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November 12, 2015

Choices when designing an IWMS

This blog is a summary of the chapter 'Choices when designing an IWMS?' taken from the book 'A quest for excellence: Guidance for CRE & FM executives implementing a global IWMS'. Would you like to read more? Please click here to order a free copy of Planon’s IWMS implementation guide.

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Once you have decided to move forward with an IWMS solution, many more choices await around the corner. The implementation process is a series of choices: What languages do you need to activate? Will you select one process for all or local diversity? Which key performance indicators need to be monitored? Which detail processes need to be supported?

The sheer number of choices that need to be made can be quite staggering. Using a common approach is useful in the handling of these decisions. Based on more than 15 years of international IWMS implementation experience, Planon can safely claim that trying to determine all choices from the outset is generally unsuccessful. It is simply too hard to foresee all of the major and minor consequences of these decisions.

Instead, Planon recommends the “project goal filter.” This allows decisions to be channeled through the IWMS project goals, even if these goals are not written down in detail at the start of the implementation. The trick is to constantly, consciously realize that the project goals are derived from three main ingredients, and to keep these in mind at all times:

  1. The business case: the basic “why.” Why did you decide to get an IWMS? What was the organizational business demand?
  2. The system capabilities: what functionalities are offered and deployable in your selected IWMS?
  3. Organization culture & structure: the third ingredient is often overlooked, but it is the most important for a successful implementation: what is the culture in your organization, what is the dominant structure? What is the mandate of the project owners? How is the project funding model set up? For example, is system use mandatory or voluntary on business unit level?

These factors provide direction for decisions regarding system setup choices. With these goals as overall view for the project, there is no need for an overall design right from the start.

Example: CAD integration
A classic example of this process concerns CAD Integration. CAD Integration is all about combining the graphical CAD drawing information of your buildings and spaces, with the process data that is managed in the IWMS. The question is: Do the CAD files need to be integrated with the IWMS?

When we look at the project goal filter:

  • The business case: CAD integration is cool (BIM integration even cooler), but what is the goal to be achieved? This could be related to space occupancy calculations; rent payment calculations; or supporting the move coordinators in their work.
  • The system capability: what are the CAD integration options, for displaying, printing, reporting and also for linking different drawings?
  • The culture and mandate: Creating or enhancing CAD drawings can be costly, so here the funding model plays a role, too. Does every business unit have to budget for the CAD work, or is the funding centrally allocated from the project?

CAD integration is visually strong, and often a “want.” Keep the business case
in mind, not only for the setting up but also for maintaining the CAD drawings. Costs versus value creation. (For BIM, this becomes even more important.)

But this is only one of many decisions to be made.

Summarizing the project goal filter for dealing with choices
The project goal filter will help you make choices. When the stakeholders in the implementation project are aligned on the business case, culture, mandate, and funding structure, the project manager and subject matter experts will be fully capable of making numerous design decisions, which the sponsors are likely to understand and agree to.

It is rarely possible to foresee each last detail of all upcoming choices at the beginning of an IWMS implementation, especially in multinational projects. When this is acknowledged as a fact, rather than ignored as an undesirable complication, the project team can prepare and propose decisions along the way.

In the realm of IWMS implementations, we do not yet have a long history of shared experience - but we are catching up: there are best practices, in which a fair portion of the choices have been already made for you. You can review these and adjust where necessary, rather than start from scratch.  We strongly recommend using a best practice based approach to IWMS implementations to ensure a good focus on the relevant choices.

Koos van Rij
Services Director Planon Central Europe