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January 12, 2017

Point Solution or Integrated Solution | Four different perspectives

In my previous blog, I explained some important differences between Point Solutions and Integrated Solutions for Facility and Real Estate Management. However, knowing the differences isn’t enough. Different challenges need different solutions. In this blog I will take a look at point solutions and integrated solutions from four different perspectives to help you choose what suits your organization’s long term goals and reduces the risks of failure during implementation and operation.

White Paper - Point Solutions or Integrated Solution: Important Differences

What are the real differences between a specialized point solution and more integrated software handling all aspects of real estate and facility management?

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1. VP of Facilities and Real Estate: Process Improvement Through Integration

Transparency in processes, service level agreements, compliant reporting, financial forecasting, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have become accepted best practices in any professional FM and RE organization. All these best practices have one important element in common: they are cross-functional and exceed the traditional departmental boundaries and disciplines.

If these are supported by one integrated solution, all stakeholders are connected in one automated workflow with access to the same consistent data. The process is continuously monitored and potential deviations can be alerted in time. In the case of multiple point solutions, each step of the process needs manual or automated data exchange with another point solution, increasing processing times and the risk of failure. In that case, it is hardly possible to monitor and control the entire process as it is fragmented across multiple point solutions.

2. Facilities employees and technicians: one interface for all end users

A key prerequisite for any successful software implementation is end user acceptance. People need to easily find their way through the system, and the software solution needs to help them in their daily work. Several departments may have already implemented their own point solutions in the past and end users have learned to find their way; they have become true specialists and product advocates. Indeed, this is a benefit of point solutions, but it’s limited to a single department or team using the software.

Integrated solutions have a more universal approach toward end users. Once people understand the user interaction for one function, they can apply that knowledge to all processes within the software. The solution operates in a consistent and recognizable way. 

Point Solutions or Integrated Solution - Important differences

3. IT: Fewer software systems to maintain

In general, IT departments prefer to reduce the number of installed software solutions. As each individual software solution has its own specific IT requirements, release policies, and support windows, typically IT departments prefer the concept of one integrated solution. In many projects, the business case for implementing an integrated FM and RE solution is even based on reducing the number of existing point solutions and their associated costs.

As integrated solutions use one single source of information, complex data interfaces are not necessary. Having one database for all FM and RE information dramatically eases the maintenance of data, ensures consistency and data quality, and supports better reporting and more extensive analyses.

4. Finance: Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

For many organizations, quantifying software benefits in terms of money, resources, time savings, quality, agility, and compliance improvements is an exhausting exercise. Business case practices show that demonstrating benefits for an integrated solution is easier and more obvious when compared to point solutions. By nature, integrated solutions deliver more transparency, more control, and more reliable information.

But what about investment? The price for one specific point solution is lower when compared to a complete integrated solution. As most integrated solutions offer modular setups, these price differences become smaller when only comparing the applicable processes.

Recommendations

If there is only one fragmented problem to solve, a point solution is obviously a very good way to move forward quickly.

However, when more processes are in scope, an integrated solution beats a series of combined point solutions from all perspectives: more transparency, more control, and more information‒all for less money and effort.

Jos Knops
Director Global Product Marketing