The concise guide to IWMS

As the responsibilities of facilities management become broader and more complex, technology that is designed to make this more manageable and efficient is more vital than ever. That is where an IWMS offers significant value to an organisation.

Transform your environment

By bringing together a wide range of workplace management solutions, including real estate, maintenance, space management and environmental sustainability into one, streamlined system, IWMS software transforms the capabilities of FM professionals and plays a key role in making workplaces their most efficient, comfortable and cost-effective.

Here, we will discuss what an IWMS and its role in the wider world of facilities management, as well as the benefits you can reap by instituting this technology into your infrastructure.

What is workplace management?

Before we dive into IWMS in greater detail, it is worth exploring workplace management in general. Workplace management is a segment of facilities management that focuses on optimising the physical environment of the workplace and supporting the people within it.

The other side of the FM coin, business management, is centred around the activity that takes place within this environment. However, it is widely recognised that the quality of the setting surrounding this work is essential to ensure employees can work at their most productive.

So what do workplace management solutions actually do? Well, it encapsulates anything and everything that can be done to create the best possible environment for staff, whether they’re experienced managers or somebody figuring things out on their first day.

This incorporates:

  • The layout of furniture and equipment within the workplace
  • Organising room and desk availability to prevent double-bookings
  • Supporting strategies for expansions to ensure optimal use of office space
  • Managing seat assignments and further granular details
  • Move management, including inventory checks and designing the new space

All of these seek to boost employee satisfaction by giving people clarity and confidence in the structure of their work environment, make work more efficient by automating substantial portions of their workplace management needs, and reducing overheads with a smarter use of space and more streamlined operations.

IWMS and other forms of workplace management software will typically be found in larger corporations. They have a lot of space to optimise and personnel to keep happy, and technology such as this helps them achieve this, ensuring there’s never an issue with the cleanliness or comfort of their environment or their workspaces are unavailable.

However, in an attempt to compete with larger organisations, smaller businesses have also been known to implement work management systems to aid performance. Of course, this will depend on its relevancy and available budget.

What is IWMS?

Now that we’ve established what workplace management entails, what role do Integrated Workplace Management Systems play in benefiting people’s working environment?

An IWMS is a single, comprehensive suite comprising of tools designed to manage, monitor and organise a physical workspace. While this has been a primary focus of FM teams for decades, this technology is actually a fairly recent development, as prior to IWMS software, its various components would need to be stretched across multiple platforms.

IWMS software is meant to bring everything that influences the workplace under one roof. Indeed, when Gartner first coined the term “integrated workplace management system” back in 2004, it was referencing software that integrates and manages the following five functional areas:

1. Real estate and lease management

This encompasses the acquisition and finances of properties within an organisations portfolio. Within an IWMS will be the capacity to organise transactions, manage their lease, request for proposal (RFP) management and tax considerations.

2. Facilities and space management

This covers the operation and organisation of the facilities within an organisation, and how employees manage this environment. This relates to everything from tracking and collecting data on assets and understanding the physical layout of a building (often by integrating CAD or BIM software into the IWMS), to the ways people can reserve rooms and desks.

3. Maintenance management

Like a CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System), part of the IWMS software handles the corrective and preventative maintenance required throughout facilities and the assets within them. This helps with creating work orders and PPM schedules, inventory and stock management, and assessing the condition of assets across their lifecycles.

4. Environmental sustainability

This encapsulates the ability to track energy usage and levels across an organisation, with the aim of reducing costs and helping an organisation become more energy-efficient and environmentally conscious. This will often integrate with various BMS (Building Management Systems) like thermostats, air conditioning and lighting to automate and manage their usage to support stronger sustainability.

5. Capital project management

Fifth and finally, this segment relates to the development of new facilities and other building projects. This incorporates aspects for the planning and design of the layout, funding and bidding, and financial accounting for the project in question.

Any software that integrates these various facets of FM can be considered an IWMS. However, since 2004 many examples of IWMS software has expanded beyond these five elements, incorporating elements like asset management, overall project management, site selection, and occupancy to provide even more comprehensive support to FMs and employees throughout the workplace.

As noted, in the past, these various aspects would be managed using a range of workplace systems and involve multiple departments. An IWMS brings these into a single, central location, with the aim of making FMs lives a lot easier and their actions more effective.

