What is facility management software?

Facility management software is a comprehensive tool designed to assist businesses in managing their facilities and physical spaces more efficiently. It encompasses various applications that support the planning, maintenance, and optimization of buildings and physical assets. For many businesses, facility management software is a cornerstone of their operational management approach, particularly in workplace management.

At its core, facility management software aims to streamline the complex and multifaceted processes involved in managing physical spaces. This includes everything from daily maintenance tasks to long-term strategic planning. By leveraging technology, businesses can achieve higher levels of efficiency, reduce operational costs, and improve the overall workplace environment.

Key functions and features of facility management software

Space management: One of the primary functions of facility management software is space management. It helps organizations efficiently allocate and utilize space, ensuring that every square foot is used optimally. This includes assigning seats, planning office layouts, and managing shared spaces to prevent conflicts and maximize productivity.

Maintenance management: Facility management software often includes tools for scheduling and tracking maintenance tasks. This ensures that equipment and facilities are kept in good working condition, reducing downtime and extending the lifespan of assets. Preventive maintenance schedules can be set up to avoid unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs.

Asset management: Keeping track of physical assets is crucial for any organization. Facility management software provides a centralized system to monitor asset locations, conditions, and maintenance histories. This helps in making informed decisions about asset utilization, repairs, and replacements.

Move management: Coordinating office moves can be a logistical nightmare. Facility management software simplifies this process by providing tools to plan and execute moves efficiently. This includes everything from mapping out new office layouts to scheduling move dates and ensuring minimal disruption to daily operations.

Real estate management: For organizations with multiple locations, managing real estate can be complex. Facility management software provides insights into real estate utilization, helping businesses make strategic decisions about leasing, buying, or selling properties. This ensures that real estate investments align with the organization’s long-term goals.

Environmental and sustainability management: Modern facilities management software often includes features to monitor and manage energy usage, waste, and overall sustainability efforts. This helps organizations meet regulatory requirements, reduce their environmental footprint, and achieve sustainability goals.

Benefits of facility management software

Increased efficiency: Automating routine tasks and providing real-time data helps facility managers and their teams work more efficiently. This reduces the time spent on manual processes and allows staff to focus on more strategic activities.

Cost savings: By optimizing space usage, improving maintenance processes, and extending asset lifespans, facility management software can lead to significant cost savings. It helps identify inefficiencies and provides data-driven insights for cost-effective decision-making.

Improved employee experience: A well-managed workplace contributes to a better employee experience. Facility management software helps create a comfortable, organized, and productive environment, which can enhance employee satisfaction and retention.

Data-driven decisions: With comprehensive data on facilities, assets, and maintenance activities, facility managers can make more informed decisions. This leads to better planning, improved resource allocation, and a more strategic approach to facility management.

Regulatory compliance: Keeping track of compliance requirements can be challenging. Facility management software helps ensure that all regulatory and safety standards are met, reducing the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties.

Types of facility management software

There are different types of facility management software, each catering to specific needs and industries:

Computer-aided facility management (CAFM): CAFM software focuses on the technical aspects of facility management, providing tools for space planning, asset management, and maintenance scheduling.

Integrated workplace management systems (IWMS): IWMS software offers a more comprehensive solution, integrating various functions like real estate management, space planning, and maintenance into a single platform. It provides a holistic view of the organization’s facilities and physical assets.

Enterprise asset management (EAM): EAM software is designed for managing physical assets throughout their lifecycle, from acquisition to disposal. It includes tools for asset tracking, maintenance management, and performance monitoring.

Building management systems (BMS): BMS software focuses on the operational aspects of managing a building, including HVAC, lighting, and security systems. It helps ensure that the building operates efficiently and sustainably.

Selecting the best integrated workplace management software (IWMS)

Selecting the best integrated workplace management software (IWMS) for your needs is key to getting the most from this tool. Whether you’re new to digital IWMS or CAFM systems, or unsatisfied with your current program, this guide will help you make an ideal selection.

Evaluate your current facility management needs

Before you start shopping for FM software, take stock of your facility management needs. Understanding how you’re going to apply the software and to what degree is crucial. Some great questions to ask include:

– How many employees do you have?

– What kind of building are you in?

– Do you share the space with other organizations or is your group the sole occupier?

– How is your decision-making process, including project management, asset management, and maintenance management?

From move management to space allocation and real estate forecasting, to workspace management, your IWMS should make your management efforts run more efficiently and smoothly. Think about what facility management tasks could be more effective within your organization:

– Are you having trouble convincing management that certain changes are needed because you can’t capture the right data?

– Are employees getting into conflicts over who can use what space when?

– Does the office generally feel cramped and uncomfortable, even though you have plenty of room to work with?

– Do you have to print out old-school seating charts on paper and mark them with a pen?

This kind of introspection is the first step toward unlocking maximum facility management benefits from software that meets your business’s day-to-day operational needs.

Identify your top 3 most critical facility management tasks

After you’ve made a big-picture assessment of what you need from a CAFM software program, get more specific so you can zero in on the features that matter most. Think of the top three most important facility management tasks you need to take care of regularly.

