Top IWMS Benefits

There are many benefits to Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS). Here are my top picks:

 

  1. Streamline Processes and Optimize Resources

In every organization there are a lot of processes that help individuals to optimize their contribution to the primary process of the organizations, usually to make sales profitability. While Real Estate & Facilities Management (REFM) professionals rarely are tasked with sales primary processes, their processes can have a large impact on profitability, usually by controlling costs.  Integrated Workplace Management Systems can easily help you to streamline those processes to save time, reduce cycle times for work requests and eliminate waste, thereby lowering operating expenses.

 

  1. Optimize Space Utilization & Occupancy

Real Estate costs account for 10%-25% of an organization’s cost base. As cost reduction programs have made it to C-level, organizations need to have an accurate and timely view of their real estate portfolio to ensure that both current and future  organizational space demands are aligned with their supply. Facility maintenance and operations costs are largely derived from the amount and type of space in its portfolio. Therefore organizations need to optimize space utilization and not serve extra space or under-used spaces. IWMS helps you to quickly identify space vacancies or under-utilized areas of your portfolio, which can be used to improve your REFM metrics and the organization’s bottom line.

 

  1. Monitor Performance to Optimize Resources and Organizational Flexibility

Matching service demand and delivery is extremely important for every organization. You need to be able to monitor both in-house and service provider performance to ensure that you have appropriate resources to support the organization’s goals. In addition, you need accurate, timely data to ensure that the Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) negotiated with your outsourced partners are aligned with performance. Through  custom, easy to generate Dashboards and advanced reporting functionality, today’s IWMS empowers your organization to effectively manage service delivery quickly and accurately.

 

Organizations that haven’t outsourced their service delivery will benefit from the resource planning and allocation functionality that most IWMS systems provide. Team leaders can easily schedule tasks to available resources and effectively plan their workload.  What’s more, resource allocation in IWMS can enable allocating tasks only to appropriate resources and help identify gaps to justify additional resources and training development plans for staff.

 

Lastly, some REFM tasks can be automated by an IWMS. The system reduces the required human interaction and thus, reduces the staffing requirements. REFM organizations can do more with less. This is especially helpful during ramp-up and expansion where a 25% increase in productivity could be achieved via IWMN instead of hiring another staff member. Indeed, expected productivity gains should be a key part of any justification or ROI analysis for IWMS implementation.

 

  1. Minimize Human Errors

Humans make a lot of mistakes. About 80% of all Facility Management and Real Estate processes can be standardized and automated. Standardization and automation of processes in an IWMS ensures a reduction in human errors. Fewer errors also mean faster cycle times, higher customer satisfaction, reduction of redundant work and fewer costs involved with error recovery which has a direct impact on the bottom line.

 

  1. Enforce Organizational Policy

Every IWMS can enforce organizational policies. By enforcing policy adherence,  you ensure that people actually comply with your business goals and regulations instead of only considering them as guidelines.

 

  1. Never Lose Your Data or Waste Time Finding It

IWMS is a central location for all you REFM data. Better yet, the best IWMS systems are SaaS, Software as a Service, meaning that it’s in The Cloud, available whenever and wherever you have internet access. It gets better: because the software and data reside off-site at professional Cloud Providers, you never need to get I.T. approval for hardware, software, updates or changes. You control your destiny, not I.T.

 

With IWMS costs and implementation timelines at a fraction of where they were just a few years ago, there is no reason why any REFM organization is not using a SaaS based system today.IMG_20151111_152326

Advertisements

Epicus Group Announces Partnership with iOffice

Press Release

Epicus Group Joins iOffice’s Global Channel Partner Program

HOUSTON, TX–(Marketwired – Oct 5, 2015) –  iOffice, the only people-driven integrated workplace management solution (IWMS), today announced the domestic and international growth of its Channel Partner Program. “Through iOffice, we have increased our competitiveness and clients that use iOffice have increased their space utilization and achieved better control over the workflow of work orders,” said Peter Mellin, SVP Service Operations, Sodexo Nordics. “The collaboration between our company and iOffice works great, and we’ve even been able to include our own features like e-commerce and Innovate.“

The iOffice Channel Partner Program serves resellers, implementation partners and service providers who are trusted advisors to their clients seeking innovative IWMS solutions. iOffice Channel Partner Manager Rich Peacock said, “The global growth of our channel partner program is a direct reflection of how easy it is to sell, deploy and use iOffice’s SaaS technology. Clients love the intuitive user interface, mobile apps, and the low barriers to entry, and resellers appreciate our highly incentivized, straightforward program that’s dedicated to our partners’ long-term success.”

