While no one person invented lean, no one is given more credit than Taiichi Ohno, father of the Toyota Production System. Many lean students would want nothing more than to spend a day with Taiichi Ohno walking through their plant. Real estate and related plant and material is typically the most valuable tangible asset companies have.

The workplace has experienced dramatic changes in the last ten years. Worker mobility enabled by network and wireless technology has revolutionized work styles and workplace culture that require new system support tools and services. Global terrorism has radically increased focus on disaster recovery and business continuity to the extent that workplace resiliency is no longer an option. The intense focus on business compliance, specifically via the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley, demands new levels of transparency and data integrity relative to workplace processes and costs. And the “green revolution” centers on workplace sustainability, particularly relating to energy efficiency, and long-term sustainability of enterprise buildings and workplace environments. These trends coupled with a continued drive toward workplace cost containment, worker productivity and asset efficiency have now risen to the senior executive agenda, demanding new levels of sophistication, precision and excellence in the management of workplace assets, services and processes.

Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) and the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) markets altered considerably over the last two years. The IWMS market experienced rapid growth and is expected to grow at 10 percent a year, according to Gartner Group. The EAM market landscape has had a face lift; virtually every EAM vendor has been acquired in the past two years, but none of them have been consolidated, so there are still just as many as before. In addition, these two areas have grown somewhat closer together, as more assets are becoming IT-enabled.

The IWMS market focuses on enterprise-level software applications that integrate four key areas: project management, real estate portfolio and lease management, space management, and maintenance management. The software typically operates from a single database and offers work flow tools, executive dashboards, and pre-defined and customized reporting capabilities for multiple sites. Most of these applications can inter-operate with other enterprise applications, such as ERP, supply chain management and human capital management via Web service technologies.

EAM offerings, a subset of ERP systems, evolved from computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and primarily center around materials and maintenance management functionality. These offerings tend to be simpler in scope than traditional CMMS offerings and focus on single-site deployments. Functionality also focuses on planning and execution.

According to Gartner, IWMS covers things like real estate, space utilization, leasing, rental, and some areas of facilities management. Companies investigating IWMS should consider those firms in the upper right quadrant of Gartner’s charts. No World Borders helps clients discern the leaders that fit for your firm, and provide consultation services to help select, implement, and facilitate the change processes to optimize your ability to capitalize on the investment in an IWMS.

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