This blog is a summary of the chapter 'An introduction to IWMS' taken from the book 'A quest for excellence: Guidance for CRE & FM executives implementing a global IWMS'. Would you like to read more? Download here the rest of the chapter.
The challenges for international businesses when deciding to carry out an international software implementation are great. These types of projects will encompass multiple sites, multiple countries, and therefore multiple cultures, specific legislations and local business customs add fundamental challenges to the project. Therefore the question “Why did we embark this international implementation project?” will pop up many times during the project.
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An easy answer would be “We want to make sure we are providing adequate building services at a good price worldwide”. However, the definition of “adequate” and “a good price” differs between organisations. While there are significant variances between businesses, there are also significant similarities in business considerations. These similarities are gathered into the following five areas.
1. Governance: Many international organisations want to implement organization-wide policies to be consistent and be able to say unitedly “This is how we do things”. Local habits and cultures may profoundly influence how practices are structured and these will differ fundamentally between sites if left unattended. Organisations are carefully deciding on the level of governance implemented through the processes as defined worldwide.
2. Business compliance: “Compliance” encompasses the desired results of “governance” with the added element of legislation. Organisations need to comply with (local) government regulations as well as self-imposed standards. This adds more complexity as most legal regulations are local and therefore different for each country or region.
The strongest need for compliance revolves around financials. There are increasingly stringent regulations emerging that impact international organisations specifically. Prominent examples are regulations governing traceability (Sarbanes Oxley) and lease accounting (FASB/IASB). Another dominant area of compliance is in sustainability, for example LEED or BREEAM-type certifications. Other factors include internal financial reporting, security standards and business agility.
3. Business transparency: Many organisations start with setting up goals such as “we want to build an accurate record of assets we own and use” and “we want to establish uniform and comparable reporting from all our sites.” An often implicitly expressed goal behind international IWMS roll-outs is the desire to establish an information framework which allows for unified reporting of activities, allowing for analysis of the differences between sites, and providing information for decision making units. This can result in effective benchmarking between sites and extended to benchmarking between peers in the industry.
4. IT rationalisation and innovation: IT rationalisation refers to the processes of improving IT services at the lowest possible total cost possible. Most international organisations that start an IWMS roll-out aim to reduce the number of existing CMMS and CAFM systems in operation. Reduction simplifies the information systems landscape and therefore IT operation cost.
There is an increasing focus on interactions with other systems, such as financial systems, purchasing systems or HRM systems. It is the case with the implementation of other business information systems, the goal here is to improve overall efficiency by limiting the number of interfaces.
5. Financials: An IWMS will play out positively in terms of financial returns. Increased governance and transparency in property portfolio, vendors portfolio and service providers enable organisations to rationalise and implement cost efficiencies. The information infrastructure established forms the basis for new projects, helping to focus on the most needed or urgent matters to be addressed.