Real Estate and Facility Managers are often looking for innovative solutions to optimise their business operations. It is extremely important that they thoroughly understand what they are buying into over the long term to be able to make the right choices. Within the field of real estate and facilities, a prominent solution is an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). It has many advantages over the use of standalone software for specific business operations.
As I already mentioned in a previous blog, Verdantix – an independent research and consulting firm with a focus on innovative technologies that optimise business operations – recently published the research report ‘Real Estate IT Strategies: IWMS, Point Solutions, And Everything In Between’ . This report analyses the four major real estate and facility management IT strategies that organisations are leveraging today. One of these strategies is the use of a single integrated solution like IWMS. In this blog I would like to express my thoughts about what a true IWMS is and discuss its key organisational benefits.
What is an IWMS?
To understand how an IWMS can add value to your business, it is important to first get a good grasp of what an IWMS does and to know how it fits into the field of enterprise software solutions. An IWMS is a software platform that can be used across the entire organisation for real estate and facilities management purposes. Within this system important information can be captured, managed, and reported to optimise facility operations. It helps your workforce manage real estate portfolios and workplace related services more efficiently. It supports multiple business operations including: leases, capital projects, facility and space utilisation, workplace services, maintenance, energy and sustainability management. Having all these areas supported by one single software platform offers multiple benefits.
What are the key benefits of an IWMS?
There are many different benefits of an IWMS, not only for real estate and facility executives, but also for the organisation as a whole. Here I highlight four of them:
- Improved data quality. An IWMS replaces standalone solutions with a single system, becoming ‘the single source of truth’. This improves data quality control and consistency. The IWMS can be integrated with other applications in your IT landscape to eliminate redundancy and differences.
- Lower IT support costs. An IWMS simplifies your IT infrastructure because it eliminates standalone or legacy systems and makes sure the same version is used across the organisation. Therefore, application managers have fewer systems to maintain and can update and upgrade the software centrally. It makes their work easier, more effective and more productive.
- Process standardisation. With the use of pre-configured workflows based on best practices you can standardise processes, moving away from situations where multiple solutions and applications rule. It ensures continuous alignment and improved communication between business domains during the entire lifetime of the software.
- Better decision making. An IWMS offers you an integrated view and therefore a more complete understanding of your real estate and workplace portfolio. It combines information about the real estate portfolio, spaces, assets, maintenance and services activities, and so on. This not only helps you to react faster, but also to plan ahead.
It turns out that corporate real estate and facilities executives are becoming increasingly aware of the large number of advantages. Of the 300 real estate and facility management executives from large organisations across the globe that were interviewed for Verdantix’s research report 59% plan to manage their data through solutions that offer broad functionality - including IWMS. Only 11% plan to use a 'best of breed' strategy by buying point solutions from multiple vendors.
Taking a step back: what are my goals?
Now that you have a better understanding of what an IWMS is and the potential benefits, it is important to be clear about the specific goals you have for an IWMS within your organisation. What is the main reason you are considering implementing an IWMS? As a real estate or facility manager the strategic objectives you are most likely responsible for can be divided into five main categories:
- Improving productivity
- Ensuring business continuity
- Improving employee satisfaction
- Ensuring compliance
- Reducing operational costs
What is often observed in the market is that real estate and facilities organisations are forced to operate in such a way that these goals are difficult to achieve. Most of the time this is related to having badly maintained databases in several standalone information systems, leading to decision making that is far from optimal. This leads to an isolated and blinkered way of working, meaning that processes are hard to follow.
Taking a step forward: what’s next?
An IWMS can help to overcome these hurdles and to achieve each of the five strategic objectives mentioned above. In my next blog, I will briefly go through the experiences of Gasunie, King’s College London, and Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC), illustrating the added value of implementing an IWMS. This series of two blog posts can be an inspiration for you in your quest for the right automated approach for real estate and facility management.
Can’t wait for the next blog to figure out how an IWMS can improve the real estate and facilities management processes in your organisation? Get started now and explore key benefits, use cases, and capabilities of a true IWMS in our white paper ‘What is IWMS?’.