Charting the sea of FM software-speak

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The facility management sector is awash with acronyms, especially in the technology sphere with CAFM, CMMS, EAMS, FMIS, IWMS and MMS bandied around with increasing ease, if not understanding.

These acronyms stand respectively for computer-aided facilities management, computerised maintenance management system, enterprise asset management software, facilities management information system, integrated workplace management system, and maintenance management software.

UK-based FM software provider Service Works Global undertook an industry poll to discover which is the most popular term used to described facility management software.

The survey revealed that 40 per cent of facility managers use computer‐aided facilities management (CAFM) to describe the technology they use to support the FM function; 19 percent prefer the simplicity of FM software; 14 percent cite Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS); 12 percent use Computerised Maintenance Management Software (CMMS); 5 percent employ Facilities Management Information System (FMIS); 2 per cent use Maintenance Management Software; and 8 percent use other acronyms entirely.

However, more than 40 percent of respondents believe that, despite the plethora of different terminology, they all refer to the same type of product which offers similar functionality. Almost a quarter felt they were different tools, while another quarter were unsure, possibly confused, by the number of acronyms in this area.

The survey also revealed that Australian facilities professionals are now firmly in favour of the more general FM software term (cited by a third of respondents); with CMMS a close second (26 percent); CAFM (11 percent); FMIS and IWMS (7 percent); while 15 per cent used a different phrase. Since the poll was carried out two years ago, there has been a marked move towards using the term FM software: in 2012, just 2 percent used this term, with CMMS (32 percent); MMS (20 percent – this had a zero rating in 2014); and CAFM (13 percent) being the more popular options.

The UK demonstrated a different trend choosing CAFM, which was cited by 55 percent of facilities professionals as the most popular term, followed by FM software (16 percent); IWMS (8 percent); CMMS (9 percent); FMIS (4 percent); MMS (1 percent); and 7 percent used a different phrase.

“The FM sector is full of acronyms, especially in the field of technology; many of which have been created by software vendors in an attempt to differentiate themselves in the market. However the wide range of acronyms and the lack of terminology definition are causing confusion about the varying functionality offered by these systems,” says Gary Watkins, CEO, of Service Works Global.

“Our own experience shows that facilities managers are using their FM software, CAFM, MMS, CMMS, IWMS, not just for reactive and planned maintenance, but for a variety of tasks including resource management, capital projects and space management, all of which are essential facets of the current expectations of what FM should be delivering. The landscape of facilities management software is changing at a significant pace, to a more widely‐integrated one; in which the FM department shares data with other areas of the organisation, as part of a broader enterprise‐wide solution, in which a constant flow of information is distributed, analysed and actioned to deliver company‐wide benefits and efficiency.”

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