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October 22, 2015

Why implement an IWMS? – 5 reasons

This blog is a summary of the chapter 'An introduction to IWMS' taken from the book 'A quest for excellence: Guidance for CRE & FM executives implementing a global IWMS'. Would you like to read more? Download here the rest of the chapter.

The challenges for international businesses when deciding to carry out an international software implementation are great. These types of projects will encompass multiple sites, multiple countries, and therefore multiple cultures, specific legislation and local business customs adds fundamental challenges to the project. As a consequence, the question: “Why did we embark this international implementation project?” will pop up multiple times during the project.

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An easy answer on this would be “We want to make sure we are providing adequate building services at a good price worldwide”. However, the definition of “adequate” and “a good price” differs between organizations. While there are significant variances between businesses, there are also significant similarities in business considerations. These similarities are clustered into five viewpoints.

1.      Governance: Many international organizations want to implement organization-wide policies, to say: “This is how we do things”. Local habits and cultures may profoundly influence how practices are structured and these will differ fundamentally between sites if left unattended. Organizations are carefully deciding on the level of governance implemented through the processes as defined worldwide.

2.      Business compliance: “Compliance” encompasses the desired results of “governance” with the added element of legislation. Organizations need to comply with (local) government regulations as well as self-imposed standards. This adds more complexity, because most legal regulations are local and therefore different for each country or region.

The strongest need for compliance revolves around financials. There are increasingly stringent regulations emerging that impact international organizations specifically. Prominent examples are regulations governing traceability (Sarbanes Oxley) and lease accounting (FASB/IASB). Another dominant area of compliance is in sustainability, in example LEED or BREEAM-type certifications. Other factors include internal financial reporting, security standards and business agility.

3.      Business transparency: Many organizations start with goals, such as “we want to build an accurate record of assets we own and use” and “we want to establish uniform and comparable reporting from all our sites.” An often implicitly expressed goal behind international IWMS roll-outs is the desire to establish an information framework which allows for unified reporting of activities, allowing for analysis of the differences between sites, and providing information for decision making. This can result in effective benchmarking between sites, and extended to benchmarking with industry peers.

4.      IT rationalization and innovation: IT rationalization refers to the processes of improving IT services at the lowest possible total cost. Most international organizations that start an IWMS roll-out aim to reduce the number of existing CMMS and CAFM systems in operation. Reduction simplifies the information systems landscape and therefore IT operation cost.

There is an increasing focus on interactions with other systems, such as financial systems, purchasing systems or HRM systems. As is the case with the implementation of other business information systems, the goal here is to improve overall efficiency by limiting the number of interfaces.

5.      Financials: An IWMS will play out positively in terms of financial returns. Increased governance and transparency in property portfolio, vendors portfolio and service providers enable organizations to rationalize and implement cost efficiencies. The information infrastructure as established forms the basis for new projects, helping to focus them on the most needed or urgent (waste) matters to be addressed.

Erik Jaspers
Global Product Strategy  & Innovation Director