CAFM, CMMS and IWMS are all commonly-heard acronyms in the facilities management world. What is actually the difference?

What is the difference between computer aided facilities management (CAFM), a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) and an integrated workplace management system (IWMS)?

The worlds of facilities management and property maintenance are rich in acronyms, abbreviations and industry-specific terminology. That’s why we have a glossary of terms to help you navigate the landscape. 

Three of the acronyms you will no doubt come across in the facilities management industry are: CAFM, CMMS and IWMS. Just to confuse things, you may also hear about EAMs (Enterprise Asset Management systems) which are effectively subsets of CMMS. 

Even once someone has told you what the acronyms stand for - Computer Aided Facilities Management, Computerised Maintenance Management Systems and Integrated Workplace Management Systems - you could still be forgiven for asking the basic question: ‘What’s the difference?’.

If you would like some more information on ‘What is a CMMS?’ and ‘What is a IWMS?’ click on these links. For now, let’s give you an abbreviated definition and then outline the differences.

What is Computer Aided Facilities Management?

Computer aided facilities management (CAFM) deals with the physical space and management of the resources within. Beyond just maintenance management, this will often include things such as floor plan creation or space planning. 

What is a CMMS?

A computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) is an electronic means of managing the maintenance of the built world. These systems are focused on the issuance of work orders, tracking maintenance expenditure and history and ensuring compliance with relevant rules and regulations. 

What is an IWMS?

An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) is a software system that allows organisations to optimise the use of their workplace resources. This includes ensuring that the company’s real estate portfolio is maximised in terms of occupancy and earnings. 

Summary of Differences

The most obvious difference between the different systems is who uses them as much as what they are used for. At their core, each has a fairly specific data subset that they focus on, whether this is:

  • Assets

If maintenance of assets is your primary focus, and you are likely to be the recipient of work orders rather than the issuer then a CMMS or EAM is likely to be the best system for you.

  • Facilities

If you are managing facilities yourself then a CAFM or IWMS will be your software system of choice. Where e.g. employees can report tickets as well, an IWMS will be most fit for purpose. 

  • Property portfolio

Where you are managing a property portfolio, an IWMS is the one for you. This aggregates information and data across a portfolio of assets and can also provide insights across e.g. yield and expenses. 


In simple terms, all of the solutions have the same objective at heart: to make management of properties, assets and people as efficient as possible. The means by which they approach this objective, and the most likely users of their solution are the primary differences between each of the different options.

We hope this has made things a little more clear, but recognise that it could well have complicated things further. If you still have questions, you can always get in touch.

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