What is the best capital planning software in 2021 and beyond?

Greg Jarboe

Greg Jarboe

If you are searching for the best capital planning software, then I have a word of advice. Don’t be surprised when you discover that a lot of what’s out there won’t solve your problem.  

Why? Well, there are two reasons. 

First, a lot of what’s out there wasn’t tailor-made for colleges and universities by a team of industry professionals averaging over 15 years of experience in higher education and facilities management. 

Second, what you probably need to solve your problem is capital planning and project management software.  

For example, AiM Capital Planning and Project Management software from AssetWorks helps colleges and universities increase fiscal controls and improve financial accountability for capital projects, reduce their risk profile through improved regulatory compliance, and streamline capital planning and management processes to reduce CAPEX and improve rates of return from capital investments. AiM tightly aligns capital planning and facilities maintenance, improving access to shared data, reducing costs, and promoting greater transparency across the organization. 

AiM Capital Planning and Project Management software is designed to work seamlessly with AiM COBie, a performance-based standard for facility asset information delivery. The COBie Import feature of AiM can automate the process of creating property and asset records using this widely accepted data standard. 

In addition, AssetWorks not only develops and sells these software solutions, they also provide professional services and support their customers directly. With a vested interest in customer success, AssetWorks partners with you to provide strategic services to meet business goals, implementation services to deploy the software and ensure adoption, custom solutions for interfacing and automation, as well as technical and support services to keep it all running smoothly. 

But, don’t take my word for it. Talk with one of the members of the higher education team at AssetWorks. They average over 15 years of industry experience, and have the high level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness that you’ll need to navigate your way through a complex and difficult process that Gartner says will involve six steps:  

  • Problem identification. “We need to do something.” 
  • Solution exploration. “What’s out there to solve our problem?” 
  • Requirements building. “What exactly do we need the purchase to do?” 
  • Supplier selection. “Does this do what we want it to do?” 
  • Validation. “We think we know the right answer, but we need to be sure.” 
  • Consensus creation. “We need to get everyone on board.”  

Now, Gartner also says that this “buying journey” that you are on isn’t linear. Instead, you will engage in what one might call a “looping” path, revisiting each of those six buying steps at least once. 

This means that you might want to contact an expert with relevant and valuable experience who you can trust sooner rather than later. 

I know, most people in your position at other colleges and universities might wait until they reached the “supplier selection” step before contacting someone who works for the typical vendor of facilities asset management software.   

But, I’ve met the higher education team at AssetWorks and I’ve interviewed five of them over the past couple of months. So, you can decide for yourself if you want to talk with one of them about capital planning software as well as a total construction project analysis solution. 

When I conducted my interviews, I asked each member of the higher education team at AssetWorks the same question:  

If a director of facilities at a college or university talks to anyone, they generally want information that is relevant, useful, credible, and also easy to use quickly and effectively. So, why are you in a position to provide that to them? 

Here’s what Marshall McSpadden said: 

“We've been doing this for a long time. We have over 100 higher education customers. You know, we know what we're doing. Our experience is impeccable. Our service reviews are off the charts. Besides years of experience and excellent services, AssetWorks solution is the best of the breed.   

“It's mobile-friendly, user-friendly, request-friendly. You know, we continue to add to our product every year. And how we do that is not by throwing 16 developers in a room, throwing them some pizza, and Mountain Dew and say, ‘Hey, knock out some code.’ We reach out to you, Mr. or Mrs. Customer, and say, ‘What do you need?’  

“And we have programs. One's called a SIG, and one's called a CAB, where we directly work with you to build the product and build it out for precisely what higher education folks are needing. AssetWorks is solely focused on higher education. So, our solution is directed at you as a Director of Facilities wholeheartedly.  

“We only listen to you. We're not listening to 16 other market silos if you will. So we’re going to be pinpointed. We’re going to be in the trenches with you. So, I’d say we're here to help, and we have the experience, have the right people, have the right solution, and have the right future for developing our solution.” 

Here’s what Ken Jordan said: 

“Well, the simple answer is that our software was designed exactly to do that, and designed for individuals within higher education to gain that information. So, we take a holistic view of facilities management, particularly in higher education. We're purpose-built for that industry, so even things like the way our space management component of our software was designed and implemented was with higher education in mind, not the corporate world, for example. 