What this means to you is that you now have a local iOffice implementation partner to support your Integrated Work Management System (IWMS) needs for:

  • Space Management – visualize floor plans on-line, in real-time from any device to understand space utilization and easily plan for future needs
  • Employee Data – Oracle, SAP and other HR systems can be integrated with iOffice to ensure seamless and timely data updates
  • Service (Work Order) Request – submit, update & manage facility service requests, such as repair notifications, equipment installations, and general maintenance activities from desktop and mobile devices
  • Move Management – seamlessly coordinate employee and asset moves, adds or changes with minimal disruption
  • Asset Management – track location, contract terms and on-going maintenance of tangible assets in real time
  • Updates via Mobile Devices

iOffice space screen shot

About Epicus Group
Headquartered in the Bay Area and serving Northern California, EPICUS GROUP is a professional services firm that plans, designs and manages  highly complex ​facilities and projects.  Our team provides “Integrated Project Delivery” by leveraging our internal staff of Project Managers, Construction Managers, Engineers, Architectural Designers, Facilities and EH&S professionals.

Visit www.epicusgroup.com and connect with us on LinkedIn

About iOffice
iOffice is the leading workforce-centric IWMS software and the only 100% SaaS platform designed for facilities management leaders. iOffice equips C-suite executives, strategic planners and facilities managers with the real-time data and communications tools they need to plan effectively for the future of their workforce and workspace. With ten, open and customizable modules, iOffice was built to be agile and robust, requiring minimal training to accomplish any task. Founded in 2000, iOffice supports more than 2.1M users in 1,500 fast moving companies including BMC, Under Armour, Big Fish Games, Zillow, Adobe, McKesson, Hess, Dynegy, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, SPX and more.

Visit http://www.iofficecorp.com and connect with iOffice on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn @iOffice.

mobile device

Top 5 Reasons Why FM’s Need Space Management

This White Paper comes from James McDonald at iOffice. Follow the link, sign up and check it out.

http://www.iofficecorp.com/resources/white-papers/5-reasons-fm-software-need

CAFM – It’s not just for big companies

In my experience implementing, training and using CAFM (Computer-Aided Facilities Management) systems, I have seen many organizations face an important issue.  Does an organization wait until they have the money and time to implement an IWMS (Integrated Work Management System) enterprise-level system or do they implement a basic CAFM now?  As consultants in Real Estate and Facilities Management (REFM), my colleagues and I at Epicus Group have helped organizations implement CAFM to get the benefits of a CAFM system now to support growing dynamic organizations. If you are a facility planning professional or are responsible for space planning and tracking and you don’t have a CAFM or IWMS system, you should continue reading because you are missing out of an important tool that will save you time and money.

 What is CAFM?

CAFM is a tool that is primarily used to manage space for companies and other organizations that understand the value of managing and optimizing the second highest cost, after people.

 What value does CAFM offer to my organization? 

Reduce operation costs     ∙      Optimize space efficiency    ∙    Improve customer service       Increase collaboration & team productivity      ∙      Produce more accurate reports quicker     Share information throughout your organization

 What is IWMS?

IWMS (Integrated Work Management System) is a complex enterprise level program that ties into financial and procurement inventory management systems. It provides facility managers with a single tool that encompasses most of their operational needs. Many former CAFM and CMMS, (Computer Maintenance Management Systems) evolved into IWMS over the past 10 years of so in an attempt to offer more functions to facilities managers. (See below for a comparison of functions.) However, along with more functionality, comes solutions comes with a high price and a long lead time as expensive I.T. consultants are deployed for the implementation and integration.  The costs, training, and time needed to successfully deploy an IWMS can be overwhelming, especially for smaller, younger operations.

System Functional Comparison
System Functional Comparison

 

If you currently do not have a system in place to manage your space and aid in space planning, then ask yourself:

  • Do you need all those functions to achieve the benefit of a CAFM system? 
  • Can you afford the expense and time now?

 Here are some things to consider when evaluating CAFM systems:

  • Simple vs. Complex

What level of CAFM experience and skills does your organization possess?

Can you afford the time and money to obtain trained planners?

Alternatively, how much time and effort are you willing to spend to get your organization proficient?

Will a basic CAFM solution that can be deployed quickly provide you with the tools you need today?

  • Time for Deployment 

Who will perform the drawing conversion and database set-up?

      • Do you or your staff have time to do it?
      • How much time will it take if you do it with internal resources?

How long do you want to wait for set-up: a few weeks or several months?

  • Functions and Capabilities

Do you really need all the features that a full CAFM system may offer?

