Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS)  

by James R. Watson and Russ Watson, the Facilities O&M Committee
Updated by Jim Whittaker



What are IWMS?

Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) are FM information systems with the broadest functionality to support real estate and FM requirements. Effectively, IWMS have evolved from IWMS systems and are designed to encompass the entire life cycle of the facility, from design to construction and operations. IWMS are enterprise-class software platforms that integrate five key functional domains within a single hosted database. The functional domains typically include: Operations and maintenance management, space management and planning, real estate and lease management, project portfolio management, and environmental sustainability¹.

IWMS software provides the facility manager with the administrative tools and the ability to track, manage, report, and plan a variety of real estate, workplace management and facilities operations. For example, IWMS systems can contain data that identifies departments and staff, identifies and tracks who has space access rights and security level, as well as leased space information including leasing, income, and tenant charge-back information.

Not to confuse a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) with an IWMS system, consider a patient room in a hospital. Ensuring that the Nurse Call System in the room is "properly inspected, maintained, and repaired" is a CMMS activity. "Knowledge" about the medical department staff, and the specific patient(s) in the room, the room's contents (phones, TVs, beds–including their movement from room-to-room), and equipment connections (electrical, oxygen, communications, etc.) relate to IWMS activities.

Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) includes the creation and utilization of Information Technology (IT)-based systems in the built environment. A typical IWMS is defined as a combination of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and/or relational database software with specific abilities for Facilities Management (FM).

The purpose of a IWMS system includes:

  • Helping the facility manager ensure the organization's assets are fully utilized at the lowest possible cost, while providing benefit to every phase of a building's lifecycle, and
  • Supporting operational and strategic facility management, i.e. all of the activities associated with administrative, technical, and infrastructural FM tasks when the facility or building is operational, as well as the strategic processes for facilities planning and management¹.
IWMS illustration

IWMS consist of a variety of technologies and information sources that may include object-oriented database systems, CAD systems, Revit, Building Information Models (BIM), and interfaces to other systems such as a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). Today, most IWMS are web-based and provide a host of features including facilities related scheduling and analysis capabilities. Data may be collected from a variety of sources through technology interfaces or human transfer processes. Data may be stored, retrieved, and analyzed from a single data-store.


IWMS evolved in the late 1980's leveraging the personal computer (PC) to automate the collection and maintenance of FM information. Widespread usage of Information Technology (IT) systems in almost all disciplines eventually penetrated the construction and FM industry as well. After the development of Internet-based database systems, usage of high-end tools in FM practices increased in that sector. IWMS provided the facility manager with the tools to track, plan, manage, and report on facilities, and real property information.

IWMS combine and analyze complex data to improve FM practices throughout a variety of industries including government, healthcare, educational, commercial, and industrial environments. The IWMS gives decision makers the ability to automate many of the data-intensive facility management functions and typically results in continuous cost savings and improved utilization of assets through-out their entire lifecycle.

Although there is no ideal model suitable for all situations, to meet the specific demands of the facility manager, a well developed IWMS will often include a variety of functions and features. IWMS typically provide and maintain information on floor plans, property descriptions, space utilization, energy consumption, equipment locations, and other critical infrastructure data that pertains to the sector it is serving.

Integrated IWMS are equipped with intelligent interfaces, advanced automated FM functionalities, and links between various external analysis packages. The following features are common to most IWMS:

  • Interactive Database: Since the data is crucial in FM practice, IWMS are based on fully developed relational databases that are designed around the physical and functional requirements of the Facility or Space Manager.

  • Interactive Graphics: IWMS facilitate an interactive graphics module for basic drafting and modification of facility layouts, plans and other visual documents. A majority of IWMS on the market integrate industry standard CAD engines into the IWMS to utilize common CAD file formats. Implementation of building information modeling (BIM) into the IWMS environment is beginning to provide far more robust information from the point of commissioning onward. Using open standards based BIM and common data environments (CDE) such as Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie), Uniformat, Masterformat, and Omniclass, allows for interoperability of various mobile tools so that the user can have the information available when needed often saving multiple trips and significant research time. Additionally, the graphics data may be maintained in a format compatible with Geographic Information System (GIS) standards that will allow IWMS information to be accurately shared across multiple platforms, including spatial environments.

  • Data Management Tools: IWMS reuse existing data and can recognize and/or convert external data into useful information. These tools usually provide a robust user interface to enable a user-friendly environment for collaborative data creation, editing, and analysis.

Challenges and Obstacles

Facility managers typically face a variety of constraints and challenges. Those most often encountered today include the following:

  • Shrinking facilities budgets
  • Resource constraints
  • Political priorities
  • Unfunded mandates
  • Distributed data and data disparities
  • Organizational stovepipes
  • Evolving workplace designs
  • Expanding workplace responsibilities
  • Need for more strategic planning

The challenge for facility managers is to overcome these obstacles by utilizing the resources available and convincing leadership that efficiencies and cost savings can be achieved with investments in technology, such as a well-planned IWMS. Mature IWMS are important to enable facility managers to become effective decision makers and provide effective management of facility information.


IWMS benefits include the following:

Strategic Planning: Tasks include analyses of property and space to provide capital planning of new or remodel assets to improve the mission of the organization. IWMS will aid in determining space requirements, equipment locations, construction costs, environmental constraints, encroachments, and other critical planning functions.

Space Planning and Management: IWMS can define and standardize space attributes and data elements as well as the physical asset inventories of the organization including analysis of space dimensions and utilization, hazardous material locations, evacuation routes, fire equipment locations, and buildings attributes such as:

  • Age
  • Cost data
  • Life expectancy
  • Construction data
  • Contract and Warranty data
  • Building managers
  • Telephone numbers
  • Technology drops

Operations: Tasks include tracking energy consumption, utilities monitoring, lighting management, janitorial, and grounds maintenance responsibilities and costs.

Maintenance and Repairs: Tasks include monitoring routine repairs and preventive maintenance operations. Safety conditions, such as a lock-out/tag-out program can also be managed.

Assessments: This function typically includes building condition inspections, condition reporting, security vulnerability, and risk assessments. Often these have an interface for a GIS to achieve the benefits of a spatial reporting environment as well as IWMS.

Space Forecasting: Includes the ability to determine current space utilization and to project future space requirements based on customer or mission requirements. This task typically includes the ability to manage the requirements for people, space, utilities, technology access, as well as the cost and move planning features.

Benefits of IWMS usage in FM and real estate tasks can be organized into quality of life, cost reduction, cost avoidance, and information improvement. Typical benefits include the following:

  • More efficient space utilization to achieve cost savings and potential reduction in asset inventories.
  • Reduced moving and relocation activities resulting in greatly reduced relocation costs.
  • Continuous improvement in FM efficiencies.
  • Improved project planning leading to reductions in architectural and engineering, construction, and building maintenance costs.
  • Fast and accurate reporting on critical facilities information.
  • Existing processes will become more efficient and streamlined, using standardized data that is shared across the enterprise.
  • IWMS will give facilities managers the tools necessary to become more proactive instead of reactive to facilities' requirements and enable better decision making.
  • Improve safety and environmental planning capabilities, reducing risk from accident and regulatory compliance violations.
  • Disaster planning capabilities are significantly improved to reduce the potential for human injury or death in a disaster as well as to improve those planning capabilities required for operational recovery.
  • Data standardization across the organization and the elimination of redundant information held by multiple organizations in various degrees of quality and accuracy.

Relevant Codes and Standards

Relevant standards for IWMS are based on CAD, BIM, and Database file formats.

  • ASTM Uniformat II and CSI Uniformat
  • CAD-GIS-BIM Open Standard-OWS-4
  • Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie)
  • Facilities Information Classification Manual (FICM)
  • International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) - ISO 55001 and 41001
  • International Property Measurement Standard (IPMS)
  • Omniclass
  • Open Spatial Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE)
  • Spatial Data Standards for Facilities, Infrastructure, and Environment (SDSFIE)
  • U.S. Department of Defense Real Property Categorization System (RPCS) CatCodes
  • U.S. National CAD Standard®
  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Fourth Edition and XML 1.1

Additional Resources


Building Types / Space Types

Applicable to all building types and space types.


  • Core Competencies for Federal Facilities Asset Management Through 2020: Transformational Strategies by National Research Council (NRC). Washington, DC:, National Academies Press, 2008
  • Facility Management, 2nd Edition by Edmond P. Rondeau, Robert Kevin Brown, Paul D. Lapides. ISBN: 0-471-70059-3, Wiley, January 2006
  • Facility Management Technology by Teicholz, Eric, and Takehiko, Ikeda. ISBN: 0-471-10234-2, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995
  • Magic Quadrant for Integrated Workplace Management Systems by Gartner, Inc. 2014



  • IWMS Software Providers (e.g., Planon, Archibus, FM:Systems, Qube, Tririga, Manhattan Software, AssetWorks, Accruent, Indus Systems, Business Integration Group, etc.)


1 Gartner, Inc. 2014. Magic Quadrant for Integrated Workplace Management Systems.