When you're comparing IWMS vendors, it can be difficult to tell one solution apart from another on the surface. Many integrated workplace management systems appear to check the same boxes in terms of features and functionality. Most have space management at their core. Others have some level of facilities management, real estate planning, and energy optimization. Some might also include a few workplace services, such as room reservation, or visitor management.
Yet when it comes to ease of use, data analytics, maintenance, and upgrades — there are clear differences. Unfortunately these differences may not appear as glaring red flags until after you've implemented your IWMS.
And at a time when concerns about coronavirus are forcing workplace leaders to reevaluate their office footprints, floor plans, policies, and procedures, it's critical to have a system that is flexible enough to keep up with constant change.
Asking the right questions as you compare IWMS vendors will help you dive deeper into what matters most and identify the best software system for your organization. Here are a few basic questions and some more in-depth ones that will give you better insight.
Basic questions to ask IWMS vendors first
What features does your system include?
An IWMS is a significant investment that will impact many facets of your organization, from facilities management to IT and HR. Before anything else, you need to have a firm understanding of the needs of your workforce and your facilities. This will help you to stay focused on the most essential features and not become distracted by those that might be nice to have, but are not necessary.
Make sure you have fully developed and documented your business processes before you make your list of essential features. You'll also need to have discussions with key stakeholders about the business objectives you want to achieve with the help of an IWMS and how you will measure the return on investment. Without clearly defining your business processes and goals, you'll have a hard time choosing an IWMS that will meet your needs.
What is your pricing model?
The cost of an IWMS can range from $50,000 to $800,000, depending on the size and complexity of the system, according to a recent Verdantix analysis. When you're making such a substantial investment, IWMS pricing will undoubtedly be an important consideration. Make sure you understand how each vendor's pricing model works. Is it a one-time purchase, or a subscription billed in monthly, quarterly or annual increments?
Ask about the cost of adding new functionality or new users. Consider the cost of maintenance and upgrades, too. For on-premise software, these costs can be significant.
Is the configuration flexible?
In an ideal world, an IWMS system will meet every unique business need while maintaining configuration flexibility. Though some solutions customize their software based on a customer's needs, a configurable solution is more pragmatic for most buyers. In practical terms, a configuration doesn't require extensive technical knowledge or IT personnel, as you might expect with customization.
Is the software installed or hosted?
Make sure to ask your IWMS vendor if their solution is installed or hosted. If installed, it can be a highly manual, time-consuming process to install future updates, one that could reduce your potential productivity. If maximizing efficiency and productivity is a concern, there are many IWMS vendors who have shifted to a SaaS (software as a service) model. The benefits are considerable, including:
- The costs are lower compared to the traditional model, since the hardware and software licenses are less expensive.
- There's no need to purchase additional software or equipment, because SaaS solutions reside in cloud environments that are scalable and integrate with other SaaS products.
- New releases or upgrades are provided much quicker and with much lower costs. There's no need to buy an upgrade package and perform any type of installation since it'll be done automatically on the users' behalf.
How easy is it to use?
Talking to IWMS vendors will help you rule out providers who don't meet your minimum requirements for functionality and budget, but to fully understand the user experience, you'll want to see a demo.
Pay close attention to the user interface and how intuitive it is. Do the screen layouts and buttons make sense? Do you need to constantly switch between modules or screens to find what you need? How easy it is for new users to learn?
Is there good product documentation or training? What kind of customer support does your potential solution offer? Even the most well-designed software can quickly lose support if your users are unable to learn how to use it. That's why it's so important to consider user experience as you look at the variety of IWMS solutions available.
IWMS vendor questions, beyond the basics
How can we use your software to reconfigure floor plans for physical distancing?
The coronavirus pandemic has introduced many new concerns for workplace leaders, including the need for physical distancing. In the latest PwC survey, more than 70% of CFOs said they planned to reconfigure their floor plans prior to reopening their offices. The right IWMS software will include robust space planning features, algorithms that automatically recommend new configurations, and the ability to create and implement new seating arrangements. This is important not only in terms of accuracy and effectiveness, but also because it makes the reconfiguration process easier.
