Are All IWMS Platforms Created Equal?
If you are in the Facilities Management field, you are, no doubt, well aware of the impact technology has on your company. Furthermore, an involved FM realizes the impact(s) can be felt across all levels of an organization.
It is no longer enough to simply invest in technology, assuming that your work is done, once the software and hardware are online. A complacent attitude will undermine much of the hard work initially put forth. Improvements must be made regularly and the processes evolve with these improvements. Therefore, it is critical that you, as the Facilities Leader, continuously research available tools and advancements to ensure your customers are set up for success and that your company invests in the right tools that will evolve as the variables change.
Sifting through the FM software options available today can be tedious and seem redundant. Many types of FM software sound the same, in the product descriptions. But what exactly are the differences between the various options? How do they meet your company’s current needs and are they configured to expand and grow with your company, as it evolves and as technology advances? Obviously we feel the iOffice platform is the most well-rounded tool, but every software vendor will tell you the same. To help you sort it all out, we have compiled a list of the differences you might face, along with questions you will need to consider. We believe that knowledge is power and that well-informed decisions are critical, particularly when making decisions that dramatically impact the workplace.
Can The Modules Be Purchased Separately or Are They Bundled?
When considering if a FM software solution is right for your company, you should identify which of your current processes need to be improved upon and which are effective as they stand. Change is difficult for everyone and one of your biggest challenges will be getting the entire staff onboard and excited about the implementation of these new strategies. So, if you have current tools in place that are effective in helping your company achieve it’s goals, you will likely want to leave those alone, at least for the time being.
“Several players in the FM technology market are now offering bundles of integrated modules. With a dynamic industry and varying demands, customized offerings are seen as preferable to standardized solutions.” - Brianna Crandall, FMlink
When presented with these software bundles, many clients talk themselves into accepting some nonessential items, assuming the unnecessary modules might come in handy later or just viewing them as an added bonus. However, these generic solutions do not consider your company’s individual needs and are often real estate based, never considering the people who use them. A far more effective solution is to consider a platform in which you are given choices as to which tools your company purchases. Think of it as an a la carte menu. Since no two companies are alike, you will want to examine your organization’s personal situation and needs, working closely with the vendor to construct those modules that will help lead you to your goals. Not only do you save the company’s budget by eliminating unnecessary options, you avoid information overload for your team. And as the organization’s needs progress, additional modules can be purchased.
Asset management and tracking, space management, facility maintenance and room reservation capabilities are just a few of the items you are likely looking to incorporate into your IWMS platform. Although these capabilities are usually considered necessary for proper management of the facility, you should be exploring how to improve the performance of these tools, specifically for your company. Part of your role as the Facilities Manager is to analyze past and present data, identify trends and forecast future needs. Your tools should be robust enough to gather key information, providing you dashboard analytics, designed specifically for your company and laid out in a manner that is easy to understand.
How Will Your IT Department And The Rest of The Staff Be Affected By The Integration Process?
We have previously discussed the difficulty of getting your employees onboard and excited about implementing new tools in the day to day operations. As the FM, it is your job to explain the benefits and ease of use the new systems offer. Sell the benefits to your crew. There is no greater turn-off than lost productivity from the implementation process.
Therefore, the integration process is a key detail to consider. If plug-ins are required, what are the costs in both time and money associated with such integration? If each station requires a plug-in, your IT department will likely spend hours setting the software up at each monitor, and employees face downtime during the process as well. And what happens when an update is needed? You must foresee these potential hurdles and have a plan for navigating through the implementation process. Just like your daily tasks within the organization, you have to be ready to facilitate these transitions with great fidelity.
An option many are turning to is the SaaS solution, in which all software is stored in a secure data center. Typically, the only requirement for the buyer is access to the Internet and Flash software installed on the hardware systems. This setup is not only advantageous because no plug-ins are required, but also because users achieve wider mobility, gaining access from anywhere the Internet is available. Since the entire software system is handled through the vendor, those pesky software updates are managed through the vendor, as well.
What Level Of Mobility Is Achieved With Your IWMS Solution?
Perhaps one of the most valuable options technology has afforded us is mobility. As a growing number of organizations offer their employees telecommuting options, while others jet set globally for client and corporate meetings, the need for mobility has expanded exponentially. It has no longer become an option, but rather a necessity. But, since Internet access is not always an option, investing in a solution that is cloud-based may not be enough. It is important to align yourself with a software vendor who recognizes all of your mobility demands, with mobile app solutions that can be accessed from any type of mobile device.
If your organization is not presently mobile, research on this growing trend will convince you of its necessity in the near future. By partnering yourself with a FM software company that can support those evolving obligations, you ensure each transition is as seamless as possible.
Since the Facilities Management profession is about the people you serve, it is important to invest in an IWMS solution that is people-based. It must be built around, and for, those who will utilize the tools day in and day out. Of course, it is critical the modules are built to maintain and manage the company’s physical assets, but they must be designed with the users in mind. FM teams should work closely with their team, IT, and HR department heads to identify what would make their jobs easier and more efficient. Processes should encourage collaboration across departments, with each module automated to communicate with others. Your investment must have complex capabilities, while the user’s end should be quick and easy to maneuver, ensuring the entire team is on board.