Whether you are implementing an IWMS for the first time or making upgrades through added modules, it is important to outline your reasoning for making such a move. Ask yourself and your team some guided questions and leave room for additional questions and concerns to be aired during these discussions. But, what exactly should you be asking? Where do you start and what kind of answers should you expect?
Know Your Business
Before you make any choices on hardware and software, you should define the needs of your organization. What kind of business do you have and, more importantly, how will new systems support and assist your business? Think about what is most valuable for the type of business you are managing. For instance, if you are a FM for a company which has multiple warehouses, then asset tracking and facilities management would be an important feature; but if your organization were more centered around people in office situations, then space and visitor management may be more applicable. Create these discussions of necessity with the C-suite as well as the team working for you so you can consider as many angles as possible to make a choice for IWMS that is the right fit.
After refining your organization’s needs, the very first question or concern, regarding implementation and integration of technology, should relate to how the new system(s) will interact with your existing systems. Are they naturally compatible or will extra hardware/software be necessary? Surprise added expenses can adversely affect how the new changes are perceived, especially by upper management who are often driven more by bottom line figures than potential benefits. Make sure the vendor for SaaS is exceedingly familiar with your existing systems, so you can both come together to make the most educated decision for new technology.
Set Your Budget
Although added costs are sometimes unavoidable, it is wise to set budgetary parameters. Be realistic about what you need and what the organization can afford. Remember to define the areas of highest need and avoid adding extra modules simply because they might be useful later. Remember, you can always add modules and services, as needed later.
Sell to the C-Suite
Support for changes needs to be company wide and one of the key groups to get on board is upper management. They are usually the group most concerned with expenditures and they need to understand the necessity for new and additional systems. Explain the value as an investment that will streamline processes and create greater productivity. And by involving C-Suite from the beginning, you are more likely to generate support for additional changes in the future.
The other vital group to court is your own team. Although they may realize the benefits more readily, it is still important for them to see new tools as help and not a hindrance. Again, involve your team from the onset and let them tell what areas they think need the SaaS assistance the most. In these discussions, you will also gleam insight about what your team is doing day to day and where there are friction points that an observer may not recognize at first. Always empower your workforce through inclusion and you will gain loyalty as well as knowledge.
Another key for gaining support with C-Suite comes in showing actual data that supports the new systems. Fortunately, most Integrated Work Management Systems are gathering real-time metrics constantly. Discuss with your vendor the ways in which the data can be collected and referenced and create a system for distributing this information back to management.
With so many offices and FM teams going to mobile and satellite operations, it is critical that your system be equipped to keep information and people in touch at all times. What type of devices will be able to interface with the IWMS? How secure are the mobile connections? Are mobile apps provided with the SaaS? These and other related questions are critical to discuss before deciding on a new system to ensure your team is on the cusp of technology and not struggling to keep up because of outdated designs.
Continuing Training and Education
Speaking of staying at the forefront, inquire with the vendor what kind of training and continual education support they can offer. Your team needs to get the most out of the technology available and this comes from knowing the tools inside and out. and once implementation is complete, there should be the opportunity to continue individual and team growth. Again, empowering your people only serves to emblazon them to you and the organization.
In the overall process of designing and implementing the IWMS software, you should always think to the future and the possibility of upgrading or expanding. Inquire with your vendor about these options and how they will transpire. Is the vendor handling all system updates and upgrades, as necessary? Do they have module expansions and related add-ons? How much and what kinds of additional hardware and software will be needed for the upgrades? And have frank discussions about cost vs. features and benefits with you, the vendor and C-suite, so there is no confusion moving forward.
If there is a problem, who are you going to call? Communicate with the vendor and your team the methods for receiving tech support before, during and after implementation. Make sure there is a plan for handling issues and downtime is one of the most debilitating situations an FM team can encounter.
Our experts agree that a phased implementation is the most efficient approach when installing an IWMS. Since there are several entry points to these systems, Karpook and Barrett say clients should start with whichever application will deliver the most immediate value.
Defining these areas of consideration should help in the planning and implementation process for an IWMS. Of course, you might have other questions and concerns, specific to your organization. Create a checklist to refer to when discussing these proposed changes with C-Suite, your FM team and the vendor to make the process the smoothest and most productive for all involved.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.