“But, at the end of the day, the one thing that we certainly pride ourselves on is the aggregation and easy consumption of information, right? And I alluded to tools like Power BI a little bit earlier in the conversation. Some of those tools have made it even easier. We certainly do have in-app reporting and in-app dashboarding, but some of those business intelligence tools do such a great job, especially for very senior-level leaders, of being able to consume so much of the information that you’d get from a software like ours and be able to put it in a very useful format that tells you a great deal about what’s going on within your facilities from day to day. 

“And I would say the second reason that AssetWorks is uniquely qualified to do that is because the power of a facility management software, or really any software, for that matter, comes in the implementation of a software. You can have the best software, the most capable software out there, but if it's not implemented properly, you're never going to get the speed to value, and you’re not going to get the ROI that you bargained for as part of that, as you alluded to, that long, drawn-out formal process of procuring the software. You want to have that value, and if you skip on the implementation, chances are, you're just not going to get there. 

“Our implementation services team, our professional services team, has, on average, 15 years of experience in working with a higher education facility software. Many of them, like me, actually came from that side of the business and now work on the software side of things. So, certainly, they can understand and have been in your shoes as a director of facilities information there on a college campus. 

“So really, to maximize the value out of the software, the implementation and also understanding your unique business requirements, because what's important to you, what's important to that particular campus or particular individual in a leadership role on campus may be different than a pure institution. So in addition to spending the time and the effort on the implementation, it’s also having a software that’s flexible enough to be configured to your particular business needs.” 


Here’s what Brian Carlson said: 

“In short, because of the customers that leverage AiM today, that facility manager, their peer, who uses AiM every day, and demands the exact same thing of AssetWorks. When we're designing and improving AiM, we solicit and listen to our customers’ feedback. That same use case that they have is one that we've heard from our customers and have been working on solving. We don’t develop software in a vacuum. We have prescribed processes to engage clients before and during design, to ensure that what we build meets their needs. 

“Getting back to getting data out of AiM, we’re leveraging API technology to enable a variety of tools to not to only pull the data out, but to organize it and display it the way they want to see it. Everybody wants to organize information a bit differently. That’s the challenge that we need to meet. We've opened the AiM up in a lot of ways. Enabling tools to get at the information that they need to make decisions.” 

Here’s what Paul Sharp said: 

“We have a system which is designed and built to work together. The importance of this is essential for all of us. If it's the system is designed to work together. So, it's able to share that information, throughout the system. So, from a single pane of glass, you can manage your whole department, see what's going on anywhere, intervene if you wanted to, but overall, get the picture of how everything is working, how everything's developing to make corrective decisions along the way before things go astray.    

“The AssetWorks IWMS generates large amounts of information. So, we created our IQ module which will generate reports for you. The intention of the reports is that they can be shared with everybody, so the university knows, in real time, exactly what's happening and what it's doing with its budgets within the facilities and estates department. The information they contain can be exported to other powerful reporting tools such as Microsoft Power Bi.” 

Here’s what Tony Stack said: 

“AssetWorks is predominantly a Higher Education player. One of the biggest in the world. As a result our people, our marketing and our sales process is geared toward the industry. We are 100% geared to be responsive to customer requirements and to make that point, we engage with Special Interest Groups drawn from a variety of Higher Education customers that help us define and drive our roadmap. This keeps us not only relevant to the industry but aids in identifying future needs and direction before the more general software providers pick up on those needs.   

“As I said, we have a specific focus. When we work with you, it is only AssetWorks and you. There are no 3rd parties, no “lost in the translation” costs, no cost over runs because part of the vendor ecosystem was out of the loop. We are a genuine one stop shop and we are the single throat to choke.” 

Now, I interviewed each of them independently over the course of a couple of months. So, this represents a “range” of opinions. But, I’m sure that you’ve already spotted the fairly consistent theme:  
They are experts with relevant and valuable experience that you can trust. You should strongly consider contacting one of the members of the higher education team at AssetWorks sooner rather than later.   

Hey, it won’t hurt to have a trusty guide by your side. And it will probably help you to navigate your way through a complex and difficult process. But, it’s your call.  


About Greg Jarboe  

Greg Jarboe is the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, which has provided services to the University of the Pacific, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and Dickinson College. Greg has been an instructor in several Rutgers Business School Mini-MBA programs.   

In addition, Greg is the author of YouTube and Video Marketing and the co-author with Katie Paine of the Communications Measurement eBook for Higher Education. Before co-founding SEO-PR in 2003, Greg was VP of Marketing for WebCT, where he helped to triple the company’s installed base from 700 colleges and universities in 36 countries to 2,172 higher education institutions in 75 countries.