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By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
Thinking about investing in a facility management system? The decision to purchase and deploy FM software isn’t an easy one. It takes no small amount of research to find a platform that meets your needs. It’s smart to prepare a few questions to ask before buying facility management software, to make sure you approach the task with perspective. The goal isn’t to just come away with an app—it’s to deploy FM software that improves your operations today, tomorrow, and far into the future.
The list of questions you might ask to qualify software is infinite. While it’s good to ask questions, too many and you might paralyze the decision-making process. We’ve narrowed it down to five core queries to get you started. Here are the most important questions to ask before buying facility management software.
1. How will you use the software?
This question is both as simple as it seems and complex enough to warrant a lot of discussion among management. Identify aspects of facility management that need better oversight—or at least more cohesive management. Areas to explore include:
- Real estate utilization and management
- Workplace planning and operations
- Janitorial and landscaping
- Capital repairs, improvements, and asset tracking
- Utilities management and planning
- Vendor management and integrated FM
Look at how you currently manage and facilitate these pillars of facility management, and ask how software might help improve them.
2. How will FM software help scale your business?
Look ahead, into the future. As your business grows, how will facilities management software support that growth and what will it enable you to do that you might not otherwise be able to accomplish? It’s essential to see FM software as an investment, and a long-term one at that. As you look at how to use software (Question 1), expound upon these possibilities to chart growth for your company.
Will a shift to integrated facilities management improve your bottom line? Will a new desking arrangement cut your lease costs while you grow your workforce? Can you plan for capital expenses next year? Juxtapose facility management software with your current five-year plan and look for opportunities to realize your goals.
3. Does the vendor offer training?
Make the investment in a facility management system that offers learning opportunities! The last thing you want to do is spend a sum of money on software without any cohesive guidance on how to use it. Look for vendors that offer guided demonstrations and ongoing learning opportunities that immerse you in their platform.
Training and education opportunities not only show you how to make the most of facilities management software, they also show a commitment to you, the customer. Find a platform that’s vested in your success and that helps you achieve it by continually innovating and sharing those innovations. Vendor training is an integral part in realizing the full value of FM software.
4. What’s your budget or cost structure?
Before you pull the trigger on an FM platform, budget for it. Don’t allocate an arbitrary segment of the budget, either—do research into FM software options and their price points, and base your budget around these costs. This also involves looking at cost structure.
Can you license the platform month-over-month? Annually? Per user? Outright? Are there different product tiers with different costs? What are the pricing terms? Gauge how much an investment in facility management software will cost over the first six months, year, two years and five years, and where that cost fits into your budget. This is the foundation for the final question you need to ask.
5. How will you define ROI?
To know if your investment in facility management software is worth it, set the standard for your return on investment (ROI). Will you measure it in the form of top- or bottom-line growth? Via values like space utilization efficiency? Through asset management metrics? Take the cost of software and stack it up against your ROI metric to make sure it’s worth your time and money.
This question should also prompt discussion about how to measure the ongoing benefit of facilities software. What metrics are you going to track and why? How can you compare those to your costs on an equal plane? Have a frank and thorough discussion about what it means to reap a return from software and how to prove that ROI over the life of its use.
Continue to ask questions
Again, these aren’t the only questions you can or should ask when investing in FM software—they’re just the most important. Use them as jumping-off points for even more questions. What aspects of your business can integrate with a facility management platform? Who will oversee and manage the system? What features does it offer that you can’t currently use, but might in the future?
There are plenty of facility management platforms out there. Put your budget behind one that provides clear answers to the above five questions and offers room for opportunities, optimization, and innovation beyond them.
Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?