What is CAFM and How Can It Help Your Business?
By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
Computer-aided facility management (CAFM) is a growing area of information technology that allows business owners and their businesses to move essential logistical tasks into the digital space through business continuity and facility management software. From the day-to-day management of desk space and conference rooms to big-picture analysis of whether current office space is meeting an organization’s business plans, the CAFM system provides the ideal next-gen tech solution to a problem that’s as old as the very concept of an office building. Learn more about what this kind of software can do for you and how the right CAFM solution can revolutionize everything from employee morale to move management when it’s time to upgrade to a new office space, as well as preventive maintenance management.
The United States National CAD Standard, or NCS, helps to simplify the exchange of building design and construction data from project development with a facility. They provide a consistent resource for the organization of data and can streamline electronic data management of facility management data. It is important when speaking of CAFM because building design data used to be presented in several different formats. CAD provides relevant standards for CAFM systems to help make the processes easier and more efficient.
Exploring CAFM: Purpose and Execution
How does a facility management team record, analyze, and reference all of the data points they’re responsible for to ensure business continuity? Before the CAFM system, that answer was complicated. A range of analog tools, spreadsheets, blueprints, layout diagrams, and sign-up sheets created a mountain of papers that were difficult to synergize into an efficient, complete picture of how the office’s physical attributes were behaving. From individual chairs to sections of a room and even larger areas such as an entire floor or building, facility management teams had their work cut out for them.
CAFM software can help to develop and manage human resources, manage financial and physical resources, and produce and deliver solutions and results. All of these assets in combination can also help identify relevant processes and identify knowledge processes that need further assessment and physical assets that may require additional planned preventative maintenance.
CAFM solutions make inefficient tracking and cumbersome analog management systems a thing of the past. Space planning, room reservations, and even employee location are now as simple as a few clicks in a CAFM program. A clean, user-friendly interface gives clear visibility to all the different components you need to work with to manage and plan the physical attributes in an office, including the humans that make the place run. That’s much easier than the old-fashioned pen and paper.
When to Use CAFM
So, when is a CAFM program useful? There are daily and special event applications to consider. For daily use, a good CAFM system can help determine which communal office spaces are open for a reservation so teams can make plans to collaborate in a meeting room with a whiteboard. The CAFM functionality can also keep track of which employees are where at any given moment, so you’ll never have to run around the entire office to find key team members for signatures and other functions that require an in-person interface.
This kind of functionality also supports the ever-changing needs of an agile workplace that allows employees to take charge of their days and work when and where it makes the most sense for their style and needs. Workplaces with open, unassigned seating can make it much easier for workers to find a place to sit that isn’t currently occupied by another employee who might have gotten up to grab a cup of coffee or meat with teammates in a conference room.
A CAFM system like SpaceIQ is also perfect for high-level planning, whether it’s for a move or office reorganization. Planning hypothetical furniture layouts and seating arrangements is super easy when you have a digital representation to work with. Key planning team members can collaborate, save drafts, send mockups to management, and quickly reorganize a seating chart to meet the range of demands that inevitably crop up during this kind of planning process. CAFM software can even help keep track of which furniture pieces are where during a move, reducing the chance that valuable company property gets misplaced in transit.
Which Employees Benefit from CAFM Use?
CAFM software and programs have completely revolutionized the way facility management professionals do their jobs. The process of putting together the puzzle of finance, HR, management, and logistical physical concerns is no longer a complex process that takes time away from the actual work of overseeing space and physical resources. Some companies now even hire CAFM administrators to take care of the procedural details while facility managers focus on big-picture tasks and planning.
However, as we hinted at above, CAFM programs can benefit a wide range of people in the office. Though in theory, a facility management team can benefit most directly from a program that makes their day-to-day job function much easier and more efficient, the benefit can extend to just about any person who works in your office space, including members of teams that are part of other organizations that share the same facility. Employees who need to reserve space or find teammates will be glad they have the resource available to them, and management will be happy to see their operations running smoothly.
