IWMS: the magic bullet to improve services management?
What does a facility services provider look for in an IWMS (CAFM) system? These days, it must be a solution – not just a software package. The service provider is often looking to manage, or expand into, a broad range of services. This may start with their ‘core’ facility management services, and extend into workplace solutions, real estate management, and perhaps other associated corporate services.
Three areas have proven to be important, to deliver a fully encompassing IWMS solution:
- Real estate
- Facility management
But this alone will not make an IWMS solution unique. For customers, the key advantage of the best software solutions comes not just from the software itself, but from the people behind it. Having in-house FM consultants and software delivery experts (project engineers) is a key advantage for an IWMS software vendor, enabling them to offer support and guidance that customers are looking for.
Subject matter experts are often essential ‘interpreters’, between the software world, and the service provider world. The service provider knows its services, whether that includes all facility management services or a few specialist services, and whether it delivers real estate management or workplace change management. But the service company doesn’t necessarily know the software world to the same extent that these hybrid experts do. This provides a significant competitive advantage for an IWMS solution provider.
Who says it’s ‘best practice’?
Product managers, project engineers, and advisors (or consultants) can all add value to the process of implementation and ongoing management of the IWMS solution. Rather than just working within one organization, they work across many customers and liaise with external professional and standards bodies. Many have designed some of these best practices, based on long experience in the service provider domain, and with reference to ISO standards and local standards. This way, they can be relied upon to ensure that the software solution is kept right up-to-date.
Firstly, the software can be pre-configured with the legal norms and accepted standard for each country of operation. For multi-national service providers, this can save a lot of time and money. Later into implementation, it is also about optimizing the most efficient and effective processes, which the experienced service provider can tailor to end-user client type and its own organization.
Advisors also conduct regular benchmarking, to ensure that practices are updated whenever newer and better practices are developed. With the product managers, they routinely share best practices, and as a result, these practices are translated into the software.
How does the Advisory function speed up implementation?
With an in-house Advisory Department, a provider can establish a ‘smart start’, implementing best practices, built into the set-up of the software. This is possible largely because of the expertise, and many years of experience, of the advisors.
A template can be provided that can help customers in organizing a proof of concept. This can be done quickly. And within that proof of concept, the software provider can offer a limited scope, with embedded best practices. This is the preferable way to do things, based on experience and ‘norms’ that are being used. The customer can then establish whether that concept works for them.
Customers do not need much experience in IT. The system is pre-configured. They can use it, and it works for all service lines. Thereafter, if the customer needs more tailor-made configuration, that can be added …but the basic services are there at the beginning.
Get started fast; then build as you go
Most software providers cannot start fast, today. There is always a delay due to configuration. But with the most advanced IWMS solutions, customers can start almost immediately, using a phased roll-out strategy that begins with a limited scope (buildings, assets, templates).
There is some advantage in not changing the pre-configured software too much. With a “smart start”, the customer can get up and running very quickly, and guarantee that the reporting tools deliver what they want. The customer can then add some configuration later, but often it is not found to be necessary.
IWMS solution providers need a flexible approach, to match the experience of the customer
With the latest configurable software, the customer does not need to ‘program’ the software in any way. It is possible to have a lot of configuration done, based on customer requirements. That can be done by project engineers working for the software solutions provider. Or, if the customer is more technically advanced, their own people can do it themselves. This very flexible solution is essential.
Experience suggests, however, that most people ‘on-site’ do not have the level of expertise to do the configurations themselves. In these cases, it can be difficult to make the configuration happen – so the delivery team support is very valuable.
Some customers transferring from other software providers may have more experience with configuration, and may want specific things. They may need less help. After training, they can change the configuration themselves.
Customers need help to avoid spending too much money on configuration.
With a ‘smart start’, the initial configuration is intentionally limited. From a budget viewpoint, it will be limited to weeks, not months. In that short amount of time on site, the team can deliver a working IWMS system with reporting, within the defined scope.
Without a ‘smart start’, most software providers will start with a configuration of at least 20 working days. All that is ‘billable’ time to the customer, so there are large savings in the pre-configured approach.
The only data needed from the customer is collected in Excel files, then put through a tool enabling fast upload (e.g. MCS Data Enhancer), which makes it possible for the customer to work with the system immediately.
The implementation team will therefore not be importing large amounts of data objects. Rather, the idea is to facilitate the customer being able to start working with the software as soon as possible and to quickly see results. It may not be in full scope at this point, but the customer can get some functionality quickly. This means that work can be organized earlier, and improvements start to be made faster than would otherwise be the case with a long drawn out implementation period.
Without this standard best-practice pre-configuration, it has been found that many customers want to import a lot of data objects which often do not get used effectively later. This is a waste of time and money for the customer.
Integration of sensor data
Sensors are a growing part of what an IWMS solution does. In other words, there is an inbuilt system of transferring data from the sensor, to originate work orders (or ‘tickets’). The data goes to a central point, where it may (or may not) trigger a work order.
The ‘Smart Start’ process can still implement and connect these tools, for example including:
For occupancy and comfort, the service is based on sensors, which feed real-time data to an analytics platform.
In the services area, the sensor data may be converted into a ‘ticket’, and that then creates a service or action from a person on site. For example, a push-button sensor may send an order for coffee to the catering team. As the sensor is coded as being located in a specific place, the work order will direct the operative to the right place. Another example would be a ‘footfall camera’, which counts the number of people who have come through an area (say, reception) and will generate a work order after a specified number of people have passed.
Of course, there are all the usual ways also of requesting service actions, through email and telephone, and generation of templates online. But the integration of the sensor data is an additional ‘channel’ for the building users to feed through requests.
Improved customer service, and feedback
The IWMS solution, and new additions such as sensor technology, will continuously improve the services delivered to facility users. Some tasks will only ever be ‘hygiene factors’; i.e., they will not ‘satisfy’ customers as such, but just take away an element of possible dissatisfaction. But increasingly, fast reporting, and accurate direction of facility operatives to the right places, improves services. And monitoring sensors can mean that services are delivered before anyone has to go out of their way to report a problem.
In today’s world, customer satisfaction is increasingly important. And the IWMS solution that you implement has a significant impact on the level of customer satisfaction. With sensors, data can be immediate (rather than, say, once every 6 months via survey). It is also necessary to understand the sensitivity of the users to levels of service, and therefore have a system which can be adjusted to the needs of different customer groups, and different operational requirements.
Most of the work is already done …all you need to do is say ‘smart start’
Is it really possible to have an IWMS solution which is configurable to the needs of different groups, but can be efficiently implemented quickly to get a ‘smart start’? Can we really get a site up and running in a matter of weeks? The answer is definitely ‘Yes’. Contact us and we will show you exactly how…..