One of the biggest challenges for any property owner is the day-to-day building operations and system management. For enterprise businesses, the difficulty is compounded with each additional location or building site added to the portfolio. Often, this leads to inefficient management, increased operating costs, and a lack of flexibility to keep up with the latest available technology.

When looking at the systems that have the largest impact on building management budgets and administrative workload, HVAC, lighting, maintenance, and access control are at the top of the list. Thanks to a growing market of IoT companies, businesses now have the option to use third-party vendors and integrations to get the best features and most advanced technology available. With the right technology tools in place, integrated building management software can alleviate the strain of managing disparate systems, and pave the way for smarter, future-proof buildings.

What is integrated building management?

An integrated building management system (BMS) uses connected technology to automate, streamline, and consolidate operations and procedures for a smarter building. A comprehensive BMS solution allows administrators to access and proactively manage all building systems from a single interface, rather than disparate accounts and platforms. 

While many companies offer standardized building management software, a one-size-fits-all approach can’t give you the flexibility or best-of-breed technology offerings to fully customize your system to fit the unique needs of your building. For the best building management systems that encompass access control, maintenance, HVAC and tenant management, an integrated BMS is a much better option. Connecting cloud-based platforms via open APIs gives businesses real-time data and more flexibility to customize their building management software. By viewing all systems together, an integrated BMS can also provide powerful insights that help businesses cut unnecessary costs, improve tenant experiences, and relieve administrative and IT burden.

The best access control for building management

Access control that utilizes open architecture and mobile SDKs is easy to connect to other building management software and systems. By integrating your physical access control with leading software for building management, you can leverage the best technology for whole-building deployments, all managed from a single interface. As a complete access control solution that offers an open platform, hardware including readers and control panels, cloud-based software, plus mobile and physical credentials, Openpath provides a best-in-class foundation for a comprehensive integrated BMS. 

For larger enterprises with an existing legacy access control system, doing a full rip-and-replace is often a costly upgrade to their physical security, and therefore overlooked as part of a BMS update. Because Openpath is backwards compatible with legacy hardware, you can still get all the benefits of cloud-based access control within your robust integrated building management system, without the hassle of a major project.

Take the strain off your property management teams with Openpath’s unique parent/child level controls. With site-specific controls, tenants and property managers can configure permissions for individual spaces and zones, eliminating all the red tape and paperwork associated with adding and removing users and credentials. This feature is especially important for properties that don’t have on-site property management, as Openpath’s remote self-service portal makes it easy to control employee access in real time. The flexibility of this reusable solution allows for easy onboarding and offboarding, both for new tenants and expiring leases, meaning you never have to worry about the expenses and delays associated with rekeying locks as tenants move out.

Access control red flags: what to watch out for

With so many vendors competing for attention in this industry, the challenge for any building owner evaluating systems is knowing which vendors are providing the best solutions. All building owners want a future-proofed investment of their capital dollars. But if you’re integrating with a system that can’t operate as a complete standalone access control system, you’re going to run into problems. Installing access control technologies that have to be cobbled together by an integrator is going to be more expensive and prone to issues than going with an all in one open platform like Openpath. 

Some cloud-based access control software claim more flexibility by letting you choose from a range of other hardware providers. However, this usually means you’ll be limited to legacy, on-premise readers and door controllers, which usually have outdated technology features and limited capabilities. This creates security vulnerabilities, and holds back your ability to add new capabilities and adapt or scale as you are confronted with ever-changing user demands and safety challenges. 

When you upgrade your on-premise hardware to a cloud-connected system like Openpath, you are primed to respond to any change required, at any moment, as your smart building is connected in real time. When new features or software updates become available, they are instantly downloaded to your building hardware, ensuring your IoT-connected building is future-proofed and running on the most secure technology on the market. 

Benefits of an integrated building management system

In today’s built environment, security and efficiency are both top priorities, and IoT connectivity is allowing businesses to be more nimble and effective when it comes to building management software. 

  • Reduces operating costs. A BMS that streamlines your space and amenity management across building sites gives administrators additional ways to reduce operating costs. This frees up budget constraints, allowing businesses to increase spending on security and safety features to keep buildings on top of new guidelines and health recommendations.

  • Offers valuable data insights. The more data you have at your disposal, the more powerful your insights. Using systems with real-time activity logs, AI learning models, and clear audit trails empowers you to find trends across your systems. Once you’ve identified patterns, you can make improvements in your operations.

  • Improves tenant experiences. When the building automatically does things for you, life is that much easier. For example, being able to enter the building via a touchless access control reader, without having to dig for your phone or ID badge, is one less thing to worry about. 

  • Increases property values. Your BMS not only makes your buildings safer and more energy efficient, it also can increase your property value. Technology is an increasingly in-demand amenity for prospective tenants. 

