What is IWMS?

Integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) can help an organization with facilities management, project management, and real estate lifecycle management.

Integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) software solutions are applications that integrate multiple software platforms. They help workplaces optimize facilities management, capital project management, facilities maintenance, real estate lifecycle management, and resource management. There are important implementation steps that should be followed for all IWMS solutions, and finding the right IWMS solution is a matter of analyzing data needs, UI, and possible consolidation of other applications.

Leading tech researchers Gartner first used the phrase “integrated workplace management system” in 2004 to describe an enterprise-class program that could manage several functional areas. The concept of integration, as described by Gartner, is “a single technology platform, a single data repository”. The rise of the internet in the late 90s and early 2000s made integration and such platforms even more possible—and even more crucial.

Ideal IWMS software integrates a series of functional areas within a workplace that were initially not combined or working simultaneously, but now serve as areas that crucially need to work together.

Facilities management

This refers to operations and maintenance of workplace facilities, including management of employee service, move management, resource scheduling, computer-aided design, building information modeling, and space management. Floor plans or other maps can be readily available in an easy to understand view for any necessary analysis or information gathering. The Internet of Things (IoT) can also provide sensors to product data on occupancy and analyze possible space occupation and any ideal changes in cost.

Capital project management

Capital project management typically involves the design and implementation of building expansions or renovations, facilities replacement, and blueprints, all of which are coordinated on an IWMS to support design, capital management, cost, procurement, scheduling, bidding, critical path analysis, and documentation.

Facilities maintenance

It is crucial to keep building occupants comfortable and safe. Facilities must be maintained, and IWMS solutions can maintain a database of necessary information like maintenance requests, inventory, vendors, warranties, work orders, and associated costs. Preventative maintenance can also be analyzed and applied to prevent more expensive future costs. Occupants can submit requests through a self-service portal, at which point facilities maintainers can prioritize requests.

IoT systems are being integrated into IWMS platforms, which can anticipate maintenance needs and provide real time monitoring of facilities and associated assets.

Facilities/maintenance service ticket

Real estate lifecycle management

Real estate management demands combined data sets about managed properties, including square footage, costs, assets, lease terms, and occupancy. Management of real estate in an IWMS provides a visualization for different spaces for the purpose of showcasing the space, and keeping record of the different options and layouts available—this enables communication between potential and current tenants, as well as anybody else interacting with the property including maintenance and outside contractors.

An IWMS can also manage information in the event of an acquisition, needed portfolio management, lease management, accounting, and tax management.

Resource management

Businesses have been trending toward more sustainable practices, and IWMS software is accommodating. Facilities are capable of measuring, analyzing, and reducing consumption of resources and waste—examples include use of water, energy, and emission of greenhouse gases. IWMS allows facility management to take advantage of features to increase sustainable practices, gather performance metrics, and plan better energy management.

Facilities managers can also log and track goalposts using data collection and automated reports that can indicate whether or not goals are being met, and whether or not goals need to be more realistically adjusted. Goals can provide a wider view of sustainability practices and help workplaces grow their understanding of their all around consumption. IoT has also played into facilities management, as smart sensors can adjust anything from lighting to adjustment of temperature based on usage, detection of environment, and occupancy of the space.

An integrated workplace management system can effectively act as a single access point for different software platforms. IWMS platforms can also act as an excellent tool to streamline workflows among and between teams, which aids in all-around operation optimization and assists existing IT systems.

Teams are incredibly valuable when there are several capabilities rolled into a single system that provides multiple capabilities. Fewer software platforms can eliminate roadblocks and reduce the chance of downtime as well as holes or redundancies in features. Useful systems, like IWMS, can streamline processes, reduce costs, and deliver unique insights using superior reporting systems that can support goals, analysis, and informed decision making.

Businesses and organizations can see a potential return on investment when they utilize a unified, like ServiceNow’s workplace service delivery solution.

A proper IWMS implementation strategy is crucial to success across the workplace and the different functional systems. There are important considerations and identifications of needs.