Are there other functions, such as lease administration, that you need?

  • Flexibility

Will the system grow or adapt to your changing needs?

  • Cost

Do you have budget for a large, established system?

 CAFM for All – Start small, but plan for tall.

Most CAFM providers offer cloud-based offerings. Cloud services allow facility managers to outsource the provision of CAFM software and data services.  This eliminates the need for separate contracts or expertise to host and maintain physical servers. The common barrier of IT approval is also eliminated.

A CAFM system could be the best choice for smaller, dynamic companies as it enables the organization to keep pace with growth quickly and easily.  When an organization is ready for an enterprise system, your digital information is easily brought into an IWMS enterprise system.

Give us a call at Epicus Group to see how CAFM could benefit your organization.

Building Siting & the Building Envelope – The Developers’ Curse

Five years ago the Silicon Valley chapter of IFMA created a special suppliant to the Business Journal called “An Inside Look at the Facilities Management Profession”. I recently found a copy of it in my office and an article titled, “Adding Value through Sustainable Practices” got my attention.

In the article I noted “that our building is not performing well – we are 71,000 SF on three floors, and the building was constructed in 2003”, only five years old at the time. I went on, “this was a spec building. It looks great on the outside but when it comes to energy costs there is a lot lacking – for example, the north and south parts of the building are designed the same.” So were the east and west: a square glass cube, with no regards for solar siting. I concluded by proclaiming that, “I am going to encourage people to think more about the design of future buildings – solar design is going to be quite important.” And five years later we continue to construct buildings in Silicon Valley the same old way without regards to the Building Siting or the make-up of the Building EnvelopeThe Developers’ Curse to the Facilities Manager.

Attention to Building Siting and the Building Envelope have been of interest to me for a long time, but like many people, I became complacent in the 1980s and 1990s with the return of cheap and abundant oil. I studied Passive Solar Design in college and only became interested again five years ago after managing the horrible spec building that I described above. Since then, I have joined Passive House (http://passivehousecal.org/), completed a LEED-credited “Green Building” class earned my BPI certification as an Energy Auditor (http://www.bpi.org/professionals_designations.aspx) and my SFP (Sustainable Facility Professional) last year. Thinking about the building siting and its envelope comes naturally to me now and I’m surprised that it doesn’t for more facility managers.

Why is the Building Envelope Important?

Beyond its core function to keep the outside environment (rain, critters, etc.) from entering the facility in a way that would be detrimental to the facility, the Building Envelope is also the main means to minimize extreme hot and cold outside temperatures from effecting the interior temperatures of the facility.

The top three components to designing a facility with a good Building Envelope are:

  • Siting – how is the facility oriented on the site? Ideally, buildings should be oriented east-west with the long facades facing north and south. Western-facing windows should be minimal and northern ones designed to capture indirect natural light. One should also factor in the site’s slope, climate, prevalent seasonal wind directions and natural vegetation as well as adjacent land use and structures.
  • Solar Radiation Mitigation – generally, direct solar exposure to facilities in our climate should be minimized to avoid heat-gain even in the winter. South facing windows are good, but in our climate we need to worry more about too much direct solar radiation rather than collecting it for additional building heat-gain as one would in a colder climate. Reflective roofs or green roofs with vegetation a are great ways to minimize exposure of solar radiation from the roof.
  • Materials
    • Companies like Serious Energy have developed products that help make up for the minimally required building materials (such as single-pane windows) that developers will approve without regards to thermal barriers
    • Awnings are a great, simple way to block unwanted solar radiation for south-facing windows and doors. So are porches, but we don’t seem to be designing very many commercial buildings these days with them despite a legacy of porches in early California architecture, ideally suited for our climate
    • Window Films – a minimally costly way to decrease the U-Value of windows
    • Insulation – more is generally better, but check the material content of the insulation material to avoid hazardous and high imbedded energy materials
    • While not a material, all the triple-paned windows and insulation won’t do you much good if you have a leaky building. A single air gap in the Building Envelope can make the rest of the Building Envelope materials underperform and create an expensive and uncomfortable workplace.

With all these ways to make the workplace more comfortable and save energy costs why do decisions about the Building Envelope continue to be made so carelessly? It usually comes down to up-front costs and the FM willing to accept whatever an inferior product that the developer knows they can likely get away with. When you look beyond the First Costs or Rent, you will likely save a significant amount of money if Building Siting and the Building Envelope are seriously considered during the building’s design.

