Last week, I facilitated a panel of industry experts at Total Facilities Live in Melbourne on the subject of Integrated Workplace Management Systems and Best of Breed Technologies. This subject has been in constant debate since the “big guns” arrived in the region. Best of Breed solutions have been doing battle with them and trying to position themselves in the market for over a decade. What are the differentiators? Are there any? Why choose one over another?
With the benefit of 4 Subject Matter Experts with 45 years of experience providing the Audience with 45 minutes’ worth of their collective thoughts, this was the outcome.
1. IMWS vs Best of Breed – What is Better?
Corporate Real Estate in our regional market has evolved to the place where Point Solutions are really no longer adequate for supporting a centralised CRE organisation model, cost savings initiatives and more. That being said, the panel said that few organisations have actually taken advantage of a full suite IWMS solution and even less used the entire functionality offered by these technologies. There reality is that these organisations that invest heavily (or have been sold heavily on a full stack solution) have not realised an adequate return on their investment from their IWMS technology.
Incidents of over investment and under-utilisation have led to the rise of Best in Breed solutions offering their wares to the market, principally on the back of failed IWMS implementations but also using the premise that an organisation should only source the solution with the products and features it requires using the latest technology to ensure maximum flexibility and minimal risk.
While under-utilisation is rarely a consequence of deficient technology, the panel did agreed that implementation problems could be traced to the business model employed to deliver the technology in the first place. Indeed, the major problem was generally a lack of a clearly defined roadmap and poor/ insufficient requirements definition.
2. Integration and Data Migration
IMWS implementations have traditionally been viewed as large IT projects with all the predictable risks associated with integration and data migration. While there will always been a place for the traditional IWMS model in some CRE organisation that have the core competency, the willingness, and the budget to engage with these solutions, there are smaller and more nimble organisations that just do not require this type of technology and are best service to by agile best of breed solutions that integrate a number of disparate technologies to provide the optimal solution.
The panel agreed that the key issues to these types of solutions were ensure that APIs (application programming interfaces) were sufficient to allow workflow, automation and efficiency across whatever solutions were procure. The objective was to ensure that APIs allow everything to seamless work together – almost like an IWMS.
Data Migration was the bugbear of the panel conversation. Often, this was “forgotten” part of requirements by clients and created the most frustration and cost over-runs. It is the old adage of garbage in- garbage out. Unless the client’s data is presented to the vendor’s system as clean data, then the client will not get any benefit from the system. It is worth spending the extra time and money up front getting your data cleansed.
This topic is linked to a discussion on data ownership and drives a discussion on how the data is managed within the organisation. Whoever “owns” the technology has to deliver a business model based around key benefits, – reduced licensing and implementation costs, improved functionality based on true CRE best practices, reduced time-to-value that aligns with typical CRE outsourcing transitions, and reduced implementation risk that minimises the time involvement from already lean CRE teams. This business model would make IWMS more accessible to many more CRE organisations and improve their return on investment.
System ownership makes economic sense if the total cost of ownership is defrayed amongst as many users as possible. This would mean that Service Providers would therefore offer the most viable way of delivering the solution.
The panel discussed the fact that there is inherent risk with the Service Provider owning the system that manages the client data; risks include – cost to provide configured reports, specific screen customisations, end of contract data migration, etc. These can be mitigated through tighter contract controls.
4. SaaS or On Premise
The panel agreed that this was a “horses for courses” issue in that it really depended whether IWMS was your core technology or not. This somewhat played to point (3) above. Points covered in the discussion were cost of entry; total cost of ownership; cash flow, timing, and accounting; scalability inflexibility; customisation; geolocation of data; deployment time and user acceptance; and security.
While a SaaS deployment seems to have the advantage in all areas above, it is not without its own challenges, said the panel. A significant number of SaaS deployments fail due to data integration – and this goes back to Point 2. Additionally, the size and the culture of the organisation, budget, integration requirements and regulatory constraints will also drive whether your IWMS should be an on-premise or SaaS deployment.
The Panel was clear: There is no one right answer. Companies need to develop a technology roadmap that is consistent and reflective of their business model. Moreover they need to accurately translate their business model into specific requirements which can be quantified by a vendor, costed and formulated into a defensible implementation plan.
For further information on how to develop a roadmap for your company’s CRE/ FM technology and define IWMS/ Best of Breed Requirements that will translate into a clearly establish operating framework, please contact BeyondFM today.