Today’s IWMS software, already offering a broad range of functionality under the umbrella of corporate real estate and enterprise operations, is expanding to include an ever-widening range of functions. These range from transaction management and leasing to maintaining assets, managing space to tracking carbon footprint and managing capital expenditure. Some providers are going so far as to add safety and security and shipping and receiving into the equation.
The world’s most progressive companies see their buildings as more than just bricks and mortar. With proper planning and management, properties can be transformed into strategic assets that play a major part in supporting business goals, workforce culture, talent retention and corporate strategy.
In their white paper on Strategic Facilities Planning (SFP), IFMA states: “Linking facilities to core business strategies is one of the imperatives of refined facility management now and in the future. Even greater importance will be given to SFP in coming years as budgets continue to be squeezed and worker performance and productivity are key factors in the knowledge age.”
Although strategic facilities planning can yield significant benefits, making workplaces fit a company’s business goals can be an overwhelming challenge for corporate real estate groups. Not only must they carve out time for facilities planning from busy workloads, but in many cases they lack the tools to handle the task effectively.
Here’s how to take control of strategic facilities planning so you can proactively support your company’s long-term vision and strategic goals.
As a Gartner analyst some years ago, I focused on the real estate/ facilities management software space. I had spent nearly thirty years in corporate real estate, and was perhaps the only analyst at Gartner who had a broad and varied background in corporate real estate. I wrote one of my first research notes in April of 2003 on the corporate real estate and facilities management space when I identified the key components of what I later named IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management Systems). These elements included:
- Real Estate Management
- Facilities Management (CAFM)
- Design and Space Management; and
- Maintenance Management (CMMS)
Subsequently, facilities environmental sustainability was added to the list of core functionality.
Beginning in the late 1990’s, IWMS systems were developed to solve a wide range of real estate and Facilities Management (FM) problems. Companies were struggling to manage data across a variety of enterprise and corporate real estate functions. Data in different systems such as leasing and asset management were often conflicting, and at that time there were no standards in place for seamlessly sharing data between multiple systems.
IWMS systems seemed to be the answer to RE and FM problems. Companies could implement one platform with modules that could handle every aspect of operations, with one central data repository acting as a single source of truth for CRE and FM information. In theory, the IWMS platform can help organizations increase management efficiency and reduce the costs associated with real estate.
Fast forward almost two decades, and IWMS systems have not exactly delivered on their promises. Particularly in recent years, it’s becoming increasingly clear that one solution can no longer support all real estate functions equally and adequately. Some even say IWMS systems are collapsing under their own weight.
IWMS in the Cloud
Cloud-based delivery has the effect of disaggregating the functionality of IWMS solutions from multiple vendors. No longer must users choose one vendor to deliver all the functionality of an IWMS suite. Alternatively, users can choose best-in-breed solutions, and then integrate in the cloud with a common database, performance metrics, and process engines. The user client can join multiple best–in-breed solutions, realizing higher performance, while reducing the cost of configuring and installing the applications.
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