Do you need an IWMS or a CMMS?

by Glenn Hicks on January 28, 2020
The Next Generation of IWMS: iXMS

Choosing between a CMMS and an IWMS can feel a bit like choosing between a vehicle with four-wheel drive and one with all-wheel drive.

Both serve very similar functions, and on the surface, they sound interchangeable. If you need a smarter way to manage maintenance, a CMMS and IWMS will both get the job done—just like 4WD and AWD vehicles will get you safely to your destination on a snow-covered road.

But in both cases, the difference is in the details. Let’s explore what makes each unique and how to know which is best for your organization.

What Is An IWMS?

An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) is a software platform that helps facilities managers and other workplace leaders perform essential operational functions, including space management, asset tracking and maintenance.

IWMS software combines data from many sources into a single system so leaders can make more informed decisions about their workplace and real estate.

IWMS Benefits

One in five corporate real estate leaders is considering the purchase of an IWMS as they look to modernize their workplace, according to recent research from Verdantix.

An IWMS offers many benefits, including:

  • Allowing leaders to see important details about their real estate at a glance
  • Improving space utilization
  • Improving asset tracking
  • Reducing equipment downtime
  • Reducing overall maintenance costs
  • Extending the useful life of assets
  • Allowing managers to efficiently handle service requests
  • Automating preventive maintenance

While many legacy facility management systems are built on-premise, which makes them expensive to maintain and update, a cloud-based IWMS eliminates the costs of IT hardware and upgrades. That’s why the best IWMS solutions on the market today are software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Who Uses An IWMS?

An IWMS is ideal for companies in heavily regulated industries, where it’s critical to maintain proper documentation about every space and asset. It also makes sense for large and fast-growing companies with multiple locations distributed across the country or the globe.

Traditionally, facilities managers and corporate real estate leaders have been the most common users of IWMS software. However, that has been changing in recent years with the introduction of new technologies and the changing nature of the workforce.

As organizations adopt a more distributed workforce and move away from assigned seats, an IWMS is becoming the critical link that keeps employees connected to each other and the physical environment. The addition of mobile workplace apps that enable employees to find and reserve space, access services and receive important information is making IWMS software even more valuable. In addition to managing operations, IWMS software with robust reporting can help organizations keep track of KPIs. For these reasons, it’s being used more frequently by IT managers, HR professionals and other department leaders as well.

What Is A CMMS?

While an IWMS is designed for broader facilities management, a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is designed primarily to manage assets and maintenance activities.

CMMS Benefits

A CMMS makes facilities managers and maintenance leaders more efficient by:

  • Reducing equipment downtime
  • Reducing overall maintenance costs
  • Extending the useful life of assets
  • Improving asset tracking
  • Allowing managers to handle service requests more efficiently
  • Automating preventive maintenance

Like the best IWMS software, the best CMMS solutions on the market today are cloud-based, mobile and offer access to real-time data. They also have an intuitive user interface.

Who Uses A CMMS?

While an IWMS is being used more broadly as its functionality has evolved, a CMMS still has maintenance as its primary focus.

For this reason, it is still most commonly used by maintenance professionals. In particular, it’s ideal for organizations with a large number of assets and/or maintenance needs, especially those with large fleet, construction, manufacturing and facilities assets. 

A CMMS is useful for many industries, including:  

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Food service
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and gas
  • Retail
  • Shipping and logistics
  • Transportation

Many organizations in these industries could also benefit from an IWMS, depending on the extent of their needs.

For instance, an oil and gas company has a large number of assets as well as a large workforce distributed among many offices. An organization like this typically has a corporate real estate leader responsible for overseeing all of its properties in addition to a facilities management or maintenance team. While the facilities team will be more focused on preventive maintenance and service requests, the CRE leader needs to be able to see information on the occupancy and costs of every building. Building costs are influenced by maintenance needs, so it makes sense for both functions to be connected with an IWMS.

Assessing Your Facility Management Software Needs

As you can see, there is a lot of overlap between an IWMS and a CMMS.

So how do you know which is right for your organization?

Here are a few questions that can guide you in your decision.

1. What Functionality Do You Need?

Is it primarily related to maintenance, or do you also need to manage other aspects of the workplace? If you need to manage other areas of the workplace, such as planning for moves, you most likely need an IWMS.

2. What Data Do You Need To Capture?

While both an IWMS and a CMMS offer robust reporting capabilities, an IWMS offers comprehensive analytics on your real estate and space utilization in addition to your assets and maintenance.

3. Who Will Use The Software?

If it’s primarily the maintenance team, a CMMS might be all you need. If you have others involved, such as CRE leaders, workplace leaders, HR managers and IT professionals, you probably need an IWMS.

4. What Is Your Budget?

An IWMS is usually a bigger investment than a CMMS simply because it has broader functionality. However, moving to an IWMS will also help you achieve greater efficiencies and cost savings. The larger your organization, the more you will likely save.

An added bonus: an IWMS may allow you to replace other stand-alone software systems, eliminating annual fees.

5. What Are Your Future Goals?

If you are a fast-growing organization with plans to add more offices and significantly increase your workforce, you need to make sure you have the technology to keep up.

You’ll need a way to keep all your employees connected and make it easy for them to collaborate, wherever they are. If you plan to double your workforce over the next five years, you’ll need more real estate and a smarter way to manage it. If you plan to have more employees working remotely, you’ll want to seriously consider a flexible workplace strategy where employees reserve space as they need it, rather than giving everyone an assigned desk.

You’ll need to be able to easily integrate with sensor technology that tracks real-time space utilization.


As we anticipate these needs, iOFFICE has been making substantial updates to our software and building strategic partnerships. We recently acquired asset management and maintenance leaders Hippo CMMS and ManagerPlus, as well as Teem, a leading provider of space booking and visitor management software.

That gives us a wider umbrella of offerings and allows us to provide even more value to you, whether you need an IWMS, a CMMS or technology to improve your employee experience.

With so many workplace software solutions on the market today, we know the decision can seem overwhelming—and we’d love to make it easier for you!

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with us today.


Glenn Hicks

A member of the Business Development team, Glenn has years of experience with business process improvement on the Commercial Real Estate and Facilities Management sides.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5