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IWMS+ Implementation: Choosing the Right Solution

September 22, 2020

Although an IWMS+ is a relatively new technology that takes advantage of significant advancements in the cost and quality of sensors, it is built on a very mature technology, the integrated workplace management system (IWMS). This presents both challenges and opportunities for implementation.

Choosing the right solution diagrams

Marrying the Old and the New

One of the challenges of implementing an IWMS+ is that most large organizations already have an IWMS in place, which means a “big bang” rollout of a comprehensive solution may not always be practical. While some IWMS providers like Spacewell offer both parts of the IWMS+ solution, the same is not true for all IWMS or smart building software providers. Likewise, the specific features and focus of the software solutions will also vary from vendor to vendor.

An obvious solution to this puzzle is to simply combine the existing IWMS with the preferred smart building solution to build a functional IWMS+. This will nearly always be an option and will simply require some form of integration between the two systems. The drawback of this approach is that it can be complex to set up, particularly when there are numerous automated triggers that need to communicate with different systems.

Additionally, there is the potential for issues to arise when one or both systems goes through an upgrade. Even as system changes or new features drive improvements on one side, the connections established between the separate systems might break down and need to be reestablished. This coordination issue is unlikely to arise with a fully-integrated system where changes to either the IWMS or smart building platform are fully tested before release. Finally, using separate vendors eliminates the possibility of economies of scale, potentially resulting in additional license costs.

The Big Bang vs. Incrementalism

Alternatively, a potential adopter can choose to replace their IWMS as they migrate their entire system to a single IWMS+ provider. This overcomes the integration, upgrade, and cost issues mentioned above, but can be a daunting task given the size and complexity of an IWMS.

For companies unwilling to make such a significant commitment in a single step, it is possible to activate add-ons to a smart building system that have some features of an IWMS (like a reservation system or maintenance ticketing). Additionally, there are also “lighter” versions of an IWMS, as discussed in a recent Spacewell blog post about digital transformation. Both of these options would allow adopters to roll out partial, versions of an IWMS that operate in parallel to the existing IWMS, providing experience with the alternative system before committing to a full IWMS migration.

Ultimately, organizations interested in IWMS+ should engage in a candid conversation with multiple providers to understand their options and to ensure that their preferred solution fully meets their needs. One essential part of this conversation should address the software provider’s position on hardware. When the software vendor is also a hardware producer, there are potential price advantages, but there is also a risk that the organization will be locked into a specific hardware solution rather than being able to pick and choose from the best available technologies in a rapidly evolving market.

Best Practices

As we have seen throughout this blog series, there are significant benefits from an IWMS+ system. However, the cost of a full IWMS and all of the hardware associated with a smart building platform can be substantial. For organizations with simple workflows and a small physical footprint, the potential returns from the solution may not be sufficient to justify the investment of time and resources, though this may change if hardware prices fall. At present, the value of an IWMS+ rises with scale and complexity, being particularly well suited for complex, innovative, or large organizations with evolving needs. In such cases, data-driven insights into how spaces are being used are particularly valuable, creating substantial opportunities for optimization.

Even for a large organization, it may be well-advised to deploy the smart building solution in a scaled manner, beginning with a single building before rolling out to a full portfolio. This provides an opportunity to build internal stakeholders and proponents, the topic of the final blog post in this series.

This post is Part 9 of a 10-part blog series on IWMS+. Earlier posts introduced the concept of IWMS+ and a range of smart building topics. If you’d like to receive notifications about future additions to this series and other Spacewell knowledge content, please sign up here.

Nicole Weygandt, Ph.D.

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