What is an IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System)?

Joe Du Bey
March 24, 2021

An IWMS, or an integrated workplace management system, is a suite of software-as-a-service (SaaS) products used to increase workplace efficiency and improve employee experience for a company. Unlike individual end-point software solutions, what makes an IWMS special is in its comprehensiveness –– an IWMS enables a company to manage many or even all key workplace functions from the same software vendor. 

What software products are typically included in an IWMS?

An IWMS typically includes the following key software products:

  • Visitor management
  • Pandemic team safety and contact tracing
  • Desk booking (also known as hot desking)
  • Conference room scheduling
  • Floorplanning and move management
  • Internal ticketing (also known as IT service desk or ITSM)
  • Mail and deliveries management
  • Facilities management

Who uses an IWMS?

IWMS platforms are used by thousands of companies; these software platforms are especially popular with businesses that have more than one office location and want to consolidate many end-point software solutions behind one primary software vendor. Customers can be as small as one 10 person team that needs a visitor management app to professionalize the guest experience at their shared space, and as large as Fortune 100 companies that need to actively manage a portfolio of hundreds of office locations.

The typical buyer of an IWMS is an IT Manager, Workplace Manager, Office Manager, Facilities Manager, or People Operations or HR team. That said, all employees in the company increasingly use the software. This manifests in many small ways each day for employees, such as inviting visitors on-site through the software, being notified when packages have arrived, booking a desk for a future office visit, or reserving a conference room for an upcoming meeting. Even a company’s visitors and vendors will typically engage with the IWMS, at least for visitor management software which helps them check-in at the front desk.

Why is product comprehensiveness useful in an IWMS?

Product comprehensiveness is a critical attribute in an IWMS given the significant number of separate but related workplace software products that are needed by a workplace, IT, or people operations team for managing employee interaction with the physical office space. Without an IWMS that is comprehensive, a company would need to use several software vendors to procure the same suite of applications required. More vendors typically means a more fragmented user experience, worse data collection, and higher cost for companies. 

How have IWMS platforms changed over time?

Once upon a time, over a decade ago, the IWMS was just used by the real estate team of very large enterprises, and did not have engagement with most employees at a company. Back then, an IWMS primarily existed to ensure real estate planning and maintenance was done correctly by giant enterprises. As such, legacy IWMS platforms tend to be built for very large companies with a strong focus on traditional commercial real estate management.

Since the proliferation of the smartphone, companies suddenly could choose to provide a more inclusive and engaging software experience for all employees. By giving everyone in the company better tools to manage their workplace experience, businesses have consistently found that employees generally have a better experience and are more efficient at work. This change in mentality from “software for the real estate team” to “software to enhance all employee experience” was significant, and resulted in new IWMS market entrants providing software that was increasingly intuitive and mobile-first.

Since COVID-19 took the world by storm, IWMS platforms evolved even further. An immediate focus of some vendors was to build software that enabled team safety during a pandemic, allowing employee registration, health survey completion, and contract tracing. In addition, some IWMS vendors began to build for a post-pandemic new normal that featured the hybrid office or “work from anywhere” policies, including desk booking software. 

What differentiates different IWMS platforms?

Different IWMS vendors have different attributes. The main differentiators are as follows:

  • Comprehensiveness –– Some IWMS platforms provide all of the software products required to manage a workplace. Some vendors provide a subset, or go very deep around functionality in a specific workplace software product.
  • Intended Users –– Some IWMS platforms are built for widespread employee engagement, typically with special administrative controls for the workplace, IT, and people team, whereas some are not intended to be used by most employees.
  • Available integrations –– An IWMS can be a “connective tissue” software, integrating with many other software products to provide a holistically useful experience. This is especially true for companies that use internal messaging tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, and a thoughtful integration for both that is built into an IWMS across all products tends to be key for such companies.
  • Customer Size –– Some IWMS vendors build software for companies of all sizes, and some are really focused on large enterprises. 
  • Incorporate Needs of the Hybrid World –– We are entering a new era, and for many companies, their workplace software will need to address the increased administrative headache of smaller office footprints, hub and spoke locations, more floating seat assignments and a hybrid workforce.  
  • Price -– Different IWMS vendors price very differently. Vendors that historically sold into the Fortune 500 tend to start at a very high price. Some newer vendors tend to price lower, or even a la carte, on a per IWMS product module basis (eg, allowing the customer to just purchase visitor management software).
  • Implementation Time –– Some IWMS vendors require weeks or months to implement their software. Others allow you to start using the software immediately, without even talking to a sales representative. 

