As a CRE/FM professional, you coordinate the physical (and increasingly digital) workplace and strive to match the changing needs of today’s workforce with available space and physical assets. It’s a challenging job that requires you and your team to integrate multiple disciplines to ensure the functionality of the built environment: maintenance planning, service delivery, helpdesk and work order execution, energy monitoring, space and move management, etc.

Growing domain convergence

The need for integration is reinforced by disruptive trends in the workplace. Trends that are driving convergence between the domains of real estate, workplace, and facility management:

  • Agile workplaces and smart working strategies have an effect on real estate investments
  • FM strategies are important to the way people work and play a growing role in employer branding
  • Real estate portfolio decisions are impacted by the total life-cycle cost of facility management

To match the accelerated pace of change and innovation, analyst firm Gartner in their latest report recommends organizations to benefit from the opportunities of a rapidly evolving IWMS market.

The case for an integrated management tool

There are many stand-alone software tools available to help you manage a specific area such as energy, maintenance, or reservations. The catch is that in reality these areas are not stand-alone; they are connected in multiple ways. Let’s look at some examples to make this clearer:

  • Preventive maintenance impacts on energy consumption
  • Improved facilities stock management enables smoother work order execution
  • Dynamic room and workplace reservations affect space usage and planning
  • A change in space allocation may require a different cost distribution
  • A move out inspection triggers maintenance work orders
  • Refurbishment projects influence the yield on commercial real estate
  • Lease accounting changes (FASB) have significant effects on RE data capture and reporting requirements

A siloed approach to facility management, using disparate tools, makes it hard to see all these connections and understand their impact. A lack of integration also multiplies the risk of human errors, due to manual data exchange, and causes poor decision making due to different data definitions. It basically means that businesses are not in control of their real estate and lack insight into the overall performance.

Even if your current need is for software support to manage a specific activity area (e.g. preventive maintenance), it is always a good idea to consider a solution that is part of a modular, integrated platform. That way you can start with one solution and gradually – whenever your organization is ready for it – deploy other components.

Multi-level integration

Industry experts like Gartner are aligned on this: to optimize workplace resources, an integrated suite of software functionality providing end-to-end process control and standardized reporting is a prerequisite. But there are more dimensions to integration that you should take into consideration:

  • User experience: Streamline the user experience across all touchpoints ( web, mobile, interactive touchscreens, and kiosks). It will help you to increase user adoption and contributes to creating a more productive work environment
  • Hardware integration: Check whether IWMS/CAFM software is able to connect with external sources, such as energy meters and occupancy sensors. If your organization has invested in a BMS in the past, you may want the software to be able to integrate data from that system too, thereby leveraging your existing IT investment.
  • 3rd party integration: Integration of suppliers’ services into your business processes, improves your ability to track the quality and cost of those services. It means for example that you could remunerate your maintenance provider based on realized asset condition. 3rd party connectivity is also about capturing data from CAD and BIM into the platform or integrating with company-wide ERP software, such as SAP.
  • Internet of Things: IoT integration can support you to create a better work environment through agile space management and effective deployment of resources, based on accurate utilization data from sensor networks.

MCS Solutions works collaboratively with businesses to create synergies across real estate, facilities, and workplace management. Please contact us if you would like to explore more.