5 Ways to evaluate space management software
Making a smart software decision
Space management software can be a great thing—as long as you choose the right one for your company.
But given the number of solutions available on the market and the confusing jargon that comes with the field of facilities management, how do you pick the one that’s right for your company?
The following five questions will help you narrow down your choices.
1. Is it the right type?
Space management software comes in a variety of types. Some are more point-based and some are more focused on a particular part of space management.
An EAM (enterprise asset management) system, for example, keeps track of office assets, and a CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) keeps track of equipment’s maintenance history.
This is in contrast to an integrated workplace management system, or IWMS, which serves a variety of purposes, including reporting space usage, tracking employee churn, and managing moves.
Given all the jargon of facilities management software, it’s useful to know how to describe exactly what you’re looking for by knowing these things ahead of time.
When it comes to selecting software, a long list of features or modules might sound good at first, but many of these features can go unused. The nature of your company's priorities will determine which features are most relevant to your office.
Remember, facility management tools will differ in what they offer, such as employee scheduling, building automation, inventory tracking and more. So if your business relies heavily on collaborating with contractors and remote teams, project management will be a key feature for you.
Identify the core functions you need your software to perform, and avoid unnecessary add-ons or upgrades.
2. Does it solve your pain points?
Once you’ve narrowed down the kind of space management software you need, take an even closer look at the final contenders, and see what they offer to do for you.
Some of the biggest problems that facilities managers face include the time lost over scouting their buildings, the logistical issues of implementing a move, and the challenge of keeping worker information accurate when so many moves take place within a few weeks.
It’s important to consider what problems the software is going to solve for you.
3. Can it solve others' pain points?
Does the program offer any additional features that mean the software will not only resolve these issues for facilities but also prove useful to end users, too?
OfficeSpace Software, for example, offers a Visual Directory®, which lets users find their co-workers with a quick search. The software also helps users quickly find conference rooms, office equipment, and vacant desks, so that their workday won’t be interrupted by having to physically search for these things themselves.
Make sure you select software that can also solve problems for your company as a whole.
4. Is it easy to use?
The software should ideally be easy to use for anyone, because some companies may not even have formal facilities managers. Smaller companies may have admins doing a facilities manager’s job.
Considering the many different roles the admin may already have to fill, choosing software that is easy to use is crucial.
When choosing software, keep in mind that different software solutions will have different setup and implementation requirements. Many options today can be deployed from the cloud while others require on-site installation at your office.
Some may also need extra hardware like IoT devices if features like energy and temperature tracking are included.
In addition, reliable support can help set up and customize your software to save you time while helping you address critical issues or errors down the line, so it’s smart to select a provider that can support you every step of the way.
They can also help you onboard new recruits more efficiently and ensure that you're getting the most out of your tools. Look for 24/7 on-call support, multiple communication channels, clear documentation and on-site aid, which will make installing and using your new software a more convenient process.
Despite this, your team's workflow is also an important point—adding or changing facility management software may affect how your employees operate, especially if your new software requires them to let go of previous tools. They may need time and training to become accustomed to a new platform, particularly if it involves complex features.
The program shouldn’t require extensive amounts of training or support from IT, either. Any program that does may cause more problems than it solves if it requires hours of orientation and troubleshooting.
5. How does it scale?
Your software should be able to match the growth of your team or business infrastructure. Growth can come in many forms such as more employees or increased data storage needs.
Let’s say that the company you work with is so large, it does indeed have a facilities manager, and it has branches in various cities. In this case, having software that can track each location can be an important advantage.
Or if one of your employees moves from an office in Chicago to Boston, for example, the process of tracking that move will be much easier if you can record the move in a few simple clicks, with a program that tracks each office location.
Compare that to a program that might not have the same capability. Updating the employee’s information and notifying the right parties could be a process that’s long and complicated, split between multiple emails and data sheets.
Consider how your tool of choice can handle these changes, and keep in mind that adding storage or user accounts to some solutions may require paid upgrades or additional devices like sensors or tablets.
Select software that fits your company's needs
In sum, when you’re choosing space management software, the right program should accomplish a few key things. Of course, at the most fundamental level, it should be the right type of software for your office.
Moreover, it should solve problems for all the people using it, from FMs to office workers. If your company is large with multiple locations, the software should also let you track the New York office while you’re working in London.
If your company is smaller—and even if it isn’t—the program should be easy to use, so no one loses hours trying to figure out how to report a from-to move.
Lastly, a best practice is to reach out to those in a similar industry who are using the software you’re researching to ask their experience with the platform. It’s one thing to speak with a sales representative for the software, and it’s another to get the opinion of someone in a role similar to yours for comparison.
FMs looking to bring in new tech should first decide what they wish to get out of the software, and then consider how the operation and setup will work in the context of their company.
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