The Benefits of Incorporating an Integrated Workplace Management System
Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) combine maintenance and space management functions with corporate real estate, project management, employee services functions and facility assets management. Once fully implemented, an IWMS can act as the ultimate multi-tasking agent—providing solutions to geographically diverse problems—saving time, costs and headaches.
Larry Barkley, managing director at Barkley Advisory Group, LLC in Chicago, has over 25 years of experience in corporate real estate as a senior real estate and information systems consultant. He says the true value of IWMS comes only with full implementation of three or more of the major components of the systems.
“The benefits will grow as more functionality is brought online. As each component is added, what you wind up with is a single database upon which you can measure the performance of the overall, comprehensive facility capabilities,” he says.
IWMS perks over CMMS
Previously, Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) has dominated the facilities management field. But with a focus on only one aspect—maintenance and operation costs—CMMS has limitations. IWMS takes a more comprehensive approach to management; these systems combine several components like project management, real estate, construction management, space management, space planning, and a wide range of ancillary services like workflow management, documentation management and collaboration.
“The two systems are fundamentally different in their approach,” Barkley says. “They differ in terms of how they view the niches in the market.”
Joe Valeri, president of Lucernex Technologies, a commercial real estate software development company based in Plano, Texas, believes facilities managers can benefit from the implementation of IWMS.
“With IWMS, the work order is better,” Valeri explains. “For example, if you've got a piece of equipment in the cafeteria of an office building that needs to be fixed, you can create a new work order and send it out, and you'll know exactly who's supposed to fix it and where the vendor is in the country and, you'll have it [all] in one spot,” he says.
The system also can address emerging concerns in today's markets, such as alternate workplace strategies and sustainability.
“As Generation X and Generation Y enter the workplace, they aren't typically looking for a cubicle to work in. They are more comfortable in collaborative spaces or working remotely. The demographic change in the marketplace is driving the need for more information on how to manage that space in different forms,” Barkley says. “Much more sophisticated systems are needed.”
IWMS can track utilization, measure it and allow for adjustments in energy savings, which is a huge plus in today's cost-cutting market.
A spreading influence
Several industries are benefitting from the switch to IWMS, including retail, education, banking and the general corporate sector.
“Anybody who has multiple locations will benefit from IWMS,” Valeri says. His consulting group, Lucernex, recently met with a company with multiple national and international locations that didn’t know its total number of locations, and had multiple addresses for the same location. Valeri’s group cleaned the data from all systems and uploaded it to IWMS. They then created workflows that helped track the progress of the site from the moment the real estate manager finds it until a lease is signed.
“[IWMS enables them] to track every capital project they do on every site and lets the executives see any region, country or single store’s information in one place,” he says, adding that his consulting group has saved companies millions of dollars. “IWMS can really be that dramatically impacting.”