Industries That Can Benefit from This Technology
If your organization operates from physical premises, you can benefit from CAFM. There are no industry niches or other categorical divisions that exclude a business from reaping the benefits of a CAFM program. From tech startups to media conglomerates, any business that has space management, move management, space allocation or seat assignment needs can make effective use of CAFM. These systems are ideal for modern, agile workplaces that allow for free movement around the office, but even more traditional workplaces can see a financial and procedural benefit from the adoption of user-friendly programs that make facility management easier.
Digital marketing firms, call centers, manufacturing business offices, clothing labels, social networks, and many more are all prime candidates for CAFM efficiency improvements. Whether your office uses cubicles, communal desks or individual offices, the ability to track, analyze, and report on facility usage and space allocation will make a major positive impact on the way your organization runs and your employees work.
Financial Benefits of CAFM
How much are you paying for your office space? Are you certain that you’re maximizing every cent of that cost? CAFM technology allows for a high-level analysis of just what’s happening in the physical spaces your organization occupies. Having an expansive environment in which to spread out and work can be a fantastic way of making employees feel comfortable, which, in turn, boosts productivity. However, there could be areas of underutilized square footage that you aren’t even aware of yet. That’s one of the most important financial benefits of CAFM: The ability to track actual facility usage and determine whether you have more space than you actually need. With a little restructuring, you could find a way to welcome a small company into your workspace, collecting monthly rent and using your CAFM software to help negotiate who gets to use what parts of the office and when.
On the flip side, you can use your CAFM to tell when certain parts of the office are over-utilized. If a specific department has been suffering from productivity problems, it could be that inefficient space usage is to blame. Employees who feel too cramped or crowded into an undesirable part of the office could experience a productivity renaissance with a little retooling.
Beyond the cost of the premises you occupy, though, CAFM programs can be used to keep track of physical assets, even down to individual units like chairs and desks. You can use a CAFM program to keep track of all the workspace assets in the office, reducing the chance that something expensive could get misplaced or otherwise depart from the office without notice. Plus, CAFM tracking can help you keep tabs on which rooms are getting utilized when, which gives you a better picture of utility costs. Sensor integration can further optimize the way utility costs rack up in a workplace by automatically turning lights off when the last person departs from a conference room or other side space.
Why CAFM is Essential for Modern Workplace Operations
Modern workplaces need modern solutions to classic problems. SpaceIQ offers a program that your employees will actually be happy to use. With helpful features like Slack integration and mobile management capability, we make it simple for each member of your team to get on board and use the tools that are available to them.
Space allocation is a key issue in agile workplaces that allow movement and flexibility. This free and open approach to office space is proven to make employees happier and more productive, but it can create some planning headaches when it comes to avoiding conflict over which teams get to use what space when. You can sidestep the question of who gets what by providing transparency and open communication about the office environment. And, as your company grows, it’s easy to add new employees into the program for quick on-boarding and seamless orientation to the space. HR will be happy to have such a straightforward way to integrate new team members into the physical landscape of your office environment.
Most modern workplaces require mobility and flexibility. A CAFM that is able to adapt and evolve to keep in pace with the changing needs of the business is important. It is also an effective tool when it comes to analyzing worker productivity and addressing any issues that may arise. CAFM applications allow workforce scheduling to become mobilized and client feedback received can be used to review the personnel and address any possible training issues that may arise. Finally, CAFM applications can help with interpersonal staff relationships and can help determine if management intervention is needed for any given situation.
The steps of analysis and action are important to any CAFM strategy whether it is concerning the financials of the business, the client satisfaction, the maintenance of the building and equipment, or the overall satisfaction and comfort of the people that the business employs. High staff morale is a critical component in achieving workplace productivity.
How to Start Integrating CAFM Into Your Strategy
Whether you have an established facility management strategy that needs modernization or you’re a startup business that needs to formalize some of your processes, a CAFM can help. A CAFM program will help you get organized and stay that way through all the growth and change that’s in your company’s future. CAFM software will make everything from moving to day-to-day space management easier, more efficient, and all-around better for everyone in your office.