Eden Workplace is the leading IWMS for modern companies.

Eden Workplace is the IWMS built for the new era of hybrid office environments for companies of all sizes. We differentiate our product offerings through their comprehensiveness, ease of use, useful integrations, and a la carte pricing. Over 1,000 companies use one or more software products from Eden Workplace. 

IWMS product spotlight: Visitor management software.

Visitor management software is used by companies, small and large, to provide a modern and streamlined lobby experience for guests. Beyond the improved visitor experience, visitor management software also protects the company by offering the ability for guests to be better tracked and legally covered through documents such as an NDA. A typical visitor management software experience is for employees’ to be able to easily invite guests through the IWMS software or a messaging app integration, to have visitors to receive the office information via email, and for visitors to “check in” on site using a tablet app. Often the visitors will have their picture taken and a badge printed. 

IWMS product spotlight: Emergency response and pandemic protection software.

Emergency response and pandemic protection software enables customers to safely navigate an emergency scenario, especially a pandemic such as COVID-19. This software typically is the cousin of visitor management software, with similar functionality around enabling on-site visits through advance registration. The big difference is that pandemic protection software will allow you to ask pre-set questions to your team to ensure they are feeling well and are not at risk for illness, and also block registration for those who fail any pandemic safety questions. Pandemic protection or team safety software will also allow you to perform contact tracing in the case that a team member ends up feeling ill. Lastly, emergency response software typically allows group messages, in case you have an important and time-sensitive note that needs to be shared with all workplace visitors or team members in unison.

IWMS product spotlight: Desk booking or hot desking software.

Desk booking or hot desking software enables a company to offer a hybrid or unassigned seat environment to their employees, which is increasingly common with the shift to “work from anywhere”. This software is ideally paired with a mobile-friendly interface for your team, so they can easily book the seat they want to sit in while they are on-the-go, similar to how they may choose a seat for an upcoming flight.

IWMS product spotlight: Floor planning, space utilization, and wayfinding software.

An IWMS can also ensure you have a useful digital representation of your space, which enables you to easily visualize future design changes, moves of certain teams, and more. This floor plan software typically starts with you either uploading your floor plans or creating ones in the software, and then customizing it from there with components (such as new seating areas) or various points of interest to identify bathrooms, first aid kits, and more. 

Once you have your floor plans represented digitally, you can also enable employees and visitors to use your IWMS for wayfinding, which is using the software to know where they are going in the space! Wayfinding tools are especially useful for larger businesses who may have many buildings, and therefore it can be easier for new employees or visitors to get lost in different office locations.

IWMS product spotlight: Conference room booking or room scheduling.

When the office gets busier, conference room booking software is helpful to avoid employees commandeering a conference room all day or people wasting time trying to find an available location. Typical conference room booking software includes an app that works on an iPad or other tablet which can be shown outside all conference rooms in an office location. This app makes it easy for anyone walking by the conference room to see the name of the conference room as well as whether it is reserved. It also allows those holding the meeting to extend the meeting if there is not a subsequent group that requires the room. 

IWMS product spotlight: Internal ticketing or service desk software.

Internal ticketing or IT service management (ITSM) software is used by companies of all sizes to better manage any issues or requests from employees. Companies need their ticketing solution to properly route tickets to the correct organization within the business. For example, an IT team will need to receive tickets related to laptop issues, while an HR team will want to know if any new employees need to be onboarded. Within a ticketing platform, each organization can also set a service catalog of different kinds of common requests, to help simplify the asking process for all team members and streamline the receipt. Ticketing solutions often come equipped with a knowledge center as well, which can make it easy for companies to share answers to commonly requested questions, thereby streamlining tickets even further. 

