Background

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in San Francisco, Yelp allows consumers to locate and review businesses on its mobile app and website. Yelp’s users have contributed approximately 148 million cumulative reviews of almost every type of local business, from restaurants, boutiques and salons to dentists, mechanics, plumbers and more. These reviews are written by people using Yelp to share their everyday local business experiences, giving voice to consumers and bringing “word of mouth” online. Businesses, both small and large, use the Yelp platform to engage with consumers at the critical moment when they are deciding where to spend their money. Yelp’s business revolves around three key constituencies: the contributors who write reviews, the consumers who read them and the local businesses that they describe.

Today, Yelp has eight offices around the US and Europe, with over 5,000 employees.

Challenges

The dizzying pace of web-based companies—who are constantly changing, growing, merging, acquiring, redirecting and adapting to the demands of the market—requires a new way of thinking about planning and managing people, space and moves. At Yelp, that dizzying pace was putting a real strain on sales managers and facilities management teams alike.

As a fast growing, sales driven, web-based operation, Yelp moves between 200-400 people per month at any one of their 4 primary sales offices. Moves are not occasional, but continual. New sales people arrive monthly, are trained, and after two months they “graduate” and are relocated to another team within the organization. At the same time, managers may be relocated to new roles, transferred to another facility, or swap teams to shore up a department. This constant movement generates staggering churn—conceivably, the facilities team might need to manage up to 1,500 moves a month across multiple offices. Beyond sales, Yelp’s innovative growth strategies—like new acquisitions and/or mergers—also generate changes that can’t always be planned for in advance. Yelp’s challenge was clear: to find a system that could keep pace with the staggering speed of a successful, web-based organization.

The Solution

When Yelp started the process of searching for a new Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), they had a strong vision for what it needed to do. The new system must:

  • Automate the move process
  • Integrate with existing systems in the organization, including Oracle and, later, Workday
  • Speed up the process of a move
  • Allow move requests to be made quickly by managers
  • Eliminate user error (such as entering the wrong desk number into the system)
  • Allow for post-move updates and reporting
  • Be implemented with minimum organizational disruption

They chose FM:Interact because it met, and exceeded, these baseline requirements, and beginning with the Move & Space Management modules—they finally had the capacity to keep pace with change. FM:Interact helps them with complex relocations and space planning by enabling them to better analyze the efficiency of their existing conditions and make decisions based upon real-time feedback and analytics. The Yelp facilities team can quickly and easily view floor plans, teams, move requests and more which helps them to stay on top of their dynamic workplace and make all the right moves.

The Results

Today, Yelp is using FM:Interact to plan and manage moves that used to be exceedingly laborious to orchestrate. Benefits of the system include:

Speed
Just five years ago, the facilities team at Yelp was able to manage moves with a complicated but carefully coordinated system of color coded “before and after” maps; basically, using AutoCAD, spreadsheets, highlighters, pens, printers and labels. It was a highly detailed, hand crafted system that worked for a limited number of moves per month. While it was effective for managing those limited moves, it wasn’t exactly agile—a single change might take days to implement—and a single move request may not get addressed until the following month if it came in after the map plan was complete.

In addition, the sheer amount of manual detail work it took to create these maps required hours of overtime with every single move. Now, hundreds of moves can be concurrently managed in less time than it might have taken to manage a single move project at a single site.

Ease of Use
As Yelp continues to roll out FM:Interact across the United States and abroad, employees continue to appreciate how easy it is to use. This is particularly important with a young culture—an organization with many young managers who, while savvy with Web services and apps, may have limited experience with any kind of operational software systems. The colorful, easy on the eye graphic interface lets users quickly access the level of data they need without handholding, manual-surfing or lengthy training. Sales managers can request a move quickly and easily with a single click, IT staff are continually up to date with where people are within the organization and facilities teams can easily visualize space.

Faster Service
Yelp has also seen faster response times to requests for maintenance, furniture, IT or any facility request because the facility team has constant, real-time access to vacancies, occupancies and employee location. Being able to accurately identify where people are—and anticipate when changes are occurring—has helped Yelp stay more efficient and productive. The system has also streamlined the process of move requests—eliminating user error and speeding the time from the request to response.

Integration
The information Yelp pulls from FM:Interact has implications beyond looking day to day at data, as it can be integrated with operational systems used by senior management throughout the organization. Data from FM:Interact works seamlessly with Workday, allowing senior executives to think more strategically and creatively about how space is used.

Photography courtesy of Jasper Sanidad

Interested in learning how FM:Interact can help your organization save time, money & resources? Contact us today!