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What is an integrated workplace management system?

An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) is a software platform that streamlines all areas of real estate and facilities management onto a single, dynamic and scalable platform.

An IWMS uses a centralized database to simplify and combine processes. Therefore, organizations no longer require multiple, disparate software systems and solutions—such as facility management software, human resource management tools and enterprise resource planning software—to manage their business.

Gartner first defined the term in 2004, and considers IWMS to be platforms that integrate the following functional areas:

  • Property and real estate management (such as lease accounting and lease management)
  • Capital project management (such as capital planning and cost and resource management)
  • Facilities management (such as space management, move management and space utilization)
  • Operations and maintenance management (such as asset management and vendor management)
  • Sustainability and energy management (such as carbon emissions tracking and energy benchmarking)
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How does an IWMS solution work?

A comprehensive IWMS solution captures and generates data and metrics pertaining to multiple aspects of real estate and facilities portfolio management such as operating costs, energy consumption, maintenance management, floor plans and more. It then consolidates the data to provide a holistic view of your entire real estate and facilities portfolio. Making use of this data can help your organization reduce expenses, quickly adapt to changing occupant demands, make more informed decisions about workspaces and meet sustainability goals.

IWMS are built on the functions of technologies like computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. CAFM software is designed to help manage and maintain all aspects of physical infrastructures including reservation systems and energy management. Similarly, CMMS uses data to optimize all functions of asset management and facilities maintenance operations including equipment, infrastructure and other hard assets. While organizations might use multiple CAFM and CMMS solutions to manage operations, these solutions aren’t connected and can’t share information, which might create gaps in data and inefficiencies across systems.

An IWMS platform combines CAFM and CMMS technology into one, providing a consolidated view of assets from across your real estate portfolio and revealing how they interact and affect each other.

Why are IWMS important?

IWMS systems organize data into one centralized database, which improves decision-making and cost savings. In fact, research shows that an IWMS solution can improve facility usage efficiency by 39.3% while reducing facility maintenance costs by 15.2%.1

With built-in dashboards, mobile apps and robust and responsive user interfaces, IWMS also provide a clear view into the corporate real estate portfolio. They make enhanced operational resiliency and efficiency and improved business processes possible by easily answering questions like: are we allocating space properly? Is the heating and cooling system due for service? Which leases are due for renewal?

Also, IWMS adds a layer of automation between functions that isn’t possible with multiple solutions. Automation helps reduce manual intervention, redundant processes and inaccurate data. For example, IWMS solutions automate the tracking and evaluation of building and asset maintenance and automatically issue work orders if necessary. These capabilities help reduce costs by minimizing the time from evaluation and discovery to problem resolution. Swiftly addressing issues related to facilities and workspaces helps improve the general well-being of those facilities, their employees, occupants and the working environment.

What are the features and benefits of IWMS?

Through the real estate and facilities management optimization that IWMS software provides, you can:

Enhance efficiency

IWMS help organizations monitor and manage all of the portfolio’s assets across their lifecycle. This allows businesses to get ahead of their maintenance and service management posture. IWMS platforms automate maintenance and repair schedules and streamline workflows to better predict and prevent equipment downtime, manage and monitor energy consumption, plan and run required maintenance or implement new sustainability initiatives. For example, preventive maintenance uses data and predictive analytics to help discover and evaluate problems before they become major issues, reducing downtime and minimizing risk. This keeps assets up and running optimally, which improves efficiency and reduces operating costs.

Optimize space

IWMS software helps you better identify needs, plan layouts and manage your workspaces by using accurate occupancy rates. Digital tools automate tasks and use your data to optimize floor plans, maximize space and make sure that the right spaces are available when needed.

Elevate workplace experiences

According to IDC research, the quality of employee experiences is 87% more likely to boost employee retention.2 The right IWMS solution helps optimize space planning modules in real time, ensuring the right office spaces and meeting rooms are available when needed. Digital tools help employees work better in the space they’re in by providing a real-time view of available spaces, the ability to easily reserve the right space and request maintenance or other services. IWMS also enables you to regulate temperatures, optimize lighting and create easily accessible sanitation areas.

Incorporate sustainability

As employees and occupants demand more environmentally friendly practices, IWMS enables facilities managers to find opportunities to reduce energy consumption and emissions. Energy management integrates automatic temperature controls, lighting allocation tailored to your actual occupancy and physical space plans, helping reduce your facilities’ overall carbon footprint. An IWMS software solution can help improve your energy consumption by 11.5%.1

Streamline real estate operations

IWMS software consolidates lease administration, management and accounting needs into one platform. Plus, it can automatically track lease renewals across multiple locations and simplify lease agreements, payments and contract and compliance requirements.

What is the future of IWMS?

Space management is an increasing priority for many organizations. Sometimes, work and workspaces are becoming more of an experience as much as a physical place. Even as nontraditional work environments including hybrid arrangements, digital workplaces and remote work become more widespread, building a safe, comfortable office space with clean air and surfaces and strong security measures is still imperative.

But implementing these changes calls for cutting-edge technology that is continually evolving and might, in many cases, require major retrofitting. Despite challenges including aging infrastructure, costs and changing needs, IDC found that “88% of enterprises have made or are planning investments to update physical spaces to make them more suitable for flexible work models.” And that, “by 2025, 90% of new commercial constructions or renovations will deploy smart facility technology supporting flexible workplaces and sustainably improving occupant experiences and operational performance.”3

As technology advances and more Internet of Things (IoT) devices are incorporated into IWMS solutions, additional automation may be possible. Integrating automatic demand response technology may further automate buildings to optimize energy usage during peak demand times, further helping reduce energy consumption and costs. If merged with real-time occupancy rates, load reduction strategies can even be customized to specific needs and adjusted as conditions change.

The global IWMS market is expanding and with it, construction methods, facilities management practices and occupant demands for sustainability grow each year. Taking advantage of expanding AI-embedded capabilities and the incorporation of the IoT industry into IWMS platforms positions organizations to enable smarter automation and predictive practices well into the future.

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Footnotes

1 Integrated Workplace Management System Market Outlook and Forecasts 2021 – 2028 (link resides outside ibm.com), Mind Commerce, 13 October 2021

2 Is a New Era Upon Us for Space Management? (link resides outside ibm.com), IDC, 20 December 2022

3 Top 10 Workplace Management Trends (link resides outside ibm.com), IDC, January 2022