IWMS product spotlight: Mail and deliveries management

With the rise of ecommerce, there are more packages being ordered than ever before. Combine that trend with the challenges many people have with package theft for items left outside of their homes during daytime hours, and you can see why many people choose to have packages sent to the office. To help your workplace team retain their sanity, while enabling all employees to not have to check the mail room each day, it is advisable to use a mail and deliveries software module of an IWMS. This mobile-friendly solution enables your workplace team to simply notify the package recipient of the item’s arrival, and the recipient can pick it up at their leisure. 

IWMS product spotlight: Facilities management software.

For scaled facilities teams who manage a wide range of locations, it can be helpful to use a specialized kind of ticketing product in the form of facilities management software. In an IWMS, facilities management software is used by enterprises to track the physical assets in a location, schedule preventative maintenance for those assets, and respond to as needed work orders. Some facilities management software solutions also assist with project management, as well as lease management.

Environmental sustainability.

Workplace software can help your company be a good global citizen. Positive environmental impacts of an IWMS include the following:

  • Conference Room Utilization –– With room scheduling software, you can ensure energy is preserved by reducing lighting and / or temperature in areas that have less traffic. This conservation  technique can be accelerated through an IWMS integration with a motion sensor vendor, providing even more precise data around utilization.
  • Smaller Real Estate Footprint –– IWMS products such as desk booking enable companies to welcome their workforce into the hybrid era, thereby allowing the businesses to reduce their commercial real estate footprint.
  • Asset Management ––  Within a facilities management module, asset management software will prolong the life of your fixed assets, ensuring you are using items on-site the recommended duration and avoiding waste.

Magic Quadrant for IWMS.

The Magic Quadrant is a scoring framework created by Gartner, a market research company, to make it easier for those who purchase software to choose the right vendor for their needs. The X-axis of the Magic Quadrant informs the viewer about the completeness of the vision of the software vendor. The Y-axis helps companies better understand the ability of different vendors to execute upon their vision. The companies in the four quadrants each have their own titles: 

  • Top right or quadrant 1: “Leaders”
  • Top left or quadrant 2: “Challengers”
  • Bottom left or quadrant 3: “Niche”
  • Bottom right or quadrant 4: “Visionaries”

Gartner has a Magic Quadrant for the IWMS category, and it shows their analysis of this emerging category and its various players. Gartner defines the IWMS category as follows: 

“An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) is a software platform used by IT, facilities management and real estate professionals to manage the end-to-end life cycle of corporate facilities. It helps optimize the use of workplace resources to provide an improved employee experience. It also assists in cost containment by monitoring the real estate portfolio.”

Alphabet soup: IWMS vs. CAFM vs CMMS vs. CAFM vs. EMS vs. BMS

There are far too many acronyms to describe the category of software that relates to management of offices and the people who work in it. That said, there are significant differences in these tongue-tying offerings. To help clear up the confusion, check out the below. 

  • IWMS –– An Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) is the primary software suite of products for companies who need to manage modern offices, and enable team-wide engagement in the software. Modern IWMS offerings focus on human engagement in addition to considering the management of the building and space.
  • CMMS –– A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is software used by facilities managers primarily for maintenance tasks. It is particularly popular in industrial categories, such as factory settings, and focuses on capturing data essential to maintaining expensive physical assets.
  • CAFM –– Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) software expands upon a CMMS to add other integrated software products. This is a close cousin of the IWMS, but a CAFM does not necessarily focus on the workplace and is more building-centric and less human experience oriented. CAFM is a term more commonly heard in Europe.
  • EMS –– An Environmental Management System is used strictly to manage an organization’s environmental and sustainability initiatives. 
  • BMS –– A Building Management System (BMS) is used to monitor and manage a building’s electrical equipment. Such items could include the fire safety equipment, temperature control, and other core infrastructure.

As you can see, an IWMS is the way to go for companies that need a suite of software to engage employees and manage an office setting, especially in this new hybrid era!

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