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October 15, 2015

An Introduction to IWMS

This blog summarizes the chapter 'An introduction to IWMS' taken from the book 'A quest for excellence: Guidance for CRE & FM executives implementing a global IWMS'. Find out more and click here to download the complete chapter. 

The field of Facilities Management (FM) and Corporate Real Estate Management (CRE) has evolved rapidly over the last two decades. Today’s Facilities Management and Real Estate managers face an increasing need to respond to the evolution of technology and sustainability, ensure compliance, and increase cost efficiency. 

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Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) are software that combine real estate, space planning, maintenance, project management, and sustainability.

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In this realm, there is an obvious need for reliable information and communication on a strategic, tactical, and operational level. This information is required to analyze actual occupancy, identify future vacancies, and benchmark the performance of facilities.

The history of Integrated Workplace Management Systems
In the early nineties, software for Facilities Management and Corporate Real Estate Management focused on registering base data, technical assets, and CAD designs to support Space Management. In 2000, focus turned to business process support to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Introduction of workflow management and the need for management information drove more changes in software. In addition, the prevalence of the internet has pushed this evolution. 

The term “Integrated Workplace Management System” (IWMS) was first used in 2004 by Gartner, the leading technology research institute which evaluates and reports on software and technology markets. IWMS is defined by Gartner as an enterprise-class software platform that integrates key components in five functional domains, operated from a single technology platform and database repository. These domains are:

  • Real Estate and Lease Management
  • Facilities and Space Management
  • Asset & Maintenance Management
  • Project Management
  • Environmental Sustainability

The abbreviation IWMS begins with the word “Integrated.” But what does this mean? According to Gartner, the definition of integrated includes: a single technology platform, a single data repository, and supporting five functional components.

Today’s IWMS offerings mainly target the latter aspect of “integrated” by offering functionality in the business domains listed above. However, as a result of mergers and product acquisitions, many of these solutions are not compliant with the first two parts of the definition. Solutions that are truly based on a single platform and single data repository have specific benefits:

  • Lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  • Best cross-functional integration resulting in reliable management information
  • Consistency and ease of use, analysis, and access

What measurable benefits can you get from an IWMS?
Cost transparency and efficiency, in most cases aiming at cost reduction, are key drivers for any IWMS implementation, but there are other measurable benefits to build your business case:

  • Customer satisfaction: analyze the effects of both process and quality improvements with automated customer surveys to increase customer satisfaction
  • Vendor analysis: analyze the performance of vendors over time, based on SLA’s (service level agreements), customer feedback, etc. to improve your sourcing strategy
  • Process efficiency: analyze throughput times, number of failures, time spent, favorite services, etc. to increase output and value
  • Workplace efficiency: analyze the occupancy and effective use of both space and workplaces across your portfolio to improve alignment with the business
  • Portfolio transparency: analyze and report financial portfolio metrics, ownerships, leases, etc. to ensure compliance with local and global legislation

Bringing it all together
In many organizations, FM and CRE data is spread across different spreadsheets, IT systems, or locked in the minds of staff. The quality and accuracy of this data is dubious and owing to the fragmentation of its sources, it is impossible to generate any type of useful management information across multiple disciplines. When this data is brought together in a structured “single-source-of-truth,” an integrated software solution can be used for continuous identification and execution of cost efficiency and quality improvement initiatives.

Bram Aarntzen
Former Business Consultant Planon Netherlands