Applications for integrated BMS software

Because integrated BMS software opens up access to more data, businesses have a unique opportunity to improve their systems. Stemmons Enterprise is doing just that with an Openpath integration. They seamlessly connected their dashboard via Openpath’s open API, and all the Openpath data automatically populates without having to replicate or import a thing. By viewing access activity alongside other building system data, they are creating powerful, AI-powered models for better experiences. Data visualization is helping the Stemmons team identify patterns within the system, and make informed decisions faster and with more efficiency. 

Many building operations can be automated based on the data you receive from your access control system. Automatically adjust the temperature based on who’s at the office, or install lighting that turns off after the last person credentials out. For example, with an Openpath and Events2HVAC system integration, property owners can control the temperature in any room based on the number of people in the space. With the detailed insights into occupancy through Openpath’s access control activity logs, building managers have the added benefit of creating energy-efficient systems, which in turn reduces overhead costs. 

Utilizing AI-powered analytics, an integration with Openpath and Kognition allows enterprise businesses to improve building security and safety as part of their facility management system. Kognition’s state-of-the-art facial recognition software, combined with reliable mobile access control from Openpath, empowers property owners to automate tenant and visitor check-in processes, mitigate potential threats, and make informed decisions with deep learning data analytics.

COVID-19 building management integrations

Safety is top of mind for every business right now, and an integrated BMS is key to prioritizing health and safety in the workplace. In order to ensure workspaces are clean and sanitized during COVID-19, integrate your access control system with building operations platforms and facility management software providers like BuiltSpace Technologies, Building Engines, Angus Systems, and Inteliglas. The AI-powered analytics, optimized scheduling interfaces, plus occupancy and access data can help administrators streamline maintenance requests, automate air sanitization procedures based on tenant schedules, and provide real-time visibility into performance and job statuses. When embarking on upgrades for COVID-19 building technology, an integrated BMS can help you manage the entire project from start to finish.

Cloud-based facility management software and access control systems are completely remote, allowing administrators to make adjustments on the fly and manage the entire system from anywhere, at any time. Openpath integration partner Cohesion offers a building toolkit that includes occupancy management, touchless technology, and health solutions. Cohesion’s cloud software for building management promotes flexibility and interoperability that are essential for enterprise success during COVID-19. It allows multi-location businesses to centralize their building management, as well as easily identify and accommodate variances across the entire enterprise from anywhere. All of this equates to a more secure, responsive building system that can easily scale up or back to meet the needs of both small and enterprise businesses.

Building management solution checklist

When selecting a building management platform, take note of the available integrations and built-in services. Some companies claim to offer a complete solution, but they don’t integrate with best-of-breed solutions, nor do they provide an all-in-one platform that has everything needed for an enterprise application. Use this checklist to vet your building management and access control solution. Here’s what to look for to make sure you’re getting a quality combination: 

  • Truly open platforms. Building management solutions that are not built to work in an open manner integrating with other solutions will lock you in and restrict your ability to flex and respond to changes in your environment. Select a system that runs on an open architecture. Your system should be able to easily connect with applications via API, mobile SDKs, or webhooks.

  • Best-of-breed integrations. Make sure your building management system can integrate with industry-leading technology. For example, to offer the optimal security and safety for your building, make sure you can seamlessly connect Openpath access control.

  • Complete solutions. Vendors who offer only one or two technologies, like just HVAC and Access, but nothing else, are not actually a complete solution. The best building management systems will offer a full range of services that you can deploy across all your buildings and locations.

  • Cloud software. Avoid solutions that use on-premise only software that can’t operate in the cloud. Legacy and on-premise software require in-person maintenance, and cannot be managed remotely. This puts your building at risk of having outdated security technology, not to mention it’s inconvenient. Cloud-based systems give you greater flexibility to manage your system from anywhere, and instant online updates ensure you’re always operating on the newest software.

  • Data security and compliance. Remote management is convenient and effective, but opening up your network to integration partners that don’t prioritize cybersecurity puts your business at risk for a breach. Look for partners who offer end-to-end encryption, have the compliance standards your business requires, and have features that limit access to only authorized users. Your building management system software should protect your assets, not make them more vulnerable. 

  • Avoid”overlay” access control solutions. Some BMS vendors will imply they have their own cloud access control software built in which connects to your legacy access system. However, if you buy access control software from a cloud vendor offering this “overlay” technology that connects to older legacy systems, you are limiting your options. These overlay vendors use a cloud-based control panel, but are constrained to the limited functionality the legacy on-premise access control systems support, with no future-proofing of your access control system. For instance, if you need an upgrade, you still have to roll a truck to your building to update that on-premise system. You also have to continue maintaining the older servers and software in perpetuity, which essentially negates any cost savings of the cloud solution.

Key business management takeaways

Utilizing third-party vendors to integrate your building management system software lets you take advantage of the best proptech technologies available in the market. Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, or relying on outdated legacy hardware, integrated building systems can automate, streamline, and consolidate operations for a more efficient, smarter building system. Paired with fully remote access in the cloud and enhanced security measures, you can fully customize your Opepath access control, building maintenance, HVAC, and other facility operations systems. Openpath’s superior interoperability allows you to design scalable integrated systems to future-proof your building management, without sacrificing security.