When integrating CAFM into your strategy, you will want to focus on value as well as the analysis and strategic goals of the company so that real value is established within the organization. If there are not clear goals in mind then there may be a misalignment of strategy as well as disconnected decision making, Project decisions are best when linked with KPI’s and other objectives to ensure that each goal is clearly defined and the strategies improve the company.
KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator, and it is a measurable value that can help demonstrate how effectively the business is meeting and achieving their objectives. KPI’s aid the business in staying aligned with their overall goals. To develop a KPI strategy for your business, you should first describe your goals or intended results and then understand the measures that must be taken to achieve these goals. You will also select measurements to define each objective, define composite indicators, and then set the targets. KPI’s are a flexible and interactive reporting tool that can be used with CAFM.
Implementing a CAFM into your facility management or property management strategy can be overwhelming for those that will be using it if they are not yet familiar with what it entails. If you slowly introduce CAFM to the people that will be using it, you will award them additional time to learn the new processes so before the program is fully initialized there will be a clear understanding of the functionality and capabilities of a CAFM solution which may help alleviate any issues down the line. A dedicated customer success manager should be available to assist the workers in learning and understanding the new processes and be able to answer any questions they may have.
Planned Maintenance Systems
A planned maintenance system will help identify and address any key issues that a successful CAFM investment should focus on. Using this system requires the business to understand what issues will need to be addressed so that implementation of a CAFM system is successful and it reaches it potential. A successful CAFM system can boost productivity and address the ROI, or return on investment, the business will see.
A planned maintenance system tracks both planned and unplanned maintenance and planned maintenance software is helpful to track certain tasks. Planned maintenance systems can help a business create a more comfortable workplace and reduce any environmental impacts they may have. It can also help cut down on the operating costs of the facility and ensure that all assets are properly managed and maintained and working efficiently.
What is a Computer Maintenance Management System?
A Computer Maintenance Management System, or CMMS, is computer software that is designed to help simplify maintenance management within a business. Maintenance management includes overseeing different maintenance resources that a business uses so that they do not experience downtime due to broken or faulty equipment or insufficient maintenance procedures.
Businesses are no longer subjected to recording maintenance data with a pencil and piece of paper, and we are long past the days where maintenance is only performed when something is found wrong with the machines. In order to keep track of these vital maintenance records and maintain a proper level of control, everything has moved to computers so that the business can track any work orders they receive, they can generate more accurate reporting techniques and can help determine which machines will require more attention and maintenance.
Utilizing a CMMS can increase productivity, ensure longer equipment life, eliminate messy paperwork, and reduce downtime. While computers cannot take the place of a skilled technician, they award the technicians more time to focus their attention and skill on maintenance rather than deal with paperwork. It is a maintenance management solution with a computer-aided design that features several distinctive features and capabilities that can work for different systems.
Features of Integrated CAFM Systems and Capabilities
CMMS and CAFM systems have merged to create IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management Systems). The CAFM software combines computer aided design with relational database software and employs specific abilities concerning Facilities Management, or FM.
The IWMS combines five different functional domains. These domains include real estate and lease management, facilities and space management, maintenance management, project management, and environmental sustainability. CAFM systems operate using multiple technology platforms while the IWMS uses just a single platform.
When determining whether a business can benefit from IWMS, it is important to consider the internal and external costs and the monetary value from a long-term standpoint. Compare the total investment that must be made with the benefits of full transparency, efficiency, compliance, decision support, and cost savings that can be found with IWMS (read more on what is IWMS software).
CAFM for Property Management
CAFM property management software is beneficial for businesses because it provides the ability to manage single or multiple companies within only one database. To establish a database of property information for any business location at any level of the CAFM Explorer hierarchy is simple to follow and includes many key features for property management. These features include a dynamic link to property related planned maintenance and the ability of the business to track the condition of building elements such as the structure and mechanical details of the building.
