

  • Maintenance Management 

Some but not all CAFMs also offer maintenance modules which typically provide features such as scheduling and tracking preventative and reactive maintenance tasks, tracking asset information, managing work orders and more.  

  • Lease Management 

CAFMs can simplify lease administration by tracking terms, renewals, costs and documents.  

 

What Are The Pros Of A CAFM system? 

  • Reduced Costs

Offering accurate operational data, CAFM systems can help you make quicker, more informed decisions, improve resource management and extend asset life which can reduce operational costs. If your chosen CAFM system has a maintenance module which recognises compliance tasks, it can even help you avoid fines and penalties from equipment failures or safety hazards.  

  • Accurate Data

CAFM systems provide a platform to capture and hold many different forms of built environment data, and if used correctly, it can become the single point of reference. This allows for timely and accurate decision making, report production as well improved engagement and communication with other platform users and stakeholders.  

  • Data Integration

Software developers have made it possible for CAFM software to be integrated with other built-environment data streams/platforms such as CMMS, IoT sensors, ERP systems, BIM/Digital Twins and CDEs. 

  • Flexibility

CAFM platforms can be accessed by multiple stakeholders from anywhere and on any device. They're even designed to cope with the deepest, darkest plant rooms where the network can’t be reached. This reduces the need for paper-based records and allows direct data entry to the system from trade staff.  

 

What Are The Cons Of A CAFM System?  

  • Complexity

CAFM systems have a wider set of capabilities than CMMS and with that comes greater complexities. This can often mean that it’ll take a longer time to implement and train staff before your organisation achieves its full operational capability. 

  • Higher Upfront Costs

Due to its extent of features, getting a CAFM system set up and running can be pricier than a CMMS, so you’ll need to ensure that it’s within your building maintenance budget. The price will not only include the capital cost of procurement, but also any operational costs that come with training and managing the change.  

  • Adaptability

While CAFM systems can bring more efficiency to your organisation, it may require new processes to be adopted to see the benefits. If you want to adapt the platform to your existing processes, always consider the limitations on how the system can be upgraded in the future and when new updates are rolled out. It can mean that your version can become outdated and possibly insecure very quickly. 

  • Internal System Integration

CAFMs may not be able to integrate seamlessly with other internal business systems such as HR and Finance and may require manual data entry or data exchange. Software Developers may also choose to protect their market share by using close protocol coding, meaning only their own products can be integrated together.  

 

What Are The Differences Between CMMS And CAFM? 

To recap, CMMS is more focused on just maintenance management, whereas CAFM software is focused on facilities management, however some CAFMs may also include a maintenance module within it. Below, you’ll find how CAFM systems and CMMS differ in greater detail. 

Criteria  

CMMS 

CAFM 

Purpose 

Focuses on managing maintenance activities and equipment in greater detail 

Focuses on the overall physical space, assets, equipment and occupancy within facilities   

Features 

Automates work order management, inventory management and preventative maintenance tasks 

Automates space planning and asset tracking 

Suitability 

Maintenance managers and maintenance technicians 

Facility management teams and departments 

Data Utilisation 

Maintenance activities and equipment data 

Facility and asset-related data

Benefits/Pros 

  • Manages work orders and maintenance 
  • Prolongs asset lifespan and reduces downtime  
  • Central view of all building processes 
  • Automates work order execution 
  • Uncovers cost-saving opportunities

Limitations/Cons

  • Time-consuming to implement and requires staff training
  • Risk of errors in maintenance scheduling and asset management if data is not inputted correctly 
  • May take longer to implement and require more train staff training than a CMMS
  • Higher upfront costs
  • 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 

On-Premise vs Cloud-Based CMMS/CAFM 

The two common types of CMMS and CAFM software include web-based (also known as cloud-based) and on-premise CMMS.  

With web-based CMMS or CAFM software, your database is hosted on the vendor’s server and can be accessed via the internet, while the on-premise versions are installed and run on your company’s server via your internal network.  

With a hosted solution, you’ll get more direct support from the vendor, and updates and patches are usually provided as part of their service. If security and control is more of a priority for you, then an on-premises system may be preferable.  

If you choose to move to a different vendor who owns the data, you may want to consider how easy/costly it will be to move vendors. 

 

How Much Do CMMS Systems Cost? 

Generally speaking, the cost of a CMMS is less expensive than CAFM software due to its smaller scope of features.  

CMMS pricing can vary based on the pricing model, deployment model, the company size and needs as well as any additional costs (i.e. set-up fees). Some basic CMMS plans can start at under £50 a month, while more premium plans can cost hundreds per month. Some CMMS systems also offer one-time perpetual licensing fees which can range in the thousands.  

On-premise CMMS requires more upfront investment and maintenance, while cloud-based CMMS has lower initial costs and is maintained by the provider.   

 

How Much Does CAFM Software Cost? 

The cost of CAFM software can range from hundreds of pounds per month for basic systems to thousands of pounds for more comprehensive solutions, with the latter usually being available in the form of a one-time fee.  

CAFM pricing can differ depending on factors such as the number of sites, modules required and whether the platform is on-premise or cloud based. 

 

Is It A Legal Requirement To Use A CMMS Or CAFM System? 

While they’re not legally mandated, CAFM and CMMS are both invaluable tools in helping organisations stay compliant through safety checks, improved maintenance planning, asset management and more. In the event that your building has an accident/incident, CAFM software or a CMMS can prove extremely useful in providing evidence that compliance was being actively maintained and demonstrated through record management. 

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Do I Need To Use Both A CMMS And CAFM? 

Whether you need both a CAFM system and CMMS will depend on the individual needs and requirements of your organisation and its facilities. If you’re a larger organisation, you may want to consider implementing them both for further control and insight into your facility’s operations. 

 

How Do I Choose A CMMS OR CAFM System?  

Before finding a CAFM system or CMMS that suits your organisation’s needs, you may want to consider the below points.  

  • Understand Your Needs

Try to think about what your organisation needs from a CAFM system or CMMS, and how it could grow in line with the goals of the business.  

  • Try Before You Buy

Ask for a demo of the CAFM system or CMMS to ensure that it will work well within your organisation. If possible, get the vendor to use your own data for the demo so that you can better understand the benefits of the system. 

  • Check Security And Privacy

Verify that your chosen system will keep your data secure and meet your privacy needs.  

  • Explore Different Options

Look at different vendors to find out which one fits your industry and has the right features, support and price that works for you.  

  • Consider Integrations

Does your CAFM or CMMS integrate with external applications like SFG20, which automatically creates compliant maintenance schedules for you?    

 

Who Will You Choose: CAFM or CMMS?

With all of the above information in mind, you should now have a clearer understanding of how CAFM and CMMS differ from one another.  

At SFG20, it’s our goal to educate maintenance professionals like yourself on how to achieve facilities excellence and guide you to make the best choice for you and your business.  

To see all of the trusted CAFM and CMMS systems that can be integrated with SFG20, head on over to our Digital Partner page which we update regularly.  

 

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