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

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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.

The “Workplace” – Who Needs It?

Musings from a Facility Rambler

Ed Novak, CFM SFP

April 2013

Problem Statement

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about the workplace in the FM world. From Marissa Mayer’s memo forbidding tele-working from home to Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Google and Nvidia, proclaiming that their new mega-campus designs will be built for collaboration, it seems that everyone is talking about how important “Workplace” is. I capitalize and quote around “Workplace” to differentiate the term from all other workplaces. The “Workplace” as I hear it being discussed, is this magical place where employees go to work to be more productive than anywhere else in the world. Wow, that’s ambitious! It’s also unrealistic and taking the human race down the wrong path. Here’s why…

My Experience

Over the past 4 years, I have worked more often than not outside of my company’s office workplace. Have I changed jobs since then? Yes. Are my jobs different? Yes and No. Over the past 20 years I have been providing real estate and facilities management services. During most of that time I worked directly for the company that I support, but not in the past four years. Instead, I, like most of the professionals in my industry, have been working for out-sourced providers. This is not an aberration nor is this unique to my industry, but has become the reality for more workers as their companies outsource “non-core” functions and refuse to hire employees direct as quickly as they did prior to the 2008 financial meltdown. Okay, you say, but someone is hiring and these employees need to work somewhere, right?

Types of Workplaces

Yes, we still need to work somewhere; it’s just not likely to be at the traditional office locations of the company that we work for. Today, we have many other work location options available to us. Despite the Yahoo! situation, the vast majority of companies are allowing more employees to work more hours from home. In addition, when a function is outsourced, the jobs are rarely located at the company office. I worked for over a year for Johnson Controls (JCI), a real estate and facilities management outsourcing company and did not once work at a JCI site. I either worked from home, at a customer site or at a fourth location type that I call “Transit”. I define Transit work locations as: in a plane, bus or train (hopefully not an auto; at a café or other retail establishment, in a hotel and even at the beach. Yes, I sometimes work at the beach. The point of Transit work locations is that you only work at these locations for a temporary period of time, sometimes only once, never to return.

Convergence – Technology, Globalization & Outsourcing

Work isn’t what it used to be and the workplace needs to reflect this change. One of the reasons that more of us are working at Transit or other locations besides our employer’s office is due to the rapid improvement of technology for work. When you compound technological changes with the decades old trends in Globalization and Outsourcing, we have enabled teams of workers that work across continents, time zones and companies. For example, recently I led a team of facility managers that were located around the globe from Singapore to Scotland. None of us worked from our company’s offices as we all worked at our customer sites. For over a year I led this team of professionals from start-up through the commissioning of both the facilities and the operations. During that I time, I only met one of my direct reports and none ever met each other, yet we all understood and executed to the same goals, achieved similar objectives and had to manage and report in a consistent fashion so that the customer could see that we were one team. How did we do this? First, technology tools enabled us to collaborate regularly and share information rapidly. Second, implementing a strong and consistent management approach along with earning trust and respect via good leadership skills became even more important than working with your team right next to you. If I can do it with a team thousands of miles away, there is no reason why any manager who practices good management skills and core values can’t do it with a team that usually chooses to work somewhere besides the office space that has been assigned to them.

Workplace Productivity – can it really be measured?

The “holy grail” of workplace design has been chased by facility planners and designers for decades. Aside from routine or production type jobs where repetitive tasks can be measured fairly easily, productivity of team tasks are notoriously difficult to measure. Job satisfaction surveys, which is related to productivity but not quite the same , have been used quite often but there are difficulties in relating these to the workplace environment. Past surveys showed that job satisfaction depended upon many factors which assumed greater impact than workplace environment. Job interest has been consistently rated a much higher factor in productivity or performance than the workplace. This is not to say that workplace doesn’t have an impact because the same surveys showed that people thought the workplace was very important. Two indicators that can help determine how a workplace change affected productivity would be to measure the absentee/sickness record and unplanned staff turnover before and after. The reduction in churn should not only provide cost savings but also reduce disruption.

Collaboration – Fact or Myth?

Vertical Spaces vs. Horizontal Spaces or To Bump or To Avoid

There has been a lot of noise lately about how much better a horizontal workspace is vs. a vertical one. Facebook, for example is planning to build what I have called, “The Barn On The Bay”, a 400K SF room, all on one level. Recently I attended presentations from CRE executives from Google and Nvidia talk about the new campus expansions that they are planning. The BayView campus from Google will be limited to 3 floors across multiple buildings with no floor more than one level away from a horizontal pathway to another part of the campus. The triangle inspired Nvidia planned buildings will only have two levels for people (and two for car parking – go figure) with the idea that everyone will drive to work and enter the arena-like facility via a sole, central portal. Why do they want to do this? Because, the VP of REFM claims it will encourage employees to bump into each other which will cause a collaboration event to occur that supposedly wouldn’t happen if people took public transit, entered the building from a perimeter door and took an elevator to the work area. Really, is there research to support this hypothesis? If I really need to collaborate with someone, I can find them pretty easily (can you say Smart-Phone?) without hoping that some magical, spontaneous bump will occur through a weird facility design. Now if I wanted to avoid someone and not chance a random bump, I’m pretty sure that I could find ways to do that too.

