What You Need to Know – IWMS Basics
Let’s get back to basics.
We’ve mentioned integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) in many of our articles, but it’s about time we revisit what IWMS actually *is*.
A IWMS is your all-in-one office management system. From real estate to visitor tracking, IWMS makes it easy to see how every square foot of space is being used and helps you maintain it efficiently. It also plays an integral role in decision-making and future planning, improving business processes and your employee experience.
This article will cover the 101 on IWMS systems but will be sure to provide some new information for those already familiar with the term. Read on to discover what IWMS can do for you!
Key Functions of IWMS
Platforms and solutions that focus on targeting aspects of IWMS can cover a wide range of functionalities. In many cases, each business-specific solutions package has its own key functions based on the organization or business that it is deployed by.
IWMS focuses on addressing things spanning from the workplace and physical office space to real property and portfolio management, to building operations and performance metrics. Lease management, space management or planning, desk & room reservation systems, capital project management are just a handful of commonly seen functions to improve the built environment. This is then done by providing facilities and building managers with data and information to make informed decisions.
This is done through focusing on 7 core areas (like we said, there’s a lot IWMS addresses) and these 7 core areas can be broken down into more specific modules depending on the software a business chooses. For example, Archibus offers 35 different modules in their IWMS which covers any area an organization may need help in.
Space planning is emerging as a priority for office space, as occupancy rates are vastly different now than they were 3 years ago. This means that space use data is going to play an integral role in how floor plans are decided on. Common functionalities of space planning IWMS are displaying occupancy rates through sensors in the building, asset use and frequency, as well as traffic in certain areas.
Through connected systems such as desk hoteling or booking, facilities managers can see which areas are being frequented the most, by who, and which are not getting the use they expected. Following this, decisions can be made on how to effectively approach unused space so that it will better suit the organization’s needs.
Office design today has a much bigger impact on us than originally thought, and as workplace studies and workplace culture evolves, we are seeing just how important effective space management and office design can be. Now we know that space management can have a significant impact on productivity and how people interact.
Space planning covers the floor plans and physical space for employees and people, while facilities management capabilities in IWMS is focused on maintenance and building operations running smoothly. Nothing is worse than lights that need constant changing or a ventilation system that won’t work quite right in the summer.
Managing facilities means tracking outputs, maintenance requirements, incident reports, and any other mechanical needs that pertain to the lifecycle of a system. Tracking HVAC or water heating systems through a platform that can display life cycle and preventative maintenance metrics allows for action to be taken prior to extended downtimes and expensive costs for repair.
An effective maintenance protocol and facilities management practices need scheduling, planning and accountability that in the long term lowers the need for technical staff and costs for repairs that happen upon failure.
If you don’t know by now, buildings are responsible for 40% of energy usage around the world. That’s no small number, and with renewed focus on improving our relationship with the environment this should be at the top of facilities to do lists.
Energy management and IWMS are a match made in heaven, with IWMS possessing the capabilities to automate and track energy use and emissions and presenting them for analysis later. In turn, this results in systems having pre-made levels that can be set at and maintained by the IWMS that are energy efficient, and overall save money for the organization as well.
Larger portfolios and enterprise organizations with large scale operations have extensive assets to track, manage and maintain throughout the course of their life cycle. To do this effectively, a uniform solution that can record data over time as well as track inventory is a crucial tool.
Maintenance of assets will ultimately save an organization or business money if done correctly, as preventative maintenance costs less than the replacement of a failed unit or entire system. This also means keeping a running record of inventory through IWMS of other assets that may be removed or used throughout the business so as to ensure there are enough for staff to complete their jobs with.
When it comes to project management, using the right tools to track qualifications and every step of a process can make a world of difference. Project management and facilities management are not far off from one another, as both require attention to detail, organization, and pushing projects from one stage to another.
A good IWMS system such as Archibus will have a project management tool for their organization that allows for daily business operations as well as maintenance and repair projects to be handled and logged from the central platform.
Real estate, leasing, and portfolio management
Facilities management goes beyond the facilities in the building and includes the building itself, the leasing agreements, and real estate portfolios that an organization or business may hold. Managing a portfolio of several buildings such as Universities or Colleges do means that each building requires its own attention to detail regarding lease or facilities operations to make sure it continues to function as a part of the whole.
Tracking lease administration and important deadlines from a central IWMS hub gives property managers the tools they need for keeping all aspects of leasing such as benchmarking, investments, and space utilization to make sure your most significant expense is getting you the ROI you intended.
Who uses IWMS?
IWMS isn’t just for a certain industry or sector of business, every business can benefit from an IWMS platform. Healthcare, government, and education all deploy these solutions in order to elevate their experience while giving staff and clients efficient solutions to things such as room booking or making sure things such as air filters are operating properly.
Who benefits from IWMS?
Just like who uses it, who benefits of IWMS are seen by everyone throughout every organization that chooses to integrate it and are not limited to certain sectors or industries. People who work in office buildings and have no experience with facilities management can see the benefits of desk hoteling & reservation platforms as well as improved lighting and air quality systems.
Facilities managers benefit from IWMS as it makes their jobs significantly easier with more efficient tracking and data storage of information pertaining to the most vital systems. This allows for informed decision making on things such as maintenance, upgrades, and energy efficient policies for the building.
What to look for in an IWMS
One size doesn’t fit all anymore, your workplace management system should have everything that you need to cover in your building or workplace specifically. They are usually module-based or a-la-carte, giving you the option to pick and choose the functionalities to fit your office.
On-Premise vs Cloud
Here is where you make the decision to house your solution; this doesn’t impact functionality as it is merely a decision about if your business will have access to the system, or if a vendor like Horizant will handle configurations it for you.
On-premise has 2 tiers to it – Enterprise, which gives you full access to the back-end system for adjustments and any configurations usually seen used by larger companies with larger portfolios. Or private where there is limited access and a vendor or third party takes care of any IT for your business.
Your level of support will vary based on the size and scope of your organization as well as the size of your IT department.
When it comes to configurability for your IWMS, do not get confused with customizable. Often when vendors say their solution is configurable it could mean it is customizable, but that requires more time and money to do.
Configurable means that the system can be adjusted but the source code is never touched, merely these changes are saved to the central database.
If your organization is outfitted to handling and integrating configurations to the database, having this freedom enables your business to make your own adjustments on premise vs having to go through a vendor and utilize their IT department.
With IoT becoming increasingly common as more building managers and facilities managers choose to connect their IWMS and sensors together for a range of data analytics, IoT integration is a factor to consider.
IoT integration ultimately gives you the ability to turn your building into a network of sensors and data analytics that record data on all things in the building from space management to occupancy rates to room booking.
Sensor capabilities like this will help make better decisions regarding business operations and improve your office environment for employees.
The employee experience is what can turn an office into a workplace and get away from the feeling of going to an office that doesn’t feel like another maze of cubicles.
The right IWMS will address things that employees can benefit from changing or that adds data-driven insights to changes surrounding space management for the betterment of the office.
Elevating the employee experience in modern workplaces has become a cornerstone of many mission statements and corporate objectives across the world during the pandemic. This will ultimately only continue as hybrid work evolves and our relationship with the office changes.
There might seem like a lot to remember for IWMS basics, making it not so basic. The fact it can be assembled for each organization’s unique needs means that finding your business’ needs and must haves along with budget are the most important aspects.
With an IWMS that fits your office you can make informed decisions on how to improve employee experience, elevate facilities management and in the long run lower costs for the betterment of the business.