Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) is a software which provides managers with administrative tools and the ability to track, manage, report, and plan facilities operations. It consists of creating and utilizing Information Technology (IT)-based systems in the built environment. A typical CAFM system is a combination of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and/or relational database software with specific abilities for Facilities Management (FM).
The evolution of CAFM happened in the late 1980s by leveraging the personal computer (PC) to enable the automation of the collection and maintenance of FM information. Widespread usage of Information Technology (IT) systems in almost all disciplines meant that IT eventually made its way to the construction and FM industry as well. Post the development of Internet-based database systems, usage of high-end tools in FM practices increased. CAFM systems gave managers the tools to track, plan, manage, and report on facilities information.
CAFM system combines and analyzes complex data to improve FM practices across a variety of industries including government, healthcare, educational, commercial, and industrial environments. The CAFM system gives decision makers the ability to automate many of the data-intensive facility management functions which typically results in continuous cost savings and improved utilization of assets throughout their entire lifecycle.
The use of this software comes with its own share of challenges. Those most often encountered today include the following:
- Shrinking maintenance budgets
- Resource constraints
- Political priorities
- Unfunded mandates
- Distributed data and data disparities
- Organizational stovepipes
Although there are challenges but the benefits outweigh those. Some benefits of CAFM include:
- Strategic Planning
- Space Inventory and Management
- Maintenance and Repairs
- Space Forecasting
Although there is no ideal model which is suitable for all situations, to meet the specific demands of the facility manager, a well-developed CAFM system often includes a variety of functions and features. Businesses across industries can benefit immensely from the knowledge and capabilities of this software.