CAFM vs. IWMS Software? Why You’re Asking the Wrong Question

by James McDonald on March 28, 2018

There are so many acronyms involved in choosing the right facility management software —CAFM, IWMS, BIM, CMMS—that the search can seem intimidating to the uninitiated. Sometimes if can even feel like swimming in alphabet soup if, for instance, you didn’t already know that CAFM stands for computer-aided facilities management.

So, If you’re new to the field, that’s computer-aided facilities management (CAFM), integrated workplace management system (IWMS), building information modeling (BIM) and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

These software systems can all help to streamline a facility manager’s responsibilities, increasing efficiency and saving costs.

Two of the most common software systems, CAFM and IWMS software, seem very similar at first glance, and you may be wondering which one you need. In this post, we’ll explain the difference between the two and how to decide.

What Is CAFM Software?

Computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) software is used primarily for managing space and assets. Facility managers can store floor plans within the system, visualize their space and view space utilization. They can also store details about their organization’s assets and track asset utilization. This enables them to plan moves, make better use of their existing space and keep track of asset maintenance.

What Is IWMS Software?

IWMS software has the same core functionalities as CAFM software but with additional modules that has traditionally included some combination of these elements:

  • Real estate and lease management
  • Facilities and space management
  • Asset and maintenance management
  • Project management
  • Environmental management

Other functionality includes facility management metrics, mailroom management, inventory management and visitor management. Today, as more companies make the employee experience a top priority, IWMS software like iOFFICE’s also includes employee-facing applications, such as the ability for employees to find people, reserve space, request service and receive visitors or mail wherever they happen to be working.

One of the biggest advantage of IWMS software is right in the name: integrated. While CAFM software typically uses several different platforms, IWMS software keeps everything in one place. Its various modules are all interconnected so facility managers can access information from multiple sources in one place. All data is updated in real time, so when someone books a room in the reservation module, that will be reflected in the space management module. Facility managers in charge of handling service requests can be notified when that room is no longer in use so they’ll know it’s time to clean it.

CAFM or IWMS: Which System Is Right For You?

While CAFM software and IWMS software offer many of the same functions when it comes to space and asset management, an IWMS offers greater functionality and flexibility. If you’re deciding between the two, here are a few important factors to consider:

  • Your industry. Some industries require more management of real estate and equipment, while others require more management of the workforce.
  • Your company size. The larger your organization, the more you’ll likely have to manage. Investing in IWMS software may be more cost-effective than paying monthly subscriptions to a dozen or more different solutions.
  • Facility management tasks. Consider your future needs as well as current ones. You may only need one functionality now, but what about two to three years from now?
  • Your employee experience. CAFM software (and even many of the IWMS software solutions on the market) tend to be one-sided. It’s easy for facility managers to use, but doesn’t necessarily give employees the tools they need to work throughout the day.

You May Not Have To Choose Between CAFM or IWMS

Here’s some good news: You don’t necessarily need to choose one or the other. If your organization already uses CAFM software, you can still benefit from the added functionalities of an IWMS. And if you have an existing CAFM or IWMS but just need to add employee-facing tools, there’s finally a way to do it without replacing your existing system. With iOFFICE Hummingbird, our new employee experience platform, you can keep what you have in place and build upon it.

Hummingbird integrates with your existing IWMS, CAFM or other software systems, such as your employee directory or facility maintenance software. It pulls data from these systems and into a single interface, while also offering user-friendly tools for your employees. This creates a continuous feedback loop: As employees find and reserve space or make service requests, you get real-time insight into how they’re actually using the workplace. It’s a win-win for everyone.

To learn more about Hummingbird, check out our live demo.


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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