Compare IWMS: How to Conduct a Needs Analysis

by Elizabeth Dukes on January 15, 2016

If you’ve ever gone through the process of purchasing a home, you understand the importance of seeking a solution that not only fulfills your current needs, but allows for growth. It’s a careful balance between staying within your means and planning for future expansion. To help you determine your wants and needs, you probably sat down with a real estate agent and defined your goals before touring properties.

In many ways comparing IWMS is similar to searching for a home—it has to fulfill several needs, wants and expectations. It has to solve all the challenges you’re currently experiencing while promoting and nurturing future growth. But how do you define these objectives as you compare IWMS options and prepare for implementation? It all starts with a needs analysis.

Today, we’ll focus on what a needs analysis looks like and the five areas you need to consider before choosing an IWMS.


What is a Needs Analysis?

A needs analysis, sometimes called a needs assessment, is a process used by businesses to examine current conditions, desired conditions and the gaps in between. In short, it’s a way of taking stock of everything keeping you from reaching success with your current solution so you can look for these benefits in your new solution. A good analysis also will help you determine what your company needs to do to ensure successful implementation. After all, even the best IWMS can still fail if your team isn’t ready to do its part.

If completed correctly, your needs analysis will help simplify your search and choose the best product for your company’s short-term and long-term objectives, and help you hit the ground running with your new solution.

Now that you know what a needs analysis can do for you, let’s talk about the five areas to consider.

The Five Steps of an IWMS Needs Analysis

Every FM department takes a different approach to its needs analysis. For example, some facilities managers may form a committee and create a detailed document while others may run through a simple checklist. Whatever your method, make sure to examine the following five areas.

  1. Key Contacts
    One of the most important pieces of any project is determining who will be involved. While IWMS software may be something chosen by a facilities manager, its usage will affect every team and employee. In other words, this is no time to stay siloed. When it comes to implementing the new system, you’ll need IT specialists, an operations team member and full leadership support. Identify who will be involved and the responsibilities of each individual.
  2. Short-term and Long-term Goals
    As you review possible options and begin to roll out your new solution, it’s important to identify clear goals. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish in the next quarter, the next year and the next five years. Set quantifiable benchmarks that can be easily measured and reviewed. For example, a good benchmark might be, “Decrease energy expenses by 10 percent year over year.”
  3. Project Timeline
    One of the most important aspects of any new project is the timeline. Underestimating the time it takes to implement a solution can cause your leadership team—and your peers—to lose faith in your decision. On the other hand, overshooting the timeline can also make people question your preparedness. Instead, set a realistic goal and develop a comprehensive process to keep all key players on track. Be sure to allow time for employee education.
  4. IWMS Features
    Before you even select an IWMS, rank the most important components. Consider which aspects of the tool you’ll be using to solve immediate needs, as well as which aspects would be nice to have in the future. This will help you set your timeline and goals, and determine who should be involved at which stage of rollout.
  5. Data and Information
    Manpower and time are important pieces of implementation, but there’s one more crucial piece you’ll need to bring to the table: company information. Don’t wait until kickoff day to begin compiling the data your new IWMS provider needs to get you going. If you’re not sure what items are necessary, ask a representative from your provider for a needs list.

Getting Started

As mentioned earlier, even if you choose the best IWMS money can buy, without a well-defined needs analysis and carefully devised implementation strategy, you may not enjoy the success you expect. By following the five steps listed above, you can work toward a worry-free rollout and begin experiencing the benefits of your IWMS immediately. Best of all, you will exceed your goals and achieve buy-in from the most important influencers: the leadership team.

Buyers interested in IWMS applications should determine which applications can address their needs and which they should install first. Companies that choose to implement the entire integrated system, however, have the operational awareness to make smarter business decisions.

Looking for more tips on how to get the C-suite to invest in an IWMS for your company? Check out our free eBook: The Ultimate IWMS Buyer’s Guide: Selling Workplace Management Software to the C-suite.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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