Is Integrated Facilities Management the Future?

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on July 21, 2020
The Next Generation of IWMS: iXMS

If your organization has dozens of different software systems and vendors, integrated facilities management (IFM) will streamline your operations and simplify your work life.

IFM brings order to your technology and processes by bringing many moving parts under one umbrella.

Here’s what you need to know about IFM, why so many organizations have adopted this method, and how you can make the switch as seamlessly as possible.

What is integrated facilities management?

Integrated facilities management is a method of consolidating all facility-related solutions and processes under one unified management group with a single point of contact. Typically, this means that one team manages all contracts, vendor relationships, space management, and real estate planning using a single software solution — or a central software system that integrates with others, and anyone can use.

At its core, IFM is a simple concept — hopefully, one you’ve already begun moving toward. After all, managing multiple disparate technologies and manually pulling data from a dozen different sources is inefficient, difficult to control, and less organized.

With the growing need for businesses to avoid being disrupted, the implications go even further. That’s because misaligned systems aren’t just frustrating, they slow down the ability to adapt quickly.

Before you can fully make the transition to integrated facilities management, you’ll probably need to convince others at your organization. Let’s talk about a few key benefits you can share with senior stakeholders to help earn their buy-in.

What are the benefits of integrated facilities management?

Switching to IFM offers numerous advantages for your organization — all of which can favorably impact your bottom line.

Here are a few.

Increased efficiency

Integrated facilities management helps you consolidate the entire structure of your facilities management strategy. In many cases, this means eliminating redundant software, ending unnecessary vendor contracts, and moving all responsibilities under one team. With fewer solutions and processes to juggle, you and your team will enjoy a more streamlined workflow and better organization of resources. This will help you work smarter, not harder, and accomplish more without exhausting all your time and energy. With IFM, you’ll have the freedom to work proactively.

Improved visibility

Without integrated facilities management, it’s impossible to know everything that’s going on in your workplace or real estate portfolio at any given time. To perform an analysis at the macro level, you need to switch between teams and solutions, collecting data from various sources.

With IFM, you’ll have full visibility into your properties and the most important facilities management metrics with simple, at-a-glance data visualization. You’ll be able to compile reports in minutes instead of days. With easy access to the insights you need, you can make better-informed decisions that optimize your workspace.

For instance, when the University of Kentucky implemented an integrated workplace management system (IWMS), it gained a single view of data from 100 different applications related to its property value, cost, and utilization. It used this platform to identify opportunities to consolidate buildings and achieve significant savings, according to a 2018 Verdantix report, The Business Case For Integrated Workplace Management Software.

Reduced operating costs

IFM is much more cost effective. Investing in ad-hoc software and hardware solutions may seem like a good idea in the moment, but over time those annual fees and maintenance costs can really add up.

Once you take time to identify the redundancies and overlap in your systems and begin consolidating your technology, it’s much easier to trim the fat. This can translate into massive savings for your organization.

And with less to manage, your department can work leaner and reallocate that extra budget into furthering your company’s digital transformation.

A happier, healthier workplace

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are more stressed than ever. It’s essential you create a functional workplace that’s not only comfortable and convenient but also safe. Integrated facilities management will make it easier to achieve this and help employees transition into the “new normal.”

For example, when you’re able to integrate your space management solution with your IoT sensors, room reservation software, and visitor management system, you can ensure employees have access to the resources and equipment they need while maintaining a safe office density. You’ll be able to make more strategic decisions with full visibility into your workplace operations.

How do you successfully implement integrated facilities management?

As a facilities leader, you know people can be resistant to change. So, how can you ensure your move to IFM will be successful?

Here are a few things you can do to ensure a positive experience.

Do your homework

Perform a thorough analysis of how existing office-based solutions are used within your organization. Look for inefficiencies, overlap, and opportunities to improve your employee experience. While your maintenance professionals may be hesitant to learn a new software, they may be more eager once you show them precisely how the solution will simplify their workday and eliminate common obstacles.

Moving to IFM can mean significant changes to your facility operations. By accounting for the learning curve and preparing a strategy ahead of time, you can eliminate issues that may slow your progress.

Identify and align your goals

Take time to determine your goals, how they align with broader organizational objectives, and how you’ll measure your performance. This way, you can optimize your efforts in real-time and ensure you have plenty of data to prove your success when it comes time to defend your spend to senior stakeholders.

Communicate consistently

Successfully transitioning to IFM is an exercise in project management. Use feedback surveys, host small group discussions, leverage internal advocates, and ensure people feel they can come to you with any questions or concerns.

In these scenarios, it’s better to over-communicate. Let teams know about the transition well ahead of time so they have ample opportunity to prepare. Then keep everyone informed of the changes along the way.

Consider outsourcing integrated facilities management services

Integrated facilities management doesn’t mean your in-house FM team has to handle everything. Sometimes it may make more sense to outsource facilities management services to a provider who specializes in a specific area, such as deep cleaning and sanitization.

Outsourcing can improve efficiency, reduce costs and give you access to more innovative technologies and processes. Just make sure that if you do use another provider, you all have access to the same data and workflows through a unified system. Your maintenance provider should be able to see space utilization data, which can help them clean more efficiently. Your in-house team should have full visibility into the maintenance provider’s activities as well so they can plan accordingly.

Choose the right IWMS

Perhaps most importantly, be sure you select the right technology. Much of your success depends on the integrated workplace management system you choose as the center of your facilities management. Take time to ensure your IWMS solution is flexible, user-friendly, and integrates with all the technology and applications your team already know and love. Make sure it has all the features you need to work efficiently — from managing space and room reservations to assets and service requests.

It’s also important to consider how it will align with your future business goals. For instance:

  • Does it offer a mobile solution?
  • Can it scale with your organization?
  • Is it easy to update without significant costs?

The last thing you want to do is switch to IFM only to become less efficient because you invested in the wrong technology. The right IWMS will support your goals and ensure you’re even more effective.

IFM can revolutionize your facilities management efforts by saving you time, money, and other precious resources. But moving to integrated facilities management isn’t like flipping a switch. It will take time. You’ll need to gradually end contracts with unnecessary vendors and equip teams with plenty of training instead of simply ripping and replacing one solution for another. The best IWMS providers will help you manage implementation, training, and continuing education so you can achieve success.


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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