FM Software Systems Explained

By Phil Wales  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Facilities Software Takes a Strategic Role in FMPt. 2: Innovations in FM SoftwarePt. 3: This Page

In order to develop a common understanding of the terms batted around whenever FM technology is discussed, here are six.

CAFM — Computer-Aided Facility Management first came on the scene in the mid-to-late 1980s. The goal was automating and consolidating the maintenance of facilities management information. CAFM technology tracks information about projects, space use and characteristics, leases, assets, and occupants of the space. While this technology has delivered true benefits, it has been used primarily by facility management staff as a departmental tool.

IWMS — An Integrated Workplace Management System, by contrast with CAFM, is an enterprise platform that supports not only the tactical tools found in CAFM solutions, but also strategic activities around the planning, management, and utilization, and real property assets. A distinguishing factor for IWMS is the focus on business process management as a core component of the technical solution.

ILM - Infrastructure Life-cycle Management is a relatively new term, one that is often used interchangeably with IWMS. In its purest definition it differs from IWMS in that its focus is on cross-functional activities (such as HR, real estate, IT and corporate finance) around the planning, construction, and commercialization of real properties. But there is little difference between products labeled as ILM and those called IWMS.

BIM - Building Information Modeling is sometimes referred to as a 4-D drawing since it is a data-rich digital representation that includes not only the architectural and engineering documents but also the physical and functional characteristics of design components. Its purpose is to make the design information explicit, so that the design intent can be understood and evaluated.

"The Cloud" and SaaS - Software as a Service (SaaS) is not a unique facilities management product. Rather, it is software that is available on a subscription or "pay-as-you-go" basis. (SaaS is sometime referred to as "software on demand.") Rather than install software on site, customers access the application over the Internet. SaaS is becoming more common in the facilities world. Cloud Computing is not literally the same as SaaS, but from the point of view of facility management technology, it is close enough. The term "cloud" is used as a metaphor for the Internet.

Phil Wales ( is president and CEO of eBusiness Strategies, a business process and technology consulting firm based in Houston. Wales has a 30-plus year career in real estate and workplace management focusing on aligning business processes with technology.

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  posted on 6/23/2010   Article Use Policy

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