Board with numbers

More than numbers: Understanding the value of an IWMS

If you have done some investigation into calculating the ROI of an IWMS in the past, 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 improving space use 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 went as deeply as they did and into as many issues as they did.

A lot of the issues that Verdantix covers were not even topics back when Gartner did their research. In 2005, there was no discussion of energy management or the potential of room booking tools or the savings from service provider outsourcing or IT staff reduction – because SaaS wasn’t even a thing yet. If you are interested in a high-quality analysis of how to create a numbers-based business case for IWMS,

Can you calculate an ROI on collaboration?

However, there is one aspect of the IWMS discussion that I thought was missing from the Verdantix report. In my mind, the value proposition around an IWMS has always been interdepartmental 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 and new silk wallpaper and new ceiling grid and tiles. And then the maintenance department would come and ask why we put in the new ceiling because they needed to replace assets in the ceiling in six months and would have to tear out the grid to do the work. Or IT would come and say they were re-cabling that part of the building and they would need to tear out the silk wallpaper.

My favorite 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 dressed 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 to 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 digitalization 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.

Be sure an IWMS is included in that future.

About the author

David Karpook | Interim Product Marketing Director

A 25-year RE & FM industry veteran, David has been a customer, vendor and system implementer, trainer and strategist, managing workplace technology projects around the world. David is chair of OSCRE International, a standards body for the real estate industry. As an active member of IFMA and 2016 Associate Member of the Year, he is the chair of IFMA's Real Estate Advisory & Leadership community (REAL), and a member of the IFMA Foundation's Global Workforce Initiative.

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