Why You Need Your Facilities Management Software Provider to Be More Than a Vendor
As a former Facilities Director, I know that one of the most important decisions you can make is the selection of a Facilities Management SoftwareProvider. In terms of software, your Facilities Management System is the most heavily utilized that your department will purchase. This system will be used daily by most, if not all of your Facilities personnel, not to mention those outside of Facilities who are requesting service from a campus-facing portal.
The alphabet soup of these systems (IWMS, CMMS, CAFM) can be somewhat confusing, but be clear that whichever term you use, you are choosing a long-term partner that your success depends on.
At AssetWorks, we have many clients who have been with us for 20+ years. Talk about long-term relationships!
Here are four questions you should ask before you make a decades long commitment.
Are They Familiar with Your Industry?
We’ve been serving the Higher Education market since 1991, and the Government market almost as long. To saythat we are purpose-built for Higher Education is an understatement! Many Facilities Softwares are built to be “market agnostic”and take what I call the “asset is an asset, building is a building” approach.
But we know that the business processes and other dynamics of an operating campus are unique, so we have developed solutions tailored to the needs of the markets we serve. For example, our ReADY Request platform for work intake was designed with the student experience, superior customer service, and departmental project approvals in mind.
Another great example of this is our Space Management platform. One of the key capabilities is Space Survey, which is built for Higher Education to help institutions recapture costs associated with locations used for grant-funded research.
It’s as simple as this. Would you choose an Architect to design a complex science laboratory building for your campus if they’ve only designed strip malls? No way! You want someone who has an established reputation in your industry.
Do They Listen to Their Customers?
By listen, I mean really listen. Does the feedback from you and your peers influence the product development roadmap? Here at AssetWorks, we have a few different ways that we have found very effective over time to solicit feedback.
Our Special Interest Group, or “SIG” Process is utilized when we want to develop new capabilities, like ReADY Request mentioned above. A select committee of customers gives input on what they would like to see based on their needs. The capabilities and design of the software are heavily influenced by this feedback. As we like to say, we don’t just lock our developers in a room with a month’s worth of Mountain Dew and pizza and expect them to come out with a brilliant product, it is a collaborative, formal engagement with the customers throughout the entire software development lifecycle.
Our annualuser conference, AssetWorld, is a highlight of the year for many of our customers. In addition to an excellent networking opportunity, it allowsusers to get to know the people who design and maintain the software they use every day. The bottom line is a User Conference is one of the best ways to get the most out of a Facilities Management Software.
Do They Continuously Improve Their Product?
I mentioned the Product Roadmap above. A partner who is truly continuously improving their product should have a Major Release Schedule that is predictable (AssetWorks typically has two major releases each year, in the Spring and Fall). These releases should be more than “patches” and incorporate feedback, increase functionality, and even the addition of new modules. The best partner is constantly reinvesting your maintenance or subscription dollars back into the product!
Can They Take You Across the Finish Line?
These are somethings you may not think about during an initialFacilities Management Software Demo, where going down a checklist of features might be your first priority. Don’t get me wrong, this is an important exercise.You may have the most customer-centric vendor, but if they don’t fit 80-90% of your needs with an off the shelf solution, you might need to keep looking.
Unless you have the budget to order a completely custom solution, you will need a commercial off the shelf (COTS) software. However, each institution’s business processes and needs are different. You need to make sure that a software is sufficiently configurable if your operations are more complex. On the other hand, you might just want to have a system pre-loaded with industry best practices. In which case, our 1FM solution might be right up your alley.
However, if you fall in the former category the best partners will have the capacity and capability for custom development work. I recently worked with Yale University to incorporate custom development into their implementation plan, and we found that many of their requirements would benefit other customers as well.
"AssetWorks has been very responsive in implementing changes to its core platform. Given AssetWorks both develops and implements their software, we were able to provide our input about some of our unique business needs. AssetWorks listened to us and incorporated many of our requirements that would bring value to other customers into their product roadmap."
- John Kaufhold, Senior Director, Regional Business Operations, Yale University
How Can You Get Started?
The best way to learn more is to contact the AssetWorks Higher Education team. With an average of over 15 years of Higher Education Facilities experience on our team we’d love to talk about your current challenges, goals, and how we can help take your team to the next level. You can also connect with me directly on LinkedIn.
About the Author
Ken is currently the Director of Sales at AssetWorks and has close to a decade of working with Higher Education Facilities. Before moving to the Facilities tech industry, Ken served as a Director of Facilities at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and Millikin University in Decatur, IL.