Worker Types

Not all workers are the same, so why does the workplace look the same? An architect friend of mine several years ago identified only four types of workers. He termed them: Monks, Shopkeepers, Road Warriors, & Circuit Riders. They either need to generally work in one location or multiple ones and either in a closed (heads down) environment or in an open one. You should be able to figure out the nature of each type by choosing one characteristic from each choice in the previous sentence. Go ahead, I can wait. Okay, ready? It’s an interesting idea to categorize workers and I suppose that some come close to fitting one of these types nearly 100% of the time, but you couldn’t place me in one of those boxes. That’s because I’m all four, just not all four at once. I suspect that you and the vast majority of workers are two or more types during a typical day. Do you ever have days without meetings? Can you only do you work at your assigned desk? No and fewer and fewer workers will in the future. Not only do most of us perform a lot of different types of work, I believe most of us actually like the variety of doing different things. Plus, it’s not healthy for anyone to perform the same task everyday in the same location – we need the diversity.  Which brings me to my next point: age diversity

Generations

Gen-X, Baby Boomer, etc.: we’ve all heard the labels placed on the multiple generation of workers that now work around us. The generalization goes like this. Older workers like their privacy and hierarchal assigned work spaces while younger one don’t care. While I believe that this generalization is somewhat true, it’s always dangerous to label people. Let’s face it, we’re all slightly different and like to work differently and different times. So, do you design a workplace to mold your employees to work a certain way – let’s open the space so we can all now collaborate! Or do you let the organization, team leaders and their trusted staff determine the best way to work? I say, give them the tools, set the expectations and let organizations decide what works best for them. I really like the new digs at the SAP campus in Palo Alto, CA. They created a series of zones where a team is assigned, gave them the tools to be mobile and flexible and let them figure out where and how they get their work done. One size does not fit all or even one person all the time.

Sustainability is the Key

All this talk about worker productivity and collaboration is fine – for the CEO, CFO and shareholders, but in the overall scheme of things it’s not that important. Doing our part to preserve our planet by living and working in more sustainable ways is way more important, almost as important as you personal life. Which means that if you are forcing employees to show up at the “Workplace” for most of their work activities, then how are the employees getting to and from work? What type of housing is near their “Workplace” that minimizes their commute time? What other amenities are found nearby (within a ¼ mile walk, thereby avoiding getting in a car)? As a certified Sustainable Facility Professional, I know that there are opportunities that should be pursued at every workplace to make it a more sustainable place to work. But, we need to tackle the big, external sustainable issues, not just the low-hanging fruit within a facility. For more on this, you can purchase or borrow my Kindle Direct Publishing eBook, titled “SMART Cluster Development for Silicon Valley”. Click on my Publications page. And it’s not just for Silicon Valley.

Mega-Campus vs. Work Anywhere

I’ve commented on this issue at several LinkedIn groups, but I believe that the Mega-Campus concept will be as dead as a dinosaur in the not too distant future. If the Apple Spaceship Ring Memorial campus to Steve Jobs ever gets built (I heard today that it is a mere $2 Billion over budget), years from now tourists will visit it as they do the Great Pyramid or the Taj Mahal – a great monument to a deceased leader. There is a battle going on here between control by the corporate executives that are controlling a lot of money and power (bad economic times) and the free market where technology gives workers the freedom to work when and where to work. I believe in and am rooting for the people.

Free Agent Nation

Finally, it does come down to the individual. We have the power to make choices: where to live, who to work for, what to buy, how to get to work and on and on. Not only do we have the freedom to choose, but companies have pushed us in this direction, almost against our will. We all know that the days of the “Company Man” where men (usually) rarely worked for more than one or two companies in their career. I get it: I lost track of how many times my employer dumped when after my services were no longer needed and I’ve seen it at every place that I ever worked at for the past 32 years. We are a nation of Free Agents. When I read Daniel Pink’s “Free Agent Nation” back in 2002, I could see it happening, but it hadn’t happened to me yet. Even though I had worked for the same company for 8 years at the time, I saw how employers treated employees (you’re fired) at the first sign of a business down-turn. Eleven years later, it’s pretty much all around us: temporary workers who only need a workspace part of the time. So, who needs the “Workplace”? Turns out that we all do, at least some of the time. So, let’s give workers the freedom, tools and leadership direction to choose when