Space Planning Software Buyers and Info Guide
By Shahar Alster
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder
Space planning software is a modern staple in many work environments, chiefly because it provides facility managers with a visual understanding of the space available to them. It’s a top-down view of the square footage available and, perhaps more importantly, its potential for utilization. Space planning software incorporates elements of traditional floorplans, dynamic mapping software and facilities management benchmarks into a single resource that makes understanding your workspace easier.
More than just a way to set up your workspace, space planning software is also a critical contributor in managing it. Few modern workplaces are static—space planning software recognizes the dynamic nature of your facilities and allows you to keep up with changes before, during and after they occur.
To truly understand the power of space planning software, however, it’s important to know how it impacts the modern workplace and just how far we’ve come technologically in workspace design.
The Stone Age of Polylining
Not all that long ago, workspace planning was done via pen and paper. Much like an architect might draft designs on grid paper, facilities managers used pencils and rulers to draw scale diagrams of their workspaces. This practice was called polylining.
Despite once being standard practice in facilities management and space planning, polylining isn’t used much anymore. Not only is it extremely time-consuming and very prone to error, it’s simply antiquated in the face of CAFM software and more robust space planning tools. Today’s computer applications can accomplish the same task quicker and with greater precision.
The other major downside to polylining was the sheer amount of paperwork. If your business was large enough to span multiple departments, floors or even locations, you could expect to tote around dozens and dozens of floorplans at any given time. It simply wasn’t practical.
The one good thing to come out of polylining was the concept of dynamic space planning software. It’s not surprising that facilities managers everywhere were fed up with constantly drawing and changing their drafts! Space planning software was borne thanks to a combination of demand and technological capability. And it’s still evolving today!
Establishing a Top-Down View
Modern space planning software is establishing itself as a vital component of facilities management and it’s important to understand why, starting at the top. Specifically, it’s about creating a top-down view of your workspace.
Facilities managers need absolute oversight of their workplace. This includes where people are sitting, what spaces are unoccupied, the accommodations of the workplace, where utilities are located, the floorplan of the building and much, much more. CAFM software with space planning tools makes this level of oversight possible. Where polylining only delivered layout, CAFM platforms enable facilities managers to access just about anything they might want to know about the space they oversee.
At any given time, administrators can open a live overhead view of their workspace and see exactly where everyone is and, more importantly, information about their space—both available and occupied. This is useful for instant accountability, such as:
- Finding a hot desk for a contractor or consultant
- Locating a specific employee or workstation
- Seeing the current capacity of a certain space or department
- Visualizing floorplans side by side across locations
- Determining whether or not a meeting room is free for use
And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to modern day space planning software! The true power of CAFM tools can be put to use when it comes to dynamic interaction with your space.
Accommodating Dynamic Working Environments
A top-down, static view of facilities is great for reference at a glance. However, when it comes to planning movement or adapting a floorplan, space planning software is really primed to shine! Being able to physically interact with a responsive facilities template enables managers to calculate next steps and adjustment ramifications on-the-fly. Let’s take a look at an example:
Your business is expanding to occupy 2 new offices adjacent to your existing space on the same floor. You’re also adding 5 full-time employees and 5 part-time workers. Mocking up your new and existing facilities with a space planning tool, you’re able to drag and drop employees, arranging them dynamically between your cumulative facilities. You can also plan out hot desks for your part-time workers. CAFM software enables you to constantly arrange and rearrange until you have a layout that’s efficient and accommodating.
The above example is just one of a larger number of challenges facilities managers face in the modern workplace. Few workplaces stay the same month-over-month as they adapt to the needs of the workforce occupying them or the ebb and flow of business growth and development. Because space planning software offers scalable oversight of your facilities, it offers solutions for any situation that may require real-time administration, such as:
- Interdepartmental moves
- Workstation relocation
- Hot desk management
- Business expansion
- Department migration
- Collaborative space management
Space planning software also offers an invaluable approach to scenario testing. Save templates of your core workspace and duplicate them in order to test theories about department moves, workstation relocation, cluster and neighborhood groupings, dynamic workspaces and more. It’s possible to see the benefits and drawbacks of these possibilities visually on paper, before you set them in motion.
Getting a Grip on Facilities Efficiency
Above all, facilities managers are tasked with making sure the space they oversee is operating efficiently. For this to occur, a balance needs to be struck between the workspace and the people in it, as well as with sections of the workspaces as part of the cumulative facilities. It’s a hard line to toe! Space planning software makes it easier by providing insights that may not always be overtly present. As an example:
Looking at your floorplan, you see that 5 employees are seated in an area with capacity for 12. Likewise, several of your other office spaces have extra capacity. By dynamically mapping workstation relocations, it’s possible to reorganize your staff within other areas of the building to eliminate the need for the under-utilized space. You’ll save on rent and utilities by downsizing the space. And, your space planning strategy can be coordinated to mitigate any loss in productivity before and after the relocation.
Shuffling around employees to better utilize facilities is only the start when it comes to the optimization capabilities of space planning software. Consider managing an entire real estate portfolio across different countries, all from a dashboard that gives you insights into exactly how your available space is being used!
Efficiency through space planning is something businesses big and small can and should be paying close attention to. From eliminating unnecessary real estate costs, to maximizing square footage productivity, to optimizing utility costs within a workspace, it’s all possible through robust space planning software.
Collaboration with Those Who Have Insight
Let’s also take a moment to recognize the collaborative nature of space planning software. Facilities management isn’t always about oversight—it’s quite often about working in tandem with department heads or administrative professionals to execute improvements to the workspace. Having software that supports team-based inputs is a hallmark of good facilities management.
Being able to collaborate on floorplan proposals, relocation plans and other aspects of a changing workplace mitigates the potential for setbacks and unseen barriers. For example, consulting with department heads before a move can alert facilities managers to logistical concerns, such as the need for sales to be positioned next to implementation for daily collaboration. Or, it might yield foresight into complications with a proposed space that multiple departments may need access to. Getting feedback and input from the right people is necessary and convenient when consolidated into CAFM and space planning software.
Planning for a Better Workplace
Space planning software is at the heart of just about every major facilities management decision in today’s modern, dynamic workplace. Not only does it enable a clear view of facilities, it affords managers forward-looking opportunities, provides efficiency insights and offers much-needed collaboration with “boots on the ground” across all business departments. Simply put: it’s an invaluable tool for running a lean, efficient, mistake-free workplace.
Whether your business has 5, 50 or 500 workers, creating the ideal work environment is all about understanding the parameters and opportunities of your facilities. CAFM and space planning software unlock much-needed insights and afford managers tools to go about designing and implementing a workspace that’s optimized for efficiency, productivity and comfort. This, in turn, fosters a more engaged workforce and improves business productivity.
When you consider the fact that space planning software makes such a refined level of oversight possible in a dynamic capacity, each and every day, it’s no wonder modern businesses are putting huge stock in its capabilities! If you’re not currently utilizing a CAFM platform and space planning software, it’s time to get familiar with these technological tools and start planning for a better workplace.