By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
The facilities management dictionary is loaded with acronyms. For anyone just stepping into a facilities manager role, it can be really confusing. That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide to answer one of the most reasonable questions of any new facility manager: What’s the difference between IWMS, CMMS, CAFM and EAM?
Before we talk about the differences between each piece of software, it’s best to get to know them all individually. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- IWMS: An Integrated Workplace Management System is your all-in-one way to manage facilities. It encompasses tools for everything from real estate portfolio management to floor plan creation and beyond. It’s the most inclusive tool in a facility manager’s arsenal.
- CMMS: A Computerized Maintenance Management System focuses exclusively on handling facility maintenance requests. If a light bulb is burnt out or there’s a mess that needs cleaning up, this system coordinates everything, from request ticketing to task delegation and dispatching.
- CAFM: A Computer Aided Facilities Management platform focuses on the physical workplace and everything in it. This software handles floor plan creation, space utilization, and more. It’s all about using space efficiently and accommodating workers.
- EAM: Enterprise Asset Management systems focus on managing assets, as their name implies. This means knowing how many computers and workstations you have, where your copy machines are located, etc. They also help keep these things on-track for maintenance, updates, and accounting.
Now, let’s look at why you might choose one versus another for facility maintenance and oversight:
IWMS vs. CMMS
Choosing between an IWMS platform and a CMMS solution comes down to need. Specifically, the maintenance needs of your facility and who manages them.
If your role as a facilities manager involves fielding employee support tickets and passing them on to maintenance and other departments, an IWMS is the way to go. This solution will roll in maintenance requests alongside other aspects of facilities management. An IWMS allows facilities managers to more efficiently oversee maintenance. It can also shed insight into common problems and the costs to fix them.
For more information on IWMS, please view our What is IWMS Software guide.
On the other hand, if support tickets are submitted directly to maintenance or an office manager, a CMMS may be all you need. The singular focus of a CMMS—managing maintenance—makes it a good investment for departmental use. If you don’t need to worry about other aspects of facilities management, a CMMS is the smart approach.
IWMS vs. CAFM
An IWMS system and CAFM software aren’t separated by much when it comes to physical facilities management. A CAFM platform provides day-to-day resources to properly manage the workplace. Where CAFM platforms often lack is in their ability to provide insights beyond the office floor.
If you need data spanning multiple locations or an entire real estate portfolio, an IWMS is the way to go. Similarly, if you’re managing an agile environment, an IWMS solution will have critical tools not available to CAFM users—namely company directory and hot desk assignments. The difference between these two programs isn’t so much how they’re used as on what scale they’re used. Safe to say, the larger the company and the more oversight their space demands, the more appealing an IWMS becomes.
A simple way of distinguishing IWMS from CAFM is to look at it from an actionable approach. CAFM offers primarily administrative tools; IWMS offers deployable resources.
For more information on CAFM, please view our What is CAFM guide.
EAM vs. CMMS
The question between EAM and CMMS is about assets vs. facilities. The simplest approach is to consider the building itself instead of the things in it.
To ensure the building itself is being serviced and maintained correctly, there’s no question a CMMS approach is the way to go. These systems are set up to field the day-to-day demands of facilities—whether it’s restocking bathroom supplies, fixing a motion sensor, or tending to a leak.
For the assets at work—such as computers, copy machines, electronics—EAM is the frontrunner. These systems aren’t so much detailed around daily support as they are managing assets for their lifespan. This includes valuing them for accounting purposes, while also keeping them on a proper maintenance schedule and tracking their use and location.
While both systems deal with tangible workplace components, how they’re designed and what they’re focused on are different.
Use-case demands dictate software support
Few companies deploy all four of these systems. For example, if you’re using CMMS and CAFM software, you could just be using an IWMS system that includes features from both. It all depends on scale.
Identifying your needs and pairing them with the right software will put you in the position to make a smart investment. And, whether you’re using an IWMS platform or relying on an EAM, CMMS or CAFM for support, the efficiency these programs enable is invaluable to facilities management.