What features do you have that can help us keep our workplace clean?
Along with physical distancing, maintaining a clean and sanitary workplace is a top priority. Facility maintenance software that integrates with IoT sensors, floor plans, and reservation software will give you deeper insight into how your spaces are actually being used so you can adjust your cleaning schedule accordingly. Ask IWMS vendors what workflows you can build with their solutions to make cleaning more efficient and cost-effective. For instance, you may want to create a workflow that sends your facilities management team a daily report showing which rooms and workspaces employees reserved each day so they can ensure they are properly sanitized.
Do you have a touchless visitor management system?
Most of us have become accustomed to using touchscreens without hesitation, but the coronavirus has made us think twice about doing so. Touchless technology, including no-touch visitor management, is becoming more popular in the workplace. It makes checking in as easy as scanning a QR code on your smartphone. Employees can pre-register guests or pre-register themselves if you decide you want to use your visitor management system for contact tracing. This will give you a digital record of everyone who has been in the office so you know who to notify if someone discloses they have tested positive for COVID-19.
It's plain to see that if you're investing in an IWMS solution, you should consider one that includes a touchless visitor management system.
Do you offer an employee mobile app?
As the workforce becomes more distributed, workplace leaders are recognizing the importance of an agile work environment. They're shifting away from assigned seats and moving toward reservable workspaces or activity-based working. And the right technology helps smooth the path of implementation.
Employees may not always be in the office, but when they are, they need to be able to find people quickly, reserve space, request service (such as sanitization for a recently used conference room), and receive visitors, and have access to important announcements.
You can connect a mobile app to your IWMS to make this easy. In addition to a better employee experience, it also helps turn valuable data into adjustments that measurably improve how the workplace is used.
Does your IWMS integrate with the technology we already use?
Few things are more frustrating than investing in a solution you thought would solve your problems, only to realize it doesn't work with any of the systems you already have. Look for a solution that integrates with standard applications — such as calendar apps, email, and Slack — as well as a variety of marketplace solutions like sensors and energy management software.
What is your vision for the future of the workplace, and how will your IWMS support it?
Sensors, smart buildings, and automation have continued to revolutionize the way we work.
Emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, and augmented reality are bringing new opportunities for an even more intelligent and employee-centric future workplace.
Gartner predicts that over the next several years, the greatest competitive advantage for organizations will come from their ability to creatively use these emerging technologies. This could manifest in many ways, from data that helps workplace leaders forecast future real estate needs to personal assistants that help employees book rooms, plan trips, and more.
If you want to start a revealing conversation, ask your IWMS vendors about their vision for the future of work. How do they plan to be part of that vision with their product roadmap?
Why choose the iOFFICE IWMS?
It's the most robust, user-friendly system you'll find on the market today.
We've always been innovators in workplace management software. iOFFICE's leaders were instrumental in founding the first-ever platform of its kind — one that was built to be 100% SaaS from the beginning. But we certainly haven't stopped there.
We've continued to advance our technology to keep up with ever-evolving workplaces.
Our research and extensive customer feedback revealed that the functionality of most traditional IWMS software isn't enough to meet the needs of the modern workplace. Unless they put workplace experience at the center, these systems may end up thwarting opportunities for improvement and fall short of expectations. So we've developed a new model — an integrated experience management system (iXMS).
As a strategy, iXMS is about continually simplifying, optimizing, and elevating the workplace experience.
As a solution stack, iXMS prioritizes space as the foundation to everything else in workplace management, but it also expands well beyond space and the other four pillars in IWMS. It's built on the principle that the workplace is constantly evolving, so it's designed to be flexible and integrate with a wide range of technologies — including some that don't even exist yet.
We know you expect your workplace to be agile, and we expect nothing less of ourselves.
That's why we've made it our mission to create the most responsive, frictionless workplaces everywhere — with the most connected software on the market.