The subject of terminology and acronyms seems to be coming up a lot lately. As we create a glossary, write blog articles and read what others have written is clear that there is some confusion in the industry as to the meaning of certain terms, their use and where they fit on the food chain. We recently ran across a good post from Steven Hanks of IWMSnews about “Why EAMCMMS, CAFM, FMIS, FMIS, CIFM, CIFM, IWMS IWMS   ,and Other Acronyms Are Confusing.” After you read his post below we have some additional points to clarify EAM and Maintenance Management.

IWMS Post by S. Hanks

One of the most popular posts On IWMSNews is about the usage of acronyms to describe a software solution for managing facility and real estate processes. In addition to that, I receive a lot of questions about all different acronyms and their meaning. Apparently these acronyms are confusing people.

Most questions are either about solving a functional problem, or about clarification of the acronyms.

I have listed two of the most common questions below.

These questions are very legitimate questions as in most cases substantial investment is involved, and people don’t want to be sacked for making a bad investment.

So how can we help those people?

Let’s take a look at the origin of these acronyms.

According to Marty Chobot (FM:Systems)

Functional disciplines in facilities and real estate departments have been siloed. As a result, each discipline has had a category of software (and acronyms) developed around it – space and occupancy management (CAFM and some vendor specific variations on that term), maintenance (CMMSEAM), project management (currently IPD), portfolio management and lease administration (sometimes called REPM).

According to Andy Fuhrman (former CEO of OSCRE):

In the early days of CAFM we were integrating these applications that contained modules for Space Planning & Forecasting, Move Management, Maintenance Management, Cable/IT Management, Equipment Asset Management and some.

I totally agree with the above statements that functional silos and integration challenges have been the fundamental drivers of the development of acronyms to describe a facility management solution.

To standout from their competition, vendors and business analysts have created all kinds of acronyms (EAMCMMS , CAFMFMISCIFMIWMS and others), that instead of clarify, only confuse people.

To help all confused people I’ll try to explain this. As a picture is worth a thousand words, I have created a graph about the current acronyms and their relation with the functional silos.

Although the Enterprise resource planning (ERP) market has consolidated acronyms to one widely accepted acronym, our industry apparently still isn’t mature enough to do so.

We therefore consider consolidation of acronyms one of our challenges for 2010, and we gladly invite you to participate in that challenge. I would love to hear your thoughts!

What can We Learn From This?

Steve Hanks is very correct in his assessment that there isn’t one solution that fits all needs. It should also be noted that each solution such as EAMCMMSCAFM etc. has continued to evolve in scope over the last few years and will continue to change in the coming years. As these solutions continue to change we believe you can expect more confusion not less.

For instance when we speak of EAM systems we include the entire asset life-cycle from planning to purchase to maintenance and ultimately the assets retirement. Some of the components involved include contracts, document management, work management and capital asset planning. In this context, maintenance management is now a subset of EAM opposite of the diagram above.

In summary, purchasing decisions should be based upon the pain that is being addressed not by the acronym or naming convention. What are your thoughts?