What would have the biggest positive impact on your office within the next month if you implemented a new IWMS program? For example, if you’re facing a big office move and are already sensing a non-digitized organization plan going off the rails, this could be your most important issue.

If employees report a lack of satisfaction with their ability to collaborate in the office, affecting productivity, it’s time to get help. A well-run facility management program can be a key factor in facilitating productivity for individual employees daily.

The purpose of this exercise is to identify the most important and applicable features in facility management software. Few IWMS/CAFM programs have it all, and those that do may be packed with features you won’t use. Every office, organization, and facility management team is different, so a customized approach is essential. That’s why it’s important to take a personalized inventory of your specific needs.

Consider the difficulty of implementation

Avoid bloated software with unnecessary features, as these programs are often more complex than needed, making onboarding and implementation cumbersome and time-consuming. Your team likely already has a full workload and wants to learn skills to perform their jobs better, not wrestle with an overly complex IWMS/CAFM system.

If your staff doesn’t learn to use the software, implementation and adoption will be far less successful. Your goal should be to make implementation a smooth and easy process requiring minimal training. The best facility management software often requires less input from the IT department and offers a cloud-based facilities management program at the root of business operations, ensuring you’re equipped to evolve and thrive in an agile, unpredictable environment.

Consider your options for application-based platforms versus web-based facilities management software. Depending on the deployment and accessibility options, it may be more or less applicable to your workplace. For example, web-based software can provide accessibility from multiple locations for larger companies, while application-based software may be suitable for single locations.

Assess user interface and features to facilitate widespread adoption

Ease of use isn’t just about the figurative weight of the program. A slimmed-down IWMS that addresses your particular needs is likely to be easier to adopt, but the user interface is important as well. Even minor concerns like design quality and intuitive user controls will influence how happy your staff is to use the platform you choose. An easy user experience will likely result in more and better use of the product, ensuring your initial investment in the software pays off as it becomes part of your organization’s day-to-day operational culture.

Look for an IWMS/CAFM program that integrates seamlessly with your existing collaboration and communication tools. Features like easy, clickable space allocation and employee location can make the user interface effective, but it’s best if these tools don’t exist in a vacuum, separate from your team’s other communication methods.

A system that keeps good records of your facilities management activities can also provide value by automating tasks that once required a lot of time and effort. This “system of record” feature alone can impact adoption and provide value.

Think ahead to future needs

Choosing the top facilities management software for you is like choosing a car or buying a house: you’ll want to think about how your use of the platform will change over time. The needs you have today may not be the needs you have six months or a year from now. Thinking ahead can make it easier to find an IWMS/CAFM software program that can evolve with you and continue to meet your needs regardless of what happens in the future.

For example, let’s say move management isn’t a top priority now, but your company is likely to grow significantly over the next five years. Growth means bringing in new employees, planning new floorplans, and analyzing real estate utilization. If everything goes according to plan, you’ll probably need to move into a new office to accommodate new team members, making move management a helpful feature in the IWMS/CAFM platform you choose.

Future-proofing can also be a concern. Outdated technology like Java and Flash may have been the standard in the past, but modern technology relies on other languages. If you want your IWMS/CAFM to grow with your organization, select a platform that runs on updated technology like HTML5 and relies on cloud-based communication.

Don’t discount comfort and word-of-mouth

Making a final decision can be tough, so don’t hesitate to validate your assumptions and rely on other professionals’ recommendations. Often, the best facility management software is backed by glowing reviews from users who have found value in the platform.

The decision you make can have a far-reaching impact on your organization, but you don’t need to feel too much pressure. If a system feels too impersonal and looks outdated, that alone may dissuade you from adopting it. The look and feel of the platform matter, especially when you want your entire workplace to interact with it. Knowing that others have successfully adopted and implemented a particular technology provides real-world context for the features you’ve seen in a demo.

The vendor you choose should be willing to work with you and address your organization’s needs. If there’s a feature you want to see in a few years, it’d be nice if the vendor was eager to hear that feedback. FM software is a big deal because it provides a big-impact service for those who need it. Each year, new facility management trends emerge, which should be considered.

Demo and explore

If possible, demo or trial as many potential software candidates as you can. A hands-on, real-time understanding of the platform will clue you in on what to expect if you choose that particular facility management software system.

A guided demo provides a step-by-step introduction to the platform and allows you to ask questions answered by a representative. Unguided trials give you the freedom to explore the platform without interruption. Both approaches help you set expectations and discern what you like or don’t like about the interface or functionality. They also allow you to identify specific features you may want to investigate further in other platforms or measure against your needs.

Making the final decision

After vetting various facility management software systems against the criteria outlined here, it’s time to make a confident decision that will benefit you, your staff, and your business. Check each platform against your criteria, notes, criticisms, reviews, and positive checks to see which options stand out. Also, review if outsourcing facility management is a fit for your company. Then, narrow down by factors like price, ease of implementation, and preference. Choose wisely, and you’ll see a great ROI before you know it!

 

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.