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November 08, 2018

Managing expectations when implementing space management software

As an Implementation Consultant at Planon, I am responsible for implementing Planon’s software for our customers. To ensure a successful implementation and to ensure our customer can maximize their use of our software, it is my job to advise and guide them on best practices. However, at the end of the day, the decision is ultimately the customer’s to make. However, there are some key questions that customers should ask and answer before starting implementation to ensure they have a smooth-running project and swift implementation.

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Below, you’ll find some questions that I regularly ask myself and the customers I work with. I find that, having clear answers to these can help you in making your implementation project a success.

Do you have a workplace strategy?

Most questions I use during a space management implementation project start with “why.” And the most important one is “Why do you actually want space management software?” This questions is very important for me, as the Implementation Consultant, to understand your drive and priorities. A key thing for your organization to have in place is a workplace strategy. A workplace strategy allows you to set clear goals and objectives, both short term and long term. Having the strategy defined, aids internal organization alignment and becomes much easier for me to understand your objectives and help you achieve them. These goals should not be standalone but are ideally derived from your corporate strategy. For example, if one of your organization’s goals is to cut costs, your focus should be on analyzing space usage in order to use spaces more efficiently or to find opportunities to remove them altogether. However, if your business is growing, you need to analyze how you can best utilize or even expand your current space, all based on your organizational demands.

What sort of data should you be collecting?

There is a lot of space data that is relevant for different areas -  people and assets can both be assigned to areas or locations, issues usually occur within a location and a request almost always starts with ‘where’ the requestor is. Therefore, having the basics of space management in place is fundamental for all areas of your business. For organizations that don’t use a central solution, data is usually stored in different locations, using different formats such as Excel sheets or using multiple, unrelated systems. When starting an implementation, it is very important to know how to get access to all this data.  The question that usually follows this is “how standardized is your data?” This covers all aspects of your data. Take a simple example; what we call “first floor” in the United States is a different level than what we call a “first floor” in Europe. While the values may be the same they may not mean the same, and this is vital information about your data that you will need in order to standardize it. You also need to question whether the data you are collecting is still relevant. Does it really support you in achieving your goals? For example, knowing the walls of a specific meeting room are painted orange is unlikely to be particularly relevant if you’re looking to analyze utilization. Does it cost you more time to collect and keep this data updated than the benefits storing this information would bring to your organization? The same goes for your reporting. Does that report in Excel that you have been using for many years really bring value? Maybe a different format or delivery method, such as a dashboard would be a much better alternative, giving consideration to the purpose and audience of that report. Ask yourself what sort of data and reporting are relevant in order for you to achieve your goals. My advice is to keep things simple and work on standardizing your data. Get your foundation right and then you can build from there.

Are processes defined, followed and still helpful?

Many organizations have an understanding of the way they are operating or have an idea of the way they would like to in the future. However, not every organization has determined a clear process of how to deal with their spaces. For instance: Charging back costs. Do you charge back costs based on the size of a space or based on its allocation? Having clarity about your processes is necessary before an implementation project can start. Remember, even if an organization has defined a process already, this does not always mean people follow it. Therefore, do not only define a process, also ensure it is used and understood properly. Last, but not least, dare to question the status quo. “Are the ways that you are currently dealing with your processes still the right way to do it and not just the way you have been doing things for years?” Especially in relation to space management, which has evolved so much over the years with the introduction of topics such as agile working and activity-based working. Maybe this is the perfect time to review and update your processes.

Is your organization aware of the benefits the implementation brings?

When starting an implementation process, ensure you communicate this with your internal stakeholders. Not only are these the people that provide valuable feedback, they are also the end-users of the tools that make use of space data, such as a room booking panel or an app to find a free workspace. By getting your employees enthusiastic about the project you are working on from the very beginning, showing them the true benefits of implementing space management software, you will ensure your project has support throughout the entire organization, which helps to improve acceptance.

I hope these questions help you to further optimize your business. If you want to learn more about effective space management, I recommend that you watch the webinar we recently did together with Verdantix or download our white paper.

Mark McBride
Implementation Consultant Planon