Your role as the workplace manager is about blending the people, space, and workplace tools, so the facility runs like a well-oiled machine. Your team works assiduously to ensure the space and enterprise assets are well-managed and that the workforce has the tools needed to be engaged and productive. Your organization has invested in a bevy of software solutions, each designed for their individual task. So, why aren't your systems working as smoothly as they could?
The harsh truth is that your homegrown solution may not be up to the task at hand. Choosing an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) that's designed specifically for managing the facility is the best choice when your goal is improved processes and organizational efficiency.
Complications with Integration & Transparency
To truly strengthen these processes, you must first improve visibility and communication. Each business critical application should integrate seamlessly with the others, ensuring all data is up-to-date and that decisions are made based on the most relevant information. Such integration streamlines processes, eliminates redundancy, and reduces chances for error. Your homegrown system must be able to deal with these complexities with ease and flexibility.
The IT Challenge
When you're creating a homegrown facilities management system, you’re faced with two challenges. Your IT department understands the technology, but they may not thoroughly understand the complexities of workplace management. While a custom, homegrown solution might meet your most basic needs, you will likely have to find ways to work around the inadequacies, complicating processes you’re looking to streamline.
Conversely, your workplace management team likely doesn’t understand the logistics behind the technology. So, while the system they design considers the details needed to properly manage a facility, they may implement tools that are inadequate at tracking and managing organizational needs. You might be able to run data reports you need, but be limited in how and when users can gain access. You'll have to work to fill in the gaps, wasting valuable time and leaving your enterprise exposed to errors.
The primary focus of your job as the workplace manager is to improve efficiencies and, in turn, the bottom line. Consider the resources needed to build such a system - assets, time, and, most importantly, your people. Is this the best use of your assets and budget - having your workforce reinvent software that is already available and has a proven track record? Obviously each enterprise’s situation is unique, but this is something to consider when weighing all your options.
How Long Will My System Be Relevant?
Software developers spend countless hours ensuring their solution remains relevant in the ever-changing business environment. As companies evolve, so, too, do their needs. Many homegrown solutions are implemented and then forgotten, with the developers only addressing critical issues and bugs as they are reported. As time goes on, and organizational needs expand, the business begins to outgrow the tool. End users fail to report issues, instead devising workaround strategies to compensate for the system’s shortcomings.
These workarounds add up over time, chipping away at process efficiency. The result, is a product that has outlived its benefits and is costing the company in both time and money. To avoid the woes of an irrelevant solution, evaluate your organization’s long-term goals and where your tool fits in to the big picture.
Consistency of a Homegrown System
If you are able to get a homegrown IWMS tool that meets your needs, the other challenge is that the IT support staff who created the system may move on in their career path. Or what if they are out sick when you have a question? Systems developed in-house often lack adequate long-term technical support, leaving you with nowhere to turn when you have a question or a suggestion for improvement.
Although it is convenient at first to have your developers in-house, we all can agree that things change in an office; and if you're not supported, your workload will suffer.
It’s Like Trying to Fit a Square Peg in a Round Hole
Have you ever used a wrench to try and hammer a nail? While you may have been able to complete your task, it was likely a frustrating and inefficient ordeal. The same goes for your workplace management tool. Generic systems such as Word, Access, and Excel are wonderful at what they do. They can store and manipulate data. Cloud-based tools like Dropbox and Evernote can also be very useful for your business, allowing your staff to communicate and share files when working remotely. However, none of these are a complete substitute for a tool that's designed specifically for your needs: asset management, space management, and facilities maintenance.
As the workplace manager, it is your responsibility to outline preferences for the software development team. Consider your goals for the project and strike a balance between time, resources, and budget allocated to the software build. Look for an IWMS that is designed with your needs in mind, both now and into the future. Investing in a third party solution is often the most affordable and efficient way to assist in achieving those goals.