Do you require CAFM or IWMS software?

You might have seen this question asked a lot, or spotted articles on the “IWMS vs CAFM” debate. For some these terms are virtually interchangeable, while others see IWMS as the evolution of CAFM systems that encompass more features than this software.

Fundamentally, they both have a role as workplace systems. But, CAFM tends to have a firmer focus on the physical structure of a building and supporting the wellbeing of the people inside it. Its speciality lies in space planning and in many instances can be considered predominantly administrative.

In comparison, the reach of IWMS software extends further, as it not only influences how space is used within an organisation and looking after the people within it, but also incorporates environmental and lease management measures as well.

As time has passed, the IWMS or CAFM argument has lessened, with both technologies now more comprehensive in their support of FM teams globally. Indeed, in our own MRI Evolution product, we regard it as the ultimate CAFM/IWMS solution, as it takes on board the best elements of both kinds of software to present an all-encompassing tool for FM professionals.

What are the benefits of workplace systems?

Due to the wide array of features found within modern IWMS software, it offers significant benefits to organisations looking to control their workplaces like never before. Just some of the benefits include:

Compiling data for all assets and real estate

If you represent a multi-site organisation, having a central database containing all relevant, real-time asset and real estate data can be crucial for allowing FMs to keep tabs on their workspaces without needing to physically visit these locations or get regular updates from the ground level. This allows them to apply their time more effectively.

Reducing energy use and unnecessary expenditure

IWMS software enables stronger decision-making in relation to how energy is used around a site, and what can be done to reduce this where possible. Over time this can lead to substantial savings and help an organisation play their part in protecting the world around us.

Empowering and supporting employees

Fundamentally, an IWMS should make life easier for FMs, office managers and other administrators concerned with how their facilities are functioning. But beyond that, by managing the workplace to make it as comfortable as possible, this will boost their wellbeing and morale and encourage them to work more effectively.

Improved productivity

As well as heighten the productivity of employees by keeping them happy and healthy in their workplace, IWMS software can help monitor the performance of various assets, enables organisations to designate shared spaces for efficient working, and guide workplace processes to ensure they run at their most efficient.

Optimised use of space and resources

From extending the lifecycles of assets through more effective planned preventative maintenance (PPM), to optimising how space is employed and managed throughout all properties, this empowers FMs to manage their buildings more intently than ever.

Enhanced strategic planning

By keeping all valuable information in one space and visible through a solid user interface, this reduces the time FMs previously needed to devote to performing manual checks or interacting with numerous platforms. This allows them the headspace to think strategically about how they can truly maximise the space available within their organisation and best look after their members of staff.

Easier to meet compliance

The increased visibility offered by IWMS software makes it more straightforward for teams to ensure they are meeting their compliance requirements, as well as identify and fix any problem in a timely fashion. Whether this relates to energy management or handling of hazardous materials, this greatly streamlines any necessary compliance processes.

Integration with IoT and smart buildings

Smart buildings enhance workspaces by collecting data through the IoT and using this to further automate and manage systems across their facilities. An IWMS can collate this real-time data into strategic dashboards, allowing for organisations to run more seamlessly than they ever could before.

More straightforward reporting

By centralising all essential data into one resource, it is easier for FMs and other administrators to not only follow this information and use it to guide strategy, but also to pull out this data into clear, informative reports that give other stakeholders a clear sense of how efficiently their buildings are operating.

Introducing IWMS into your organisation

We hope this guide to IWMS has been eye-opening. The breadth of benefits and features this technology offers is transforming how FMs operate, driving greater efficiencies and improving the way workplaces meet the needs of the people within them day-to-day.

For the implementation and integration of IWMS software, it is critical that this is completed with the specific requirements of your organisation and the goals that you intend for it to achieve. This entails the need for an effective workplace strategy – one that lays a physical foundation for both new and existing employees to function to their full potential.

With that in mind, our team at MRI are always ready to assist you on the path to revolutionising your working environment. By offering IWMS consulting to understand what you need and expect from this software, to handling its integration into your existing infrastructure, we work closely with you to ensure you reap the maximum benefits from your system.

For more information about our approach to taking control of your working world, talk to our team today, or get hands-on with MRI Evolution by arranging your exclusive demo.


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