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June 28, 2023     5 minute read

These days, facilities management (FM) professionals have a wide selection of tools and services available to improve program efficiencies. These can range from site-based, standalone applications to comprehensive solutions covering the management and execution of large, multi-site FM programs.

This blog post compares two often-used terms within this space: Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) and Integrated Facilities Management (IFM).

Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM)

Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) is a software tool for planning, managing, reporting, and tracking the facilities and assets of a business. While CAFM can cover asset maintenance and management, its signature uses tend to be for the optimal planning, management, and usage of facility space

CAFM is especially helpful for move planning, lease management, flexible workspace design, and compliance challenges, such as health-based physical distancing. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) functionality and scenario analysisーcommon features of CAFMーcan help create floor plans with furniture, office equipment, computers, and other assets to help ensure space is used efficiently and workers have access to what they need.

For example, suppose there’s a new hire in the HR department. In that case, a facility manager can use CAFM to ensure there’s room for an appropriate workstation and facilitate moving a desk out of storage into that space.

For existing workers, space planning can cover managing and tracking flexible areas, such as meeting and breakout rooms. CAFM software collects valuable data on who’s using what, what’s being effectively leveraged, and what’s going to waste. 

A CAFM system can also assist with the following: 

  • Ordering and tracking supplies
  • Managing vendor contracts and relationships
  • Scheduling regular maintenance and asset inspections
  • Managing and allocating space in the facility

Integrated Facilities Management (IFM)

Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) is a comprehensive approach or strategy for FM in which the management of organization-wide systems and processes一and, typically service providers一is centralized under a single outsourced, technology-focused platform. The goal is to transform FM into a dynamic and efficient program that can support an organization in meeting its tactical facilities needs and help achieve its strategic goals. 

IFM’s consolidated approach leverages industry-leading technology to enhance the visibility of operations across the program一even across hundreds of distributed sites. In tandem with expert management, this enables companies to streamline FM workflows, improve operational efficiencies, and uncover opportunities for cost savings program-wide.

The scope of IFM can be broad, covering services such as:

  • Building maintenance and repairs
  • Cleaning and janitorial services
  • Security and safety management
  • Energy management
  • Vendor and contractor management
  • Compliance and risk management
  • Environmental and sustainability initiatives

An IFM solution also provides access to key program data across the organization. Integration with existing business systems means IT, Finance, Procurement, Sales, and other departments have the FM program information they need when they need it. Overall, this can improve organizational decision making and strategic footing. 

Does a Company Need Both CAFM & IFM?

In most cases, the answer to this question is probably no. Many of the functionalities of a CAFM system, such as space planning and usage, inventory management, vendor management, and maintenance and asset scheduling, can be achieved within the scope of an IFM solution.

This is especially true for large multi-site companies with complex FM needs. Ideally, to get the most out of an IFM solution, many of the CAFM features would be integrated with other tools under the IFM umbrella. 

That said, there may be unique functionalities offered by a CAFM that are not typically seen in an IFM solution suite, such as lease and other real estate management tasks. In those cases, it may be appropriate to explore adding a CAFM tool to an existing IFM solution or whether the IFM solution can be customized to provide the needed functionality. 

The NEST IFM Solution

The NEST IFM solution is designed to deliver unparalleled, multi-site team support both now and as your organization's needs evolve. Five component parts work together under the management of industry experts to optimize FM performance. They include:

    • Facilitate, NEST’s smart work order technology which helps centralize the day-to-day tactical management of FM一all without “tech” or subscription fees.
    • An Independent Service Provider (ISP) network to ensure quality service delivery.
    • An Operational Command Center (OCC) to ensure 24/7/365 coverage of all your facilities’ needs.
    • Powerful analytics to uncover trends and process exceptions that impact operations and your bottom line. 
  • Financial consulting to identify actionable insights for better and more strategic decision making.

With greater overall program transparency, operations can be improved, savings achieved, and budgeting streamlined. This can elevate your FM program to help your company thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s competitive business environment. 

Contact NEST today to learn more about how our IFM solution can help your business achieve more. 


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