10 ways the best facility management software builds a smart campus

Greg Jarboe

Greg Jarboe

The term, smart campus, was coined back in 2000. It is an emerging trend that is driving the facility and real estate managers at many higher education institutions to start looking for the best facility management software, so they can begin building a smart campus. And interest in the concept is especially strong in Virginia, Texas, New York, California, Florida, and Georgia.

Now, helping your college or university make smarter, data-driven decisions is a worthy goal to set. And implementing small-scale solutions will contribute in part to the realization of this goal. But, you really need a family of products that are designed to work together seamlessly to establish a smart campus in the foreseeable future.

For example, here are 10 ways that AssetWorks can help you turn the vision of a smart campus into a success story at your institution.

1. Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS)

Last November, Kevin Raasch wrote a post entitled, “Facilities Management Software Jargon... Simplified.” He explained that you have a host of options. With so many choices, selecting the right software for your college or university can be overwhelming.

He said, “As you research your options, you’re left to cut your way through technical jargon, industry-specific acronyms, and confusing product descriptions. There’s often ambiguity in functionality explanations and little straightforward explanation of features.”

So, Kevin cut through the technical lingo and declared, “An IWMS is the most comprehensive of the facilities management platforms.”

And he concluded, “If you’re looking for a comprehensive platform that focuses on all pillars of facilities management – IWMS is your tool.”

But, one size does not fit all.

In October 2020, Glenn Adams wrote a post entitled, “Is an IWMS Right for Your Organization?” He said, an IWMS is a vital tool that “helps facilities professionals oversee the complete facilities and real estate lifecycle.”

He added, “But, believe it or not, even we will admit an IWMS isn’t for everyone.”

Glenn explained, “An IWMS is a robust facilities management solution. It is an ideal, high quality, unified software solution for a wide variety of organizations, but not all…. Smaller organizations often find the sophisticated functionality of a robust system to be cumbersome and overwhelming.”

He concluded, “Purchasing an IWMS when you have lighter facilities management software needs is akin to buying a minivan when you only need a bicycle…. However, if you need to transport your family of 5 on a daily basis, the investment in a minivan is well worthwhile.

2. Computer Maintenance Management System (CMMS)

The following day, Glenn wrote another post entitled, “Do I need a CMMS or an IWMS at my Facility?” And he took a closer look at Computerized Maintenance Management Systems.

A CMMS is designed to handle:

  • Equipment maintenance.
  • Tracking the cost of work.
  • Asset location tracking.
  • Monitoring labor resources.

He said, “The purpose of a CMMS is tracking and managing maintenance needs for an organization. A tracking system for high-end equipment like HVAC systems and boilers, a CMMS keeps tabs on both preventive and reactive maintenance. A primary function of a CMMS is accurate tracking and prioritization of work to reduce equipment downtime and avoid costly repairs.”

The same day, Randy Walsh wrote a post entitled, “How to Rectify the Biggest Oversight in Maximizing Your CMMS.” He said, “One critical component for bringing systems to maximum efficiency is integrating your CMMS with your lease management, and space management software.”

Randy concluded, “By implementing an enterprise system that includes CMMS, Space Management as well as lease management functionality, you will be able to keep records in sync and check on follow-through with far greater accuracy. Rather than clumsily attempting to merge information between separate data storehouses, your data can be stored in the same location for organization efficiency and data transparency.”

In short, a CMMS is perfect for tracking maintenance for high-value machinery, but it’s only part of a larger solution.

3. Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM)

The same can be said about Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM).

In fact, Kevin did say that in his post “Facilities Management Software Jargon... Simplified.” He wrote, “Primarily used as a space planning and asset management tool, CAFM is often a piece of a more robust system.”

CAFM software provides:

  • Space Planning.
  • Asset location.
  • Move management.

Kevin added, “Space and move management are the most common uses for this software. Organizations use CAFM for organizing space and keeping track of items within the area.”

And he concluded, “CAFM is a single resource for tracking space use and managing moves. While not comprehensive, facilities staff often utilize CAFM as a piece of a larger platform.”

In a post entitled, “CAFM vs. IWMS - Your Guide to an Informed Decision,” Glenn said, “While a CAFM may provide a reliable option for managing space at your facility, why not go with a system that covers all your space management needs in one platform?”

He added, “An IWMS offers a blend of state of the art space management with advanced facilities management technology. This combination provides a powerful tool for energy, project, construction, maintenance, and lease management on your campus.”

Glenn concluded, “The bottom line: there’s nothing wrong with Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM), but why not select software that does more?”

4. Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)

Another option is Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). As Kevin said in his post, “A more robust version of a CMMS, enterprise asset management systems offer the maintenance tracking options of a CMMS, in addition to financial, HR and administrative capabilities.”

He added, “An EAM looks at whole portfolio – including physical, financial, fixed assets. In short: EAM is best for tracking lifetime asset performance.”

