Before making a decision that will affect a building or campus well into the future, facility management professionals need to understand what types of building management software are at their disposal. Facility management software (FMS) can help improve a property’s appeal, condition, performance, and earning potential.
FMS is the umbrella term for several related software types and their accompanying hardware. Here’s a look at the five types of FMS in use today and an explanation of how they increase cost savings as well as improve management responsiveness, building comfort and functionality, company productivity, and resource efficiency.
1. Computerized maintenance management systems
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is one of the more basic types of facility management software, but it still provides substantial functionality and time savings.
A CMMS will triage and prioritize service tickets, track maintenance orders, and organize and act on data gathered by assets and infrastructure. These systems also study financial standings, perform preventive maintenance, and keep documentation and databases ordered and accessible.
Those most likely to use a CMMS include maintenance managers, technicians, custodians, and others in charge of keeping a facility running. These systems are usually cloud-based for mobility’s sake. The data they gather can be entered manually or remotely by sensors and other devices.
2. Facility management software
Facility management software (FMS) is a popular blanket term referenced by many users, including facility managers who use this phrase to describe a particular kind of software. Whereas a CMMS is used almost exclusively to organize upkeep data and keep work tickets organized, FMS is more comprehensive.
A building’s CMMS could function entirely without outside hardware or additional software — it may simply be a digital dashboard to keep maintenance and custodial tasks properly organized, prioritized, and assigned. FMS, however, goes further by adding several types of management and analytical capabilities, including:
- Location-based asset tracking
- Predictive rather than scheduled maintenance
- Building occupancy analysis
- Energy consumption tracking and analysis for savings.
A true FMS will likely be paired with a comprehensive infrastructure platform powered by the Internet of Things (IoT). This infrastructure is becoming more sophisticated, helping facility managers stay more responsive concerning compliance and make longer-term building planning decisions. It also helps reduce deferred and scheduled maintenance in favor of leaner, more proactive upkeep based on real-time machine or property conditions.
Those who need a compelling reason to invest in facility management software should consider compliance and data security. The Cisco/Cybersecurity Ventures 2022 Cybersecurity Almanac predicted that cybercrime will hit a global cost of US$10.5 trillion by 2025. FMS provides data-organization tools and the means to secure information behind robust cyber defenses.
Cybersecurity is seen as a moral imperative among building owners, who face ever-higher expectations from regulators and the public due to environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.
3. Computer-aided facility management software
Computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software is similar to CMMS. It supports higher-order decision-making tasks involving the anticipating, planning, assigning, and success measurement of maintenance and custodial tasks. However, it also incorporates customer-centric functionality and space allocation functions.
Facility managers can use CAFM software technologies such as cameras and machine vision to study hospitality environments and workspaces as well as building information systems (BIM). The benefits of CAFM include:
- The ability to engage in long-term building planning
- Access to applications that support land and estate management
- Access to behavioral-science analysis
- Support for engineering and architectural tasks
- The ability to track equipment’s life cycle for analysis of asset longevity.
Think of CAFM platforms as comprehensive products that fold in the best features of computer-aided design (CAD), automated facility management, database organization, enterprise planning software, and predictive maintenance platforms. CAFM software further enhances the benefits provided by CMMS and FMS by closing the loop between C-suite or business-planning functions and the practical data gathered at the “edge” of the organization — that is, its buildings, rooms, facilities, and systems.
CAFM software makes practical, responsive, responsible, and data-driven enterprise planning easier. This ease is helpful when property owners and managers find themselves without a clear plan forward in post-pandemic life.
4. Integrated workplace management systems
Although there are many similarities between FMS and integrated workplace management systems (IWMS), keep in mind that the latter functions more as a database or data warehouse. An IWMS supports higher-order and longer-term planning, whereas FMS focuses on the daily management of the built environment.
Both systems support real-estate planning, lease management, and space allocation, among other asset-tracking and management tasks. However, IWMS products are more useful for improving facility managers’ understanding of long-term issues in their industry rather than helping them closely monitor day-to-day assets or tasks.
The personnel most likely to use and benefit from an IWMS investment are building owners, construction managers, real-estate planners, and resource conservation specialists. The latter is especially important for building owners and managers to consider. Residents and investors want green and sustainable buildings to call home or round out their portfolios. An IWMS could be the key to help them better understand and reduce their facility’s energy and water consumption.
5. Intelligent maintenance management platforms
Even someone that finds software terms and capabilities largely interchangeable will find this last category worthy of distinction. Many technologists and facility managers see intelligent maintenance management platforms (IMMP) as the future of effective and conscientious management.
Productive facility management requires data, but it’s not always clear how to act on the captured data. The previous four facility management software technologies help build a robust IT infrastructure platform. IMMP takes things further by incorporating machine learning and the ability for various assets to communicate with one another. These assets might include:
- HVAC and climate control
- Security systems
- Stationary and mobile equipment
- Physical inventory.
An IMMP receives data and analyzes it intelligently to predict the facility’s future, as well as its needs or available resources. It leverages real-time data, machine learning, and advanced analysis to remove human judgment, questionable attention spans, and potential errors from the tasks essential to running a facility harmoniously.
An IMMP not only realizes the vast potential of remote sensing for property management, it also places robust machine-learning models in charge of overseeing it. This leaves human employees — sometimes hard to find these days — freer to lend their talents to other areas of the business.
The future of facility management software
The various types of facility management software have been some of the most consequential gifts of technology and are part of what’s known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. Industry and maintenance 4.0 in the built environment provide accessibility, automation, analysis, real-time data-gathering, and quick interventions to each building system.
The future of these technologies will offer even more advanced opportunities to capitalize on remote sensing, IoT and cloud technologies. For example, machine vision systems are already gathering momentum to streamline or even automate home and building inspections.
The images and other data gathered by building information modeling (BIM) systems make it easy to create full digital representation structures. These digital twins capitalize on the potential of FMS even further by creating working simulations of a building’s traffic and occupancy patterns, its resource and energy usage over time, and each of its maintenance and climate-control systems.
A digital twin of a building or campus helps owners and management save money by finding inefficiencies and opportunities to fine-tune performance. Structures with high turnover or continuous commissioning or retrofitting for various clients greatly benefit from investments in FMS, IMMP, and digital twins.
Setting software goals
Like any technology, getting the most out of FMS investments means setting specific, measurable, and relevant goals. The various types of building management software can help your teams:
- Improve communication between stakeholders
- Study and reduced energy use within the building
- Improve air quality and identify sources of pollutants
- Safeguard resident health
- Understand long-term occupancy trends
- Engage in enterprise planning and real-estate strategies
- Find the ideal layout or configuration for renovations or reconfigurations
- Design building systems with real-time condition monitoring
- Automate the creation of maintenance tickets to dispatch personnel more quickly
- Improve the general safety of buildings for staff and occupants
- Make strides toward improved sustainability and zero-emissions status.
Businesses must be specific when naming goals. FMS, like all technology, is a problem-solving tool that’s most useful when users fully realize their intentions.