Board with numbers

More than numbers: Understanding the value of an IWMS

If you have previously researched how to calculate the ROI of an IWMS, you may have come across a 2005 report from Gartner titled “Bolster your Return on Investment with Integrated Workplace Management Systems.” It provides some general numbers that can be used as benchmarks, such as how improving space usage can reduce annual facilities costs by 10% to 15% per year.

It has been 13 years since this research by Gartner, which is why I was excited to read the new report by Verdantix titled “The Business Case for Integrated Workplace Management Systems.” I was impressed by the Verdantix research, specifically that they covered a wide range of issues in depth.

Many of the topics that Verdantix covers were not even on the agenda when Gartner did their research. In 2005, there was no discussion of energy management, the potential of room booking tools, the savings from service provider outsourcing or IT staff reduction – because SaaS wasn’t even heard of.

If you are interested in a high-quality analysis of how to create a numbers-based business case for IWMS,

Can you calculate the ROI of collaboration?

However, there is one aspect of the IWMS discussion that I felt was missing from the Verdantix report. In my mind, the value proposition around an IWMS has always been inter-departmental cooperation and conflict resolution.

Here’s one scheduling example from my time as a facility manager at the University of Florida. A typical project might involve renovating a doctor’s office, putting in new carpet, new wallpaper and new ceiling grid and tiles. And then the maintenance department would ask why we put in the new ceiling because they needed to replace assets in the ceiling in six months time and would have to tear out the grid to do the work. Or IT would say they were re-cabling that part of the building and they would need to remove the wallpaper.

My favourite personal example was when I was staying at a hotel in Chicago and they glued me into my hotel room - they came and tore up the carpet in the hallway while I was getting ready for an important business meeting.

These things happen. They are facility management issues. But an IWMS forces more conversations between departments; it encourages collaboration to help avoid these scenarios. While this value is hard to calculate, Verdantix does suggest one way of including it in a business case.

Align with other corporate goals

As the Verdantix report mentions, one important aspect of a strong business case for IWMS is to include the role that it will play in larger corporate goals, such as a digitalisation strategy or a drive to be more sustainable.

One of the ways our lives have been transformed in the 21st century is by exponentially expanding the number of connections that we have, but reducing the quality of those connections. Despite this reduction in quality, collaboration is the focus of the future.

Make sure an IWMS is included in that future.

Portrait of David Karpook.

About the author

David Karpook | Director Business Development, Strategic Consultant

A 30-year industry veteran, Dave Karpook has been a customer, vendor, system implementer, trainer and strategist, managing workplace technology projects globally. Prior to joining Planon in 2015, he served as president and CEO of Bricsnet, and has held senior management positions at Trimble Navigation, Tririga, and Peregrine Systems. Dave speaks frequently at industry events, and is a member of IFMA’s Audit Committee, past chairman of IFMA’s Real Estate Advisory & Leadership community, and former chairman of the board of OSCRE International.

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