The Benefits of Having Architectural Drawings Included in Your CMMS

Prior to the introduction of Computer Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) into the marketplace in the 1980’s, maintenance data were generally recorded manually with a pencil and paper. Since that time, a growing number of companies have chosen to trade in the pencil and paper approach for sophisticated and robust facilities management software systems. Current CMMS systems offer businesses the ability to track work orders, generate accurate reports, and receive real time notifications on which assets require preventive maintenance. This improvement has led to extended equipment lifespans, better time management and labor utilization and ultimately, reduced costs and increased profits.

Over time, the CMMS industry has continued to evolve by responding to the ever-changing needs of customer demands. Recent innovations include secure cloud based interfaces, mobile device accessibility and paperless functionality that further increases ease of use. While there is a considerable overlap between CMMS and facilities management software, it is important to note that not all software systems are the same. The disparity between the two systems becomes evident when one considers that many CMMS systems focus primarily on maintenance whereas facilities management systems generally focus on event planning, room booking and space planning. Typically, most maintenance management systems do not have floor plans integrated into their platforms. Customers seeking a more encompassing CMMS, should consider those that incorporate architectural or schematic drawings as part of its offering.

An architectural drawing is a rendering of an architectural design as plan and/or elevation views of a building or structure. Of interest to organization maintenance and management, architectural drawings also provide details within a structure – e.g., the placements of HVAC, plumbing, electrical, entrance doorways, sprinkler system etc. The benefits of including architectural drawings in a comprehensive CMMS system are outlined below:

Architectural drawings are a useful tool when it comes to planning, allocating and resourcing equipment and supplies in large organizations; particularly those with more than one facility. When multiple facilities are involved, identifying where specific items are located is made easier by viewing the schematic drawings rather than having to physically tour each facility. Moreover, when there is a need to replace a large piece of equipment and / or add large quantities of supplies within a facility, these drawings are helpful in determining appropriate space allocation. Finally, new employees can also familiarize themselves with building layouts and asset placements without having to be physically within the space.

Since CMMS databases can contain thousands of data points representing an organization’s assets and equipment, it is helpful to be able to view these as well as supply levels on an architectural drawing rather than in a spreadsheet format alone. Exact locations can be highlighted on the drawings. An integrated CMMS system can provide critical information about assets, equipment and supplies in both text and drawing formats.


Organizations, large and small, all value safety and security for their employees and their assets. Being informed and able to react to emergencies such as water and roof damage, fires, alarms (real and false) etc. require a quick response. Architectural drawings identify the locations of fire escapes and extinguishers, sprinkler systems, alarm system touch pads as well as the fastest routes out of buildings. These allocations can assist an organization in both maintenance and security measures and in doing so, save time, money, and lives.

A benefit of having architectural drawings as part of an integrated CMMS system is being able to identify the precise location of maintenance requirements. In these types of systems, work orders are highlighted on floor plans. This eliminates confusion and increases efficiency for service providers. The benefit is straightforward; zeroing in on the exact locations of repairs, inspections and supplies placement saves time and money. This is an ideal solution for large facilities.

People process information is different ways. Some people rely on auditory learning (hearing), while others rely on kinesthetic (touching) or visual learning (seeing) approaches. With respect to the latter, it is estimated that visual learners make up 40-65% of the population. According to Terry Farwell of Family, this group of people benefits most from exposure to diagrams, charts, pictures, films, and written directions. Differences in learning styles and a desire to meet the needs of all software users are important considerations when selecting a CMMS system. For example, while many maintenance software users work best using spreadsheet or text formats, other users do better with visual or schematic aids. When it comes to maintenance software systems, having architectural drawings will assist visual users to understand the bigger picture and put things into a perspective that is most meaningful to them. Given the differences in how people process information, having architectural drawings that identify an organization’s layout, specifications and assets are of great assistance to the large number of CMMS users who do best processing visually.

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This was a guest post written by Reena Sommer, PhD.