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Facilities Management Software Buyer’s Guide

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Facilities Management (FM) software enables facilities and maintenance managers to more effectively track work orders, schedule resources and events, and plan maintenance, while controlling costs and preserving asset value. FM software is a solution that maximizes efficiency, streamlines processes, and delivers insights into facility operations.

Many lines of communication are involved in the everyday tasks that keep facilities up and running. The optimal FM software acts as a centralized hub. It gives staff, tenants, and vendors a place to submit and follow work orders and provides facilities managers with insight into maintenance activities and costs. An effective FM software solution will offer: • Modules for managing work orders, scheduling preventive maintenance, managing inventory and equipment, and scheduling events • Extensive customization options to fit your team’s operations • Robust reporting and analytics • A simple, easy-to-use interface with a short learning curve • Mobile access • Automatic notifications • A dedicated customer support team and additional educational resources When used effectively, FM software helps facilities departments take better control of their operations and gain deeper insights into their facility’s cost and maintenance trends. This guide will help you define your needs and walk you through the buying process, so you can find an FM software solution that best fits your organization.

Facilities management is often an understaffed, underfunded department. Those responsible for managing facilities can find it hard to gather enough information to make decisions. As a result, personnel tend to spend their time reacting to the latest (or loudest) request, leaving less time available for developing or following a proactive maintenance plan. Manually tracking and monitoring work orders and repairs using outdated processes inevitably leads to missed and delayed maintenance activities, decreased service life for equipment, and increased overall costs. Good FM software helps facility managers decide whether to make a repair or to replace equipment, which work order to prioritize, which staff member to send on a job, and when to do the work. It also helps busy FM departments catch up by streamlining their processes and improving the accountability of staff and vendors, saving departments both time and money.

IMPROVE EFFICIENCY To a busy facilities manager, time is everything. The time it takes to address an issue directly affects your facilities and the happiness of your oocupants. FM software enables you to stay organized and automates cumbersome processes that would otherwise eat away at your time. Scheduling preventive maintenance through FM software also improves uptime and can extend the lifespan of your equipment. Streamline Your Workflow FM software allows you to pivot quickly between tasks, eliminate disappearing work orders, and automate processes, such as sharing updates on work orders with the requester. Customizable user permissions let you take control of who can interact with what and make approval processes quick and easy. Extend Lifespan of Equipment It’s no secret that practicing regular preventive maintenance prolongs the life of your equipment, saves energy, reduces downtime, and prevents costly emergency repairs. FM software takes the hard work out of preventive maintenance by providing users with a central place to schedule preventive maintenance tasks, receive automated alerts when tasks must be carried out, and keep up-to-date with required inspections.

DECREASE COSTS, MAXIMIZE BUDGETS With FM software, you’ll be able to track maintenance, labor, and inventory costs like never before. FM software grants you the ability to pull reports and gain insight into problem areas. This information helps facilities managers discover ways to cut costs and improve their facilities. Discover Cost-Saving Opportunities When facilities management processes are carried out by pencil and paper, or through outdated software, you miss out on the chance to view your department’s performance and cost data over extended periods of time. An FM software solution with reporting features helps you analyze data that could lead to fixing or replacing equipment items whose costs outweigh their value.

IMPROVE ACCOUNTABILITY It’s critical that facilities managers keep track of the progress of maintenance tasks to ensure they’re completed in a timely manner. FM software helps you keep tabs on the work performance of yourself, your team, and outside vendors. It enables you to keep up with the timelines of work orders, communicate with your team and vendors, and track data, such as the time spent resolving tasks. Communicate Directly With Your Vendors By setting up your outside vendors as users within your FM software, you can track when communication was sent, if due dates are missed, how long tasks take to be completed, and the payment process that follows project completion. Holding vendors to deadlines set within FM software has been shown to improve the attentiveness and efficiency of outside vendors. Evaluate Your Staff’s Work Activity Knowing the ins and outs of your team’s work performance is key to providing efficient and effective service to your department. The ability to assign and review each team member’s work orders allows you to stay on top of their work progress. Analytics related to team performance help you uncover insights such as who is the fastest/slowest at closing out tasks and evaluate if their time is being put to good use.

When should we implement fm software?

The earlier you get started, the quicker you receive your return on investment. Still not sure if it’s the right time for your organization to pursue a new FM software system? Let’s dive into some common reasons why organizations delay implementing FM software, and why these scenarios are actually the perfect time to implement.

  1. “We’re moving or adding a new building to our facilities”: This is your chance to start fresh and protect your investment in a new building. It’s the perfect time to organize past work orders, preventive maintenance tasks, event schedules, and begin an accurate account of inventory, resources, etc. Because staff will already be adjusting to the new environment, this is an ideal time to introduce a new software so they can grow accustomed to using it in the new space.
  2. We’re hesitant to change our current system: Because you are already familiar with your needs and the capabilities of FM software, you can more confidently assess and choose the FM software solution that suits your organization better than what you currently have in place. Loading information into a new FM system will be less of a hassle because your information already exists in your current system. You’re already allocating budget to a software system and software systems change and improve constantly. It’s worth your time to see what else is out there and if you can get a better product for the same amount of money, or less.
  3. Our budget is tight: FM systems have been proven to provide a return on investment in as little as six months. Create a compelling argument for an FM system by projecting the savings and becoming well-versed on the features and benefits your chosen solution offers. Investigate cloud-based FM systems. Cloud-based systems generally have a smaller upfront cost than their on-premises counterparts since they follow a subscription-based model.

Evaluating FM Software Systems

WHAT’S THE RIGHT FM SYSTEM FOR ME? Finding the right FM software for your organization begins with asking yourself the right questions. We’ve broken this process down into two steps.

STEP ONE: Self-Assessment Step one focuses on discovering your pain points. We’ll provide you with questions that will help to define your organization’s needs.

STEP TWO: Vendor Evaluation Step two will help you better understand what features are available in most systems. With each feature comes a set of key questions you can ask vendors during your evaluation process.

Self-Assessment Review and answer the following questions about your current