A business can also increase their profits concerning their physical assets such as real estate, buildings, equipment, and related infrastructure when employing CAFM for property management. These beneficial features can help a business better analyze their real estate development while improving any strategic planning in the process.
Property management software is most beneficial concerning the long-term goals and processes of a business or establishment and can provide a property management solution that can aid in improving long-term planning and asset management. Some CAFM solutions can provide more detailed descriptions of the physical space and location of a building, and then the CAFM can use databases in combination with visual modeling tools and geographic information systems to gain a unique view of the facility.
CAFM Asset Management
CAFM Asset Management offers a solution to managing computers, printers, office services, and other equipment. The asset management portfolio will include the location, history, condition, and value of the company’s assets. Asset management is typically used within CAFM models that include the Help Desk, Planned Preventative Maintenance, and testing. It is not limited to just one department of the organization, rather it can spread to several different operations within the business.
An asset management planner can help balance work and resources including tracking expenditures related to maintenance and repairs, locate and review detailed asset information, audit and change history recording, and generate and export asset documentation with real-time asset visibility.
Asset management creates another level of value for the business and varies depending on the size of the organization and the amount of assets that are available. It also integrates processes over several operations including HR, risk management, and financial aspects of the business.
CAFM Digital Dashboard
The CAFM Digital Dashboard is a graphical representation of the KPI’s and SLA found within your organization. You will be able to receive feedback regarding service levels, maintenance management, and performance so that you are better able to monitor and act on this feedback.
You will have the ability to monitor performance and trends easily, analyze inefficiencies, make informed decisions based purely on facts that are presented, align your targets with potential strategies, review administrative duties, and generate and examine other statistical data concerning your organization.
The downfall to implementing a digital dashboard with CAFM software is that they are only useful when the proper tools are set in place. The dashboard should be used to measure meaningful data that will represent the analytics of the business so that they can find strategies to improve and succeed in reaching target goals. Often, the digital dashboard is created without the user in mind and can require a complicated setup and assistance from an IT team. Compatibility is also an issue a lot of people face with digital dashboards because if the digital dashboard cannot successfully connect with critical business systems, then the business may receive faulty information or incorrect and outdated information.
A successful digital dashboard will connect its users to information that is created in real time and refresh daily to ensure the most up to date information. Users should also be able to connect to this information remotely if they are not at their desks.
Digital workplace management systems are ideal for real estate professionals and can provide essential tools that can help them oversee their portfolio especially concerning real estate database management, lease management, and tracking. Digital workplace management systems are also effective at providing real estate professionals with accounting and budgeting management.
More CAFM Considerations
CAFM systems and solutions and CAFM software can differ in many ways including variations in design, capabilities and features and it is important that the business first defines the goals they want to implement within a CAFM system and provide representation for the team that will be running the CAFM solution. It is also important that all information is input so that there is no inconsistent or missing data that could interfere with the potential of the CAFM system.
A web accessible front end makes the CAFM process more efficient so that the business can share real time data and management information with users at multiple locations. Businesses also may set up CAFM so that they can utilize the space management functions, and then, later on, they choose to add asset management. Therefore looking to the future is important when implementing any CAFM system. The network should have sufficient speeds to transport all of the data without compromising the database at any time.
It is also permitted to set data accessibility concerning the maintenance management system. The access to the maintenance management system can be granted according to the worker’s individual job function so that the risk of corrupted files or other disasters can be reduced.
The integration of CAFM software provides a business with several beneficial advantages concerning maintenance management that may not even be fully realized until it is completely implemented. CAFM systems must be chosen based on the company’s needs and be implemented in a managed environment so that proper training in its processes is completed. There should also be specific roles placed on management concerning the different responsibilities that will be outlined when using a CAFM solution.
Workplace management and productivity, as well as efficiency, are possible advantages to a business that has chosen to employ a CAFM solution. Space planning and management, financial control, security management, real estate and property management, and project management can also benefit from a CAFM system.