Software Advice is taking a Big Data approach to surveying the current state of affairs in the facility management software buyer’s market with their 2015 BuyerView report, which we will summarize here.
Software Advice is a popular software recommendation service that matches potential buyers looking to solve a variety of business issues with enterprise software vendors. For example, a Facility Manager might contact Software Advice with information about their company such as size, number of locations and software budget, plus a list of specific pain points such as “our employee move process takes too long” or “we’re expanding rapidly and need to track who is sitting where.” Software Advice then gives the FM an unbiased recommendation of appropriate companies.
Since Software Advice receives a large volume of enquiries about facilities management software, they are in an ideal position to summarize trends in the FM software market from a buyer’s perspective. They have recently released their 2015 BuyerView report, assembled from a random selection of enquiries in 2014 from nearly 400 companies in a wide range of industries. The report seeks to investigate what facility managers in different sectors look for in a new FM software package, the tools they currently use to manage their facility, and the key challenges that they are faced with (which hopefully the right software can solve).
We were interested to read Software Advice’s report because although at OfficeSpace we know plenty of FMs are still using legacy tools like pen and paper or spreadsheets (and vocally complaining about this!) the BuyerView survey starts out by giving some quantifiable metrics showing the breakdown of these current tools. These tools are obviously not up to par since the report is based on people actively looking for a better method of managing their space.
It’s important to take into account that the report’s findings are based on buyers who contacted Software Advice for recommendations, and do not necessarily indicate the market as a whole.
Topping the list of methods currently used is “nothing” – 28% of people said they have no formal system, closely followed by 23% of people using a manual pen and paper approach. The next largest grouping is quite telling – 35% of people already used some kind of software to manage their facility, whether it be spreadsheets, an existing IWMS or CAFM application, AutoCAD, a custom FM software or a database system like Microsoft Access. That over a third of people surveyed already had software in place which wasn’t doing the job properly shows the need for applications which are (a) designed specifically for facilities management (b) designed well enough that they are adopted and used easily from the outset, rather than sitting dusty and covered in cobwebs on the metaphorical IT shelf.
There is a quote in the report from an FM software consulting firm regarding those companies that already have dedicated facilities management software (perhaps too big or too complicated):
“We see lots of bad purchases by groups buying large systems because they think they need all the features, but it’s a very expensive, inappropriate purchase”
The graph detailing the top reasons to look for new facility management software reflects this. Pain points that could be related to a poorly performing existing software system (missing features, poor support, lack of integration, lack of user friendliness) makes up 28% of companies surveyed. The other pain points reflect a general need for a system dedicated to facilities, providing better data consistency and better automation, all of which should be alleviated by the right SaaS facility management system.
One pain point statistic that the BuyerView survey doesn’t list, which would have been quite insightful, is the amount of prospective software buyers who still find it necessary to spend valuable time physically walking the floor of their facility to keep tabs on available space. We can assume that it is a large proportion if nearly a quarter are using pen and paper, and nearly a third have no formal system in place.
The number of buildings a facility manager is responsible for is also an interesting statistic covered by the report, with 85% of prospective buyers managing more than one location, and almost 10% managing more than 100. Only 15% of people were responsible for a single location.
This was in line with what we expected since most of our clients use OfficeSpace to streamline the management of multiple offices, using Visual Directory’s graphical interface to switch between different floor plan views by selecting from a drop-down list.
The BuyerView report concludes that above all, flexibility is the key factor in a software system used to manage a company’s space. The right software solution must be able to cope with the quantity, types and locations of buildings the facility management team is responsible for. It must be able to keep track of different types of assets within the building, and it must be easy for facility managers to use it to produce a variety of reports from the data in the system, such as space and occupancy reports. The software should also be easy for management and technicians to use (i.e., it should be user friendly for the entire organization, hopefully without extensive training).
We would add to this conclusion that any modern facilities software package worth investing in should be easy for the IT team to set up, should be backed by a dynamic and responsive support team, and above all should demonstrate its value to the organization right away, without a lengthy and expensive “feeling out” period.
Access the full Software Advice BuyerView report here.