5. Real Estate and Property Management

In March, I wrote a post entitled, “What is the Best IWMS Software for Higher Education?” And I said, “The best IWMS software for higher education should provide five key pillars of capability.”

The first of those pillars is real estate and property management, which enables facility and real estate managers to oversee every aspect of their portfolios, including real estate database management, lease management and tracking, property management, accounting, and budgeting.

So, if adopting an IWMS seems too overwhelming, then why not start by implementing just the real estate and property management capabilities of an IWMS? That would give your organization a unified view of your entire campus, enabling you to track and manage your portfolio of people, places, and things all in one platform. From financial accounting to automatic lease management to strategic planning, our intelligent solutions make your everyday responsibilities a little less daunting.

6. Space Management

The second pillar is space management, which provides accurate data to pinpoint the total cost of owned and leased space across your college or university. Back in May, I wrote a post on this topic entitled, “What is space management software in a world turned upside down?

I said, “Space management software is a powerful tool for space managers. It illuminates how your college or university uses its physical spaces. It is a necessity for large higher education institutions with a portfolio of real estate, buildings, and facilities. A space management system helps managers visualize occupancy, make informed decisions, manage growth, and plan for future space needs.”

So, implementing the space management capabilities in an IWMS will enable you to visualize occupancy, manage growth, and make better informed decisions. It also makes planning for the future easier than ever before.

7. Operations and Maintenance

The third pillar is operations and maintenance (O&M), which can help your higher education institution to reduce inventory carrying costs, improve asset availability, limit equipment downtime, and reduce facilities maintenance costs campus-wide.

Rather than continuing to fight fires, you can implement the operations and maintenance capabilities in an IWMS to prevent potential problems. Since an integrated system offers you information about your entire campus, increased visibility means that O&M runs smoothly, and issues can be addressed before they become a problem.

8. Capital Planning and Project Management (CPPM)

The fourth pillar is capital planning and project management (CPPM), which helps your college or university increase fiscal controls and improve financial accountability for capital projects, reduce their risk profile through improved regulatory compliance, and streamline capital planning and management processes to reduce CAPEX and improve rates of return from capital investments.

In May, Tony Stack wrote a post entitled, “What you need to know about capital planning and project management software.” He said, “One of the biggest challenges for facilities managers is presenting and getting approval for a capital planning project. This is where capital planning and project management software can really help.”

This software provides full portfolio transparency in one integrated solution – and can also identify other key factors, for example:

  • Tracking and managing sustainability goals
  • Improving regulatory compliance
  • Increasing rates of return from capital investments.

So, this is another way to begin building a smart campus.

9. Utility and Energy Management

The fifth pillar is utility and energy management, which enables your higher education institution to identify energy inefficiencies and squeeze greater savings from your current utility management program by blending energy management and feature-rich business intelligence into a single, fully-integrated solution.

It’s difficult to analyze utility bill line-item details, and it’s cumbersome to manage your campus’ entire utility ecosystem with multi-vendor or home-grown energy management solutions. So, use the utility management capabilities in an IWMS to allocate your utility service provider invoices to your internal cost centers, reconcile your utility bills with your internal metering, and leverage space management data to allocate your costs by occupancy.

10. Assessment and Needs Analysis

Last week, I wrote a post entitled, “Typical facilities software vs #1 facilities management software.” And I said that the typical IWMS integrates the five core functional areas mentioned above. I added, “But, the needs of higher education institutions are often different, which is why AssetWorks’ facility management software integrates six core capabilities. So, it goes above and beyond the typical IWMS.”

And I concluded, “You can also use the assessment and needs analysis capabilities in the AssetWorks’ platform, which integrates with operations and maintenance as well as capital planning and project management capabilities. This enables you to store both asset lifecycle and deficiency data in the same platform for increased quality of information and more credible data. No more half accurate snapshots — get the full picture for a stronger multi-year plan.”

Next steps for finding the best facility management software to build a smart campus

In short, there are 10 ways that the best facility management software can help you begin building a smart campus. Which way is the right one for your college or university?

Well, I’d advise you to contact a member of the higher education team at AssetWorks. They average over 15 years of experience in higher education and facilities management. That means they understand how to help you make smarter, data-driven decisions about building better campuses that empower students and faculty, support legacies, and impact futures.


About Greg Jarboe

Greg Jarboe is the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, which has provided services to the University of the Pacific, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and Dickinson College. Greg has been an instructor in several Rutgers Business School Mini-MBA programs.

In addition, Greg is the author of YouTube and Video Marketing and the co-author with Katie Paine of the Communications Measurement eBook for Higher Education. Before co-founding SEO-PR in 2003, Greg was VP of Marketing for WebCT, where he helped to triple the company’s installed base from 700 institutions in 36 countries to 2,172 institutions in 75 countries.