Identify team

Take the time to identify the necessary team members, based on known resource needs, for your implementation and ongoing use of the IWMS software. The ideal construction of work groups are smaller functional groups that work in tandem to streamline implementation processes—communication is still necessary, but there will be fewer hands along each stage of the process.

Identify needs

The implementation process has a series of necessary needs that should be identified both preemptively and as the process progresses. There are several opportunities that could be taken that would streamline the processes, while also using connected workflows that are currently being utilized. Take the time to identify resources that are readily available, and resources that may be needed in the present and in the future.

Any alterations in IT processes are also necessary—this includes possible physical infrastructure changes, any changes in cloud computing, and any IT systems that are adequate for the transition.

Identify goals

Long term and short term goals are crucial during all phases of implementation. You must consider the types of data you intend to gather and store, what the data will tell you, and how you intend to use that data. Once those standards are outlined, start setting goals. A few possible goals could be team milestones during the rollout of the IWMS programs, the timeline of IT infrastructure changes as needed, and the milestones for the gathering of data along the process.

Consideration

You’ve identified needs, including resources and goals. Various considerations are necessary. First, consider the extent to which IT systems need to be extended and integrated to support the IWMS software. Think of the cost options for implementation and changes that could support the IWMS software infrastructure. Consider the additional software systems that would be needed to implement and continually support the IWMS and associated costs. Ruminate on possible process optimization for the initial and future rollouts of the IWMS and how it will affect current and possible future processes.

Phase implementation

It is usually advisable to implement IWMS and upgrades in phases. Upgrades typically target a certain area and are created to improve processes or patch something within the system.

There is a lot to consider when selecting an IWMS system, including capabilities for integration, UI, usability, and quality.

User interface (high-quality, intuitive, easy to use)

Software can be exceptional, but a lack of usable user interface can detract from experience and quality. IWMS software is no exception. Think hard about the quality of the software—consider whether or not it has a lot of flaws or bugs, and the degree to which it provides the quality experience, presentation, usability, data gathering, and data reporting that your workplace demands. It is also important to look into whether or not the UI can be easily understood by all types of users all across the organization and has a strong degree of intuition for new users.

Integration capability

Complete platform migration can lead to data loss, frustration, and failure. An ideal IWMS can integrate with other platforms that are in use to create a holistic experience in a single platform for a better user experience while still utilizing the features of other platforms that are useful to organizations.

Digital workflows can break down silos across organizations. Flow designing becomes possible, which includes codeless automated workflows, accelerated IT development, integrated services, and specific flow actions for all around productivity and organization that are ideal for greater success and fulfillment of necessary requirements.

Computer aided facility management (CAFM) software tends to focus on a singular view of space and asset management—fully optimized for facility management and a degree of integration with workplace service requests. This would be ideal for smaller businesses and facilities that don’t need more complex management software and tend to only maintain services and track requests. CAFM programs also tend to extend over multiple platforms rather than a single platform.

IWMS solutions are ideal for larger and enterprise level organizations that oversee more than a few areas of management. These systems exist on a single platform that helps with request management, planning out ideal strategies, managing energy and resources, capital projects, real estate, lease management, and facilities maintenance.

The future of IWMS will involve evolution to meet the ever increasing expectations of leaders and organizations—just as there was an acceleration of expectations during the early days of the internet, now there will be even higher expectations as tech develops and deploys from all directions. Technology is currently focused on developing platforms that are cloud compatible, mobile, accessible, and connected with IoT devices. IoT devices in particular are experiencing a rise in relevance and availability, and their applicability is increasingly more important for IWMS users—especially for gathering automated and smart data from smart devices.

There is also a strong demand for more intuitive user interfaces that can offer all of the necessary features without difficulty or too much wading through pages and links. Ideally, IWMS platforms will evolve with ever changing interfaces and methods for gathering data, no matter how complex. IWMS platforms will become more scalable, sleek, flexible, and full of possibilities.

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