First Costs vs. OPEX

Many decisions about the Building Envelope are made on First Cost basis only without regard to what it will cost to operate the facility or life-cycle costing. This is especially true with facilities built by developers on-spec, where the Building Envelope decision makers, the developers, will never occupy the facility; they never pay for many of the operating expenses (OPEX), such as heating and cooling costs. When the facility is un-leased, the developer / owner simply shuts off the utilities; when it is leased and occupied, the tenant / occupant pays the utilities, either directly to the utility companies or via the landlord as a pass-thru expense. Either way, the developer wins and the occupants (including the facility manager) are cursed.

Rent vs. OPEX

Too often real estate brokers and their clients only focus on the rental rate when evaluating facilities rather than considering all the costs of occupancy. Utility costs, especially electricity, which generally makes up over 50% of a facility’s utility cost and can approach the monthly rental amount in a poorly designed and constructed facility. A well-sited facility with a well-performing building envelope can result in additional benefits beyond greatly reducing utility and operating costs, including:

  • Environmental Benefits
    • According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 45% of U.S. electricity is generated from coal with another 23% from burning natural gas, both contributing increases of CO2 and other global warming gases. With over one-third of a typical facility’s electricity used for HVAC, considering the facility’s site and building envelope in the design can greatly reduce carbon emissions generated directly or indirectly by commercial facilities.
    • Social Benefits to your organization
      • Every experienced facility manager knows that the top work request is: Too Hot / Too Cold. Considering the Building Site during design and improving the Building Envelope can greatly increase the comfort for building occupants, which can only help improve your organization’s performance.

So now that you know the importance of Building Siting and the Building Envelope, here are some things that you can do next.

  1. Spread the word.
    1. Talk to your brokers and designers if you are searching for new space or developing a new building. Ask them what is being done to improve the energy efficiency via Building Siting and the Building Envelope if you are working or seeking new space. For existing buildings that you are considering leasing, ask your broker to provide you with data that shows how energy efficient the building is or what the landlord can do to improve its performance. Some items, from landscaping changes to awnings to new windows are a minimal investment by a landlord compared to the future rent of a prospective tenant
    2. Talk to your manager and business unit leaders about the advantages – savings, occupant comfort & environmental – of investing in Building Site and Envelope improvements if a landlord won’t pay for them.
    3. Talk to your employees and building occupants. If you are considering improving a space that you currently occupy, then find out how satisfied they are with the cost and comfort of the space. Your EH&S and Human Resource departments should be able to assist.
    4. Benchmark your facility. Even if you obtained a good Energy Star rating a few years ago, update it. If you haven’t done this yet, get started as this may be a requirement for all commercial buildings soon and why wouldn’t you want to know?
    5. If you have recent energy usage benchmarking data, but haven’t done much lately to improve your building’s performance, then pursue a professional energy audit. There are many good companies in our area that can do this for you (several are chapter members).
    6. Contact me if you want to learn more or share your experience with making Building Site changes or Building Envelope improvements. I’d love to hear from you.

6 Key Business Metrics (that every REFM professional should know)

After the U.S. federal government bailed General Motors (GM), then GM CEO and Chairman Ed Whitacre, Jr. told a reporter that he reviews only six metrics to determine the performance of a company or organization. Ed Whitacre, Jr. was the CEO of one of the “Baby Bells” (SBC) when the federal government broke up the old AT&T in the 1980s. He later merged SBC with several other Baby Bells, including Pacific Bell, and eventually acquired AT&T to form the current communications giant that exists today, at&t.[1] After he retired, President Obama tapped him to head up the new GM, which he returned to profitability after years of losses and near bankruptcy.

As a real estate and facilities management (REFM) professional, I have been searching for ways to better communicate performance and impact to executives who rarely understand REFM-speak: the jargon and common ways that we talk to each other and our contractors about space, projects and facilities operations. In order to be successful, we need to speak the language of business and learn how our world affects these six key metrics:

  • Market Share
  • Revenue
  • Operating Profit
  • Cash Flow
  • Quality
  • Customer Satisfaction

Let’s examine each of these metrics and see how they tie into the world of a Real Estate and Facilities Management.

Market Share

Anyone who has read any of Jack Walsh’s books knows what a huge proponent Mr. Walsh is of Market Share. Jack Walsh (and I’m sure many other business leaders) believes that if your product or service is not number one or two in market share, then you have a problem with your business. This is one reason why mergers and acquisitions are so popular because they can be a quick way to gain market share and possibly enable your organization to get to or near the top.

I consulted for a company that had recently consisted of two companies: one was number two in market share and the other was number three. When the number three company announced plans to acquire the number four market share company, the number two company quickly worked out a deal to acquire the number three company (nixing the deal between numbers 3 and 4), which made it the new number one market share company in its industry.

Why is this important? In addition to hopefully gaining some R&D, manufacturing and administrative synergies with the merger, suddenly the company was in the spotlight of the media, Wall Street and its competitors. Instead of being an also-ran company, the expectations for the new number one market share company increased exponentially. This meant that the all organizations, including the REFM group needed to “step it up” a few notches and prove to everyone that it deserved to be number one.

So, look at the market share position of your company’s products and services; are they currently number one or have plans to be? If so, you need to be ready to support them like a top—notch organization or you may become an also-ran.

Revenue

You may think that there’s not much that the REFM organization can do to effect the revenue of the company, but the REFM organization plays a crucial role supporting the organization’s ability to support revenue plans, especially if revenue suddenly increases or decreases. How do you prepare for this? The best way is to know that you have the right amount and the right type of facilities. Are your facility plans in-line with the organization’s revenue plans?

In today’s fast-pace business world, you need tools, such as a CAFM system to be ready for rapid changes. This is your foundation for your strategic facilities plan where you can readily access the data you need to support your plans and how they are aligned with the top goals of the organization.

Operating Profit

Investors look closely at Operating Profit every quarter to evaluate a company’s performance. After deducting the cost of revenue (what did it cost to make or purchase the company’s products), R&D, SG&A and any non-recurring costs, you end up with the operating profit or loss. A small reduction (less than 5%) of the REFM operating budget can have a significant impact on the company’s Income Statement, often improving the EPS by a penny or more. A penny may not sound like much, but it can make a huge impression to investors who can significantly affect your company’s stock price. Therefore, anything that you can do to reduce costs – think sustainability programs – can be quite valuable to your company.

Cash Flow

Cash flow is a financial metric on the company’s balance sheet that indicates the financial health of a company. Obviously, cash is good and if the latest balance sheet shows an increase of “cash and cash equivalents” then generally the company is operating well: revenues may be increasing and / or operations are well-run.

For REFM, continuous improvement in operations, including savings from implementing sustainability initiatives can help improve cash flow. In addition, investing in a CAFM system to better manage space can result in an optimized portfolio and help avoid wasteful investments in excess space. Additionally, managing your vendors well by ensuring that they fully perform their contractual obligations can help you to avoid wasteful spending. While finding ways to improve your company’s cash flow is a worthy objective for every REFM professional, delaying vendor payments beyond the agreed upon terms is not a good or sustainable practice. This is not fair to your vendors, especially small ones that receive a significant amount of their revenue supporting your operations.

Quality

The quality of a product or service can have a significant impact on the success of the company’s offerings. Just as companies can look to 3rd-party unbiased firms to assess and rate products (think Consumer Reports as an example), the REFM organization has its own means to measure the quality of its products (space and facilities) and services.

Benchmarking is a terrific way to measure quality that is an often-used tool in the REFM toolbox. Virtually any part of your facilities, from space to operations can be measured and benchmarked against past performance and comparable operations. There are several ways to benchmark your operations:

  • Start your own benchmark study and invite colleagues to join
  • Hire a company that performs benchmarking studies or participate in one for free. If you participate in IFMA’s benchmarking studies, for example, you will receive the study report for free
  • Use an on-line tool such as the “Energy Star” benchmarking tool to compare the energy performance of your facilities to industry standards to begin understanding opportunities for energy savings

Surveys are another useful way to measure the quality of your operations, which I will cover in the final key metric.

Customer Satisfaction

Just as your company needs to know what its customers think of its products and services, you should know how your customers think of their facilities and associated services. Surveys are the best way to find out. As with benchmarking, you need to establish a baseline of current performance that can be used to set future performance goals and determine where improvement is needed.

Another way to survey your customers is to provide a link to a simple survey after completing every Facility Work Order (FWO). As you gather data regarding your service levels, you will begin to understand your team’s performance better as well as identify problem areas that you can begin to address by discussing performance concerns with your customers. Again, keep the survey simple: I use a scale from 1 to 5 and anytime that I receive a score less than 3, I want to have a conversation with the person who gave us a low score to find out where the problems are, determine how to improve services and ensure that future work is completed in a satisfactory manner.

Communications – Speak the Language

Understanding and incorporating these six core metrics into your vocabulary and reports to your executives will enable you to communicate more effectively with them when you are proposing new projects and changes to your operating expenses. Your executives may prefer a few other business metrics, but start using these six core metrics. Once you begin to speak the language of your executives they will realize that you understand their world which will lead to greater success for you and your organization.


[1]To differentiate between the old AT&T and the new company, the new company is referred to as at&t, all lower case.