Evaluating office space planning tools can be a tricky business. Whether you’re looking at implementing a full-blown IWMS or a more modern cloud-based tool that’s focused on workplace management, there are many options to consider with a wide range of features. And a wide range of price tags. That makes it complicated when you’re trying to build your business case for the purchase.

Or you may be in an even trickier situation: trying to replace an office space planning tool or augment an IWMS that’s not meeting your needs or delivering the promised return. In that case, it can be even harder to get approval and you need to build every benefit you can into your business case. The good news is, today’s best-in-class office space planning tools provide cost-saving benefits that you may not have considered in your ROI calculations. It’s a matter of knowing which features provide the most ROI, and understanding how these features reduce costs so you can build those numbers into your business case.

Office space planning software features that maximize ROI

Quick implementation
Modern office space planning systems built on a SaaS model can be drastically faster to implement than a big, cumbersome IWMS. We’re talking a few months instead of years. If getting the most for your money and getting it fast is important to you, the cloud is the way to go.

Related article: 6 Ways Your IWMS Software Is Failing You

When it comes to speeding implementation, also look for a company that will do the integration with your internal systems. That minimizes the burden on your IT group, which can also reduce complexity and get you going much quicker.

Automated collection of occupancy data
Speaking of integrating with your systems, you want an office space planning tool that pulls employee and company structure data directly from your HR and Finance systems, then provides automation for collecting occupancy data. You’ll get the most cost-saving benefits from a system portal that allows business units to access, update and validate their own occupancy data.

Easy scenario planning
Technology for office space planning needs to be simple, intuitive and engaging. Otherwise, people just don’t use it and you won’t get the value you’re expecting from the tool. Look for a visual user interface that makes it quick and easy to complete tasks and get information. That’s especially important when your business space champions will be using it as well as the property team. Here’s one example: what if you could see a visual representation of a building and its floors, showing the business units and teams occupying each floor? And then create move scenario plans in minutes by dragging and dropping? That interface just saved you days of work.

Integration with multiple sources of utilization data
When your goal is to maximize space usage, you need to use every source of utilization information you have, such as data from badge swipes, sensors, wired and WiFi networks and more. Look for an office space planning tool that pulls in data intelligently from various utilization tracking technologies, allowing you to see how your space is used down to the day, hour or even minute.

Related article: What’s New In Smart Building Technology: Occupancy Sensors

Dashboards, analytics and business intelligence
Everyone has reports, but you need more than a bunch of canned spreadsheet reports to get the best return on your investment in an office space planning system. Visual dashboards and analytics let you drill down to see data at the level of detail you need. For example, get information sliced and diced by geography or by business unit, and even down to the team level. Even better: look for a custom report builder that lets you create the exact reports you want using your own terminology.

If you’re not getting these features with the tools you’re currently looking at, it may be worth rethinking your evaluation criteria. Here’s a resource that can help: 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.

How these office space planning features impact your ROI

Occupancy savings
When 50 percent of your workpoints sit vacant on any given day, and each workpoint costs you $10,000 per year, it’s easy to see how optimizing your space can add up to massive savings. Focus on the features that help you get the data to reduce wasted space.

ROI Calculation 1

Time is money
How much money are you wasting when you have to wait a couple of years to reap the benefits of your office space planning tool? And remember that those benefits build year-upon year, so the longer you wait, the more money you waste.

Reduce audit costs
How much does it cost you to do manual audits for collecting occupancy data? Not only is it extremely time consuming (and therefore expensive) but the data you get is not accurate. Teams have been known to “game” the system by leaving coffee cups and other signs of life on vacant desks. Also, people move around more frequently than you can possibly keep up with. That means the information is out of date almost as soon as you’re done. In the end, nobody trusts the data and you just end up arguing over it.

The cost of collecting data is drastically reduced with the right office space planning tool, especially when you get a portal that lets you “crowd-source” your occupancy data from the people who know the space best (the business themselves) and you can pull in data automatically from utilization technology.

Reduce cost of relocations
The cost of manually collecting data for relocations is even higher, since there are so many more details to capture (and the stakes are even higher for getting it wrong). When your office space planning tool automates collection of this data, it not only reduces cost, but also speeds the process and provides for a smoother move experience for your employees.

Minimize asset leasing losses
There’s a fringe benefit to keeping all the equipment data that you collect to prepare for a relocation, including PCs, laptops, tablets, phones and more. Once that information is collected and stored in your office space planning database, you then know where all your key assets are located and who has what, helping you keep your asset leasing and write-off costs under control.

Productivity is a benefit that keeps on giving
When your property team no longer needs to spend so much time collecting and manipulating data, they can use some of that reclaimed time to plan new scenarios that improve space utilization. What could you accomplish if your planning time dropped by 90% to 95%? If you could create a half dozen alternative plans in a few hours? Imagine how much could you save by preventing unplanned leases, and even subleasing space you no longer need.

Reduce dependency on business continuity cold sites
Instead of maintaining expensive, vacant cold sites for disaster recovery purposes, the right office space planning tool can identify where there is existing vacancy within your portfolio that would meet your DR needs.

The most efficient building is the one you no longer need
The most effective way to reduce energy costs and environmental impact is by reducing your real estate footprint.

Energy Savings 1

Looking above and beyond ROI

All that being said, don’t forget to consider the benefits of a modern office space planning tool that are harder to quantify (for your own sake and for your employees’ if not for the business case).

Co-location productivity benefits
With an office space planning tool that makes it easy to do scenario planning, you can quickly visualize where your lines of business are located, and collocate them together to take advantage of business synergies.

Making your job easier and making you look good!
Have you imagined how your career prospects (and even your life!) could change with the right office space planning tool? You can impress your superiors by providing them with professional quality reports, and by pro-actively modeling scenarios that save the company millions. Best of all? You get out from under a pile of spreadsheets and accomplish more in far less time.

Want some help working out your ROI numbers? Call Serraview and we can walk you through our ROI calculator that can help pull it all together.

Download 5 Critical Comparison Points for Workplace Management Software.