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Five Questions to Ask Before Buying Meeting Room Software

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

One of the best ways to bring law and order to your shared office spaces is through room booking software. But there are some important questions to ask before buying meeting room software. Why? There’s more to it than reserving a room. You’re actually investing in a complete space management ecosystem—a series of checks and balances to ensure maximum utilization of common spaces. It’s worth knowing how different options stack up against your facilities.

Below are five simple, straightforward questions about meeting room booking software meant to provoke greater discussions about how to get the most out of it. These questions are also the simplest way to understand what features and capabilities you need most, as well as how a booking system will streamline your facilities.

1. How will you use the software?

On the surface, conference room software is simple: reserve a specific room at a specific time. In fact, that’s exactly how it should feel to the employees who will use it. For facility managers, there’s more to consider—like how room booking software will change workplace governance. In an ideal situation, it means less work for facility managers and less chaos in shared workspaces. But this is only possible through the right software.

Consider facets of room booking like the reservation and confirmation system, as well as calendar management and meeting information capabilities. Do you need a simple system that keeps a schedule, or a more robust system that manages employees’ experience with the space? Understand your needs before choosing software to ensure your investment meets expectations.

2. What integrations are available?

Meeting room booking software needs integrations to function realistically in the workplace. Employees need the ability to book via email, chat app, through a portal, and through myriad other channels—otherwise, they’re less likely to use it. Look for software that supports multiple booking options and that’s intuitive enough to manage them all through a central queue.

Facility managers should evaluate more than just available integrations, too. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) make it possible to create tailored integrations, so it’s worth looking at products with available APIs as well. More integrations and customizable opportunities paves the way for everything from scalability to turnkey solutions specific to the booking needs of your facilities.

3. What’s the scope of the ecosystem?

Consider whether you need or want your meeting room booking system to extend beyond a straightforward reservation system. Do you want it to appear on touchscreens outside bookable rooms? Extend to visitors as part of a wayfinding system? Establish your vision for a booking ecosystem before investing in software.

Keep in mind that the larger the ecosystem, the more associated costs and the more intense the framework for a buildout. For example, the addition of touchscreens outside of conference rooms drives up costs; however, it might also drive up bookings, improving space utilization and space efficiency. Understand the relationship between your reservation ecosystem and core facility management metrics.

4. What spaces will it encompass?

Think about the shared spaces in your facilities. Which areas need booking governance? For some companies, that only extends to conference rooms. For others, it may include hotel desks. Realistically, any unassigned space qualifies for reservations, but not every space benefits from this system.

Look at the number of spaces that need reservation capabilities, then pair that with cost. Does it make sense to invest in room booking software for four rooms? Forty rooms? Only for your conference spaces? To manage the hundreds of hotel desks at your facilities? Qualify the scope of deployment, right down to the number and type of spaces it includes.

5. How will you define ROI?

Room booking software can pay for itself when deployed effectively. But how will you know when it has? Take time to establish return on investment (ROI) metrics that validate your purchase. Is it time saved by not over-booking rooms? Does ROI correlate to space efficiency?

Delineate what ROI looks like and have a clear roadmap for how to track and measure it against the cost of investing in meeting room software. Keep in mind that this should be an ongoing priority that continues to justify the cost of your software far into the future.

Ask more questions to learn more

In theory, meeting room booking software is simple. In practice, there are numerous options, features, and deployment nuances that make careful consideration essential. The software you choose will define your employees’ experience interacting with shared spaces. It’ll also determine governance for those spaces. Answer the above five questions to gain the insight required to make the right choice about which platform to choose and how to deploy it.

Don’t limit your questioning to these five, either! Look at room booking from both micro and macro stances, to create a system that’s fluid and convenient. Ask as many questions as it takes to develop a clear system for room booking and to find software that supports it.

Keep reading: 5 benefits of a meeting room booking system tablet

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Five Questions to Ask Before Buying Space Planning Software

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Sick of polylining new floor plans or adding notes to spreadsheets every time you adjust the office seating chart? It’s likely time to invest in space planning software. Before you do, ask questions—not all platforms are the same. Take the time to come up with a few questions to ask before buying space planning software.

What should you ask? Some of the best questions are the most basic ones. Consider the biggest, most important questions you have and start there. Below are five simple questions that deserve answers before you proceed with a space management software investment.

1. How will you use the software?

The value of space planning software goes beyond any one single use. Instead, think about how you’ll use it collectively to better plan and execute the ideal workplace floor plan. Some topics to consider include:

  • Floor plan creation and optimization
  • Gathering real-time space utilization data
  • Custom dashboards and reporting for spaces
  • Planning and overseeing office moves
  • Macro real estate forecasting and planning

Probe these areas in some depth before you make any firm decisions about what you do or don’t need from your space planning software. Also, think to the future about features you may not currently need, but may come to need as your facilities evolve or scale on the back of better space management. How you plan to use the software is the biggest justification for your investment in it.

2. What capabilities do you need?

As you explore uses for space management software in your facilities, consider the capabilities that are most important to you. Beyond the basics like drag-and-drop floor plan tools, what do you need to allocate, organize, and optimize your space? Different programs (and even different tiers of programs) afford facility managers different tools that may dictate their experience with the platform.

Some of the most common (and beneficial) capabilities hinge on integrations. Linking up the company directory, for example, brings dynamic appeal to changing floor plans. Collaborative floor planning features can help simplify moves. Look at available features and pair them with your expectations to find software that meets your needs.

3. What processes will it displace?

Out with the old, in with a new space planning system. Ask yourself what current processes new software will make obsolete, as well as which processes it’ll automate, simplify, or otherwise improve. The goal is to take work off of a space manager’s plate, while improving the flexibility, agility, and cohesiveness of the workplace.

Draw direct links between features and benefits. Drag-and-drop floor plans eliminate polylining and spreadsheets. Space metrics and reporting absolve you of manual data tracking. Move management tools bring order to otherwise chaotic relocation phases. Take a close look at how, specifically, space management software will shore up your processes.

4. What opportunities does it unlock?

Chances are, you’ve made the decision to invest in space planning software because you want more from your facilities. Explore this idea deeper. What will space planning software allow you to do for your workplace that might not be practical or available at present? Some examples may include:

  • Explore hypothetical workspace layouts or desking concepts
  • Track space utilization metrics with accuracy
  • Develop a foundation for wayfinding and company directory
  • Improve workplace efficiency through optimization insights
  • Pave the way for a hoteling or reservation system

It comes down to a simple concept: what doesn’t your current workplace offer that it should? Identify opportunities for workplace improvement and look for space planning software that will help realize those objectives.

5. How will you define ROI?

Establish what return on investment (ROI) looks like in the context of your investment in space planning software. Do you have metrics to indicate improvement? Is there a dollar figure attached to your company’s top- or bottom-line growth? If so, how do you calculate it?

Space planning software affects so many facets of business operations because they’re tied to the workplace and employees’ interactions with it. Identify the concept of ROI in whatever form it takes before you invest in software to get a clear idea of what you’re getting for the cost of a license.

Build on these questions

Your answers to these questions will hinge on many factors—namely the size of your facilities, how you manage them, and how dynamic they are. A 12-person company with 2,000 square feet of office space won’t have the same demands as a 250-person company that operates eight floors. Stakeholders need to evaluate their situation in the context of a space planning software solution to see the value it offers them.

Start with these five questions and use them as a springboard for more. Can you explore new desking concepts? What metrics aren’t you tracking that you should be? Is it time to upgrade your office space? Good questions lead to a good investment in space planning software, which opens up a world of possibilities for workplace optimization and growth.

Keep reading: Space planning software buyers guide