When one of the "Big Four" accounting firms decided to take a hard look at how
their office space was being utilized, Vernalis was chosen to create a solution that
would reinvent the rules for space allocation to drive incredible savings.

 

Time is money and in the case of our Big Four client, more and more of their employees time was being spent outside of their primary office; they were part of the world's emerging mobile workforce. This is no surprise considering that 75% of the entire North American workforce is considered mobile and is growing according to IDC. Often, their teams worked from their client's offices for convenience and ease of project execution. They were consistently attending financial symposia, conferences, and working from other corporate offices. This all combined with the trend toward employees working remotely from home, left employees' primary offices unoccupied a majority of the time. It was obvious that the entire approach to office space planning and budgeting was in need of an overhaul.

 

Much like time, space is money too. With over 80 locations across the country, and real estate accounting for the second largest cost next to payroll, inefficiently used space represented a significant waste to the organization. Our client's office space costs needed to be measured against the actual time that the space was being used by the personnel it was intended for. Effective utilization of the space at each location was the goal. The criteria used to make workspace decisions needed to expand to include factors such as transitory visits to a business unit location, employee transfers both permanent and temporary and employee additions and terminations. Permanence of personnel at any one location needed to be a lesser factor in planning and budgeting for space.

 

Our client had a simple but powerful idea to better understand the space requirements in an increasingly transitory work environment: mine existing building access data to understand how the space was truly being used. Data from physical security systems (id badges) cataloged employees entering every office in the organization. By correlating that data with hr, inventory and space allocation information, they could understand utilization in real time and produce analytics to make informed decisions.

Vernalis had a long standing relationship with delivering complex systems integrations and analytics for them and were very familiar with their technology, structure and standards. For these reasons, they selected Vernalis to design and develop a system that would allow the business end user to generate space utilization reports on demand by simply selecting a location.

 


By working with our client's real estate and hoteling management teams, we collected requirements and designed 4 conceptual reports that would allow them to make reality based recommendations regarding work space utilization. By starting with the ideal reporting output, it gave us a clear view of what data points would be needed.



An ad hoc generated spreadsheet that listed the assigned employees and average utilization by both rank and business unit for a specified time period. This would be used to determine if there is a surplus or deficiency in average available office space.

Listed specific employees that did not utilize their assigned office space above a specified threshold.

Correlated remote office reservations data through their hotelling system with actual usage to bill back the appropriate business units

Listed the utilization of specific floors by employee rank in order to determine if appropriate office types were available to accommodate the standard workspace requirements of employees based on rank


By reverse-engineering our client's physical access control systems, and using our knowledge of their locations, card reader configuration and building access infrastructure, we created a software bridge that could extract the entire organization's access data into a single database repository. To protect the performance of the physical access control system, we developed a synchronization process capable of replicating thousands of records in fractions of a second using a sophisticated fault tolerance layer to ensure that no transactions were lost.

We also built a bridge to the HR system to match employee identities with their rank and business unit assignments and hoteling system to determine remote office reservations.


Our application, built in .NET/MS SQL, allowed businesses users to quickly and easily access any of the standardized reports in seconds by simply specifying an office location and time period. Monthly reports were generated on an automatic schedule so the users would not need to wait for reports to generate on the fly. The interface was designed to be consistent with the standards of our client so users would be immediately comfortable with navigating the software.

 


By tracking badge-in attendance per month, our client was able to accurately identify the average volume of employees using each location and compare that with available inventory. Based on this data, real estate decisions were made that led to fewer floors and offices being leased. Additionally, the application allowed business units to differentiate between their own employees and those visiting from other units in order to charge back their workspace costs to the business units of the visitors. The bottom line: in just the first office closing as a result of these reports, they realized lease savings of $25 million in a 5 year period, representing a 2,500% ROI for the project.


The return on investment didn't stop with real estate cost savings: our client was able to integrate the centralized badge-in data into other systems including emergency preparedness, crisis response, hoteling, employee provisioning, and base building integration to name just a few. What was once important only to the Security Department became an indispensable tool for departments across the organization.