A guide to facilities management technobabble
From simple terms like AC (air-conditioning) and FM (facilities management), to the fantastical sounding (but ultimately rather unnecessary) COBRA (Collaborative Occupiers Benchmarking Research Alliance), acronyms are nothing new in our industry. But things are about to get much worse.
That’s because the rapid integration of new technology has deepened the pool of acronyms and now opening an email can make you feel like you’re drowning in letters; one step behind everyone in knowing what on earth is being said. So we’ve come up with the perfect solution.
We felt it was time to demystify some of the more commonly bandied about FM acronyms, and our terminology cheat sheet will ensure that next time someone starts using technobabble at work, you’re not caught nodding in agreement in order to save face.
B BAS (Building Automation System)
A Building Automation System is a network of interconnected components that automatically control a wide range of building operations – for example lighting that comes on at a certain time or AC that kicks in when the temperature reaches a certain point. BI (Business Intelligence)
Business intelligence is the process of collecting data, analysing it and then presenting the results as actionable information – basically turning information to insight. BIM (Building Information Modelling)
Building Information Modelling is a digital representation of a facility’s physical and functional characteristics – for example: height, width and depth or energy use and cost. As the digital visualisation of a building’s data, it can be easily shared and added to across an entire project lifecycle. BPMN (Business Process Modelling Notation)
Business Process Modelling Notation is a standard, easy-to-read graphical presentation of business processes, usually in the form of a flowchart type diagram. It’s used to help bridge communication gaps that often exists between different levels in an organisation – for example: between a CEO and a technician.
C CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management)
Computer Aided Facilities Management is simply the use of IT to support FM professionals in planning, managing, reporting, and tracking facilities operations.
E EAC (Electronic Access Control)
Electronic Access Control is a security control system used to physically manage entry and exit to a facility, or a certain area of facility, via a wide-range of credentials – for example: key cards, passcodes, or biometrics. Not only do they offer a high-level of control, but they also record usage automatically.
G GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
A Geographic Information System is a tool that captures, stores, analyses and displays geographic data. Facilities managers are using GIS tools to support a broad range of applications such as operations planning, emergency management, safety and security planning, and more.
I ICT (Information and Communications Technology)
Information and Communications Technology is an umbrella term that includes pretty much any communication device or application – from early technology like phones and email, to modern innovations like BIM and BAM software. IP Code or IP Rating (International Protection Marking)
International Protection Marking, sometimes interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking, is a classification used to define the level of protection a mechanical casing or electrical enclosure has against foreign bodies and moisture.
The numbers that follow IP each have a specific meaning, the first communicates the level of protection against foreign bodies and the second defines the level of protection from moisture. IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System)
An Integrated Workplace Management System is a software platform that helps FM organisations optimise the use of workplace resources via connected applications such as resource scheduling, employee service management, and space management. IoT (Internet of Things)
Simply put, the Internet of Things is the concept of giving any and all devices the ability to connect to the internet and each other – from everyday examples such as smartphones or smart-TVs, to more novel examples like driverless cars and robotic security guards.
M MI (Management Information)
Put simply, Management Information is any data, statistics or information which is collected and used to manage business performance. MI is a great asset when developing a strategy to drive change for improvement.
N NFC (Near Field Communications)
Near Field Communications is a form of contactless communication between enabled devices such as smartphones or tablets, which allows a user to wave the device over an NFC compatible appliance to send information without needing to establish a connection or touch them together.
R RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
Radio Frequency Identification is technology which uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to automatically identify objects embedded with RFI tags when they come close to a reader – for example: tracking mobile assets within a hospital.
T T&A (Time and Attendance)
Time and Attendance is the process of tracking the hours that employees have worked and covers a range of methods, from manual timecards and punch clocks to automated biometric solutions.
W WFM (Workforce Management)
Workforce Management is a wide range of process used to track, measure, analyse, manage and optimise employee performance from the moment they enter an organisation, to the moment they leave it – including scheduling, payroll and training. WfMC (Workflow Management Coalition)
The Workflow Management Coalition is a global organisation of workflow vendors, users, analysts and researchers that was formed in 1993 to help define, develop and promote standards for the interoperability of workflow management systems.
The danger of using acronyms is they often leave a lot of ‘grey’ which can be subject to interpretation, but FM is complicated enough without this kind of jargon. Rather than making people guess what you mean, our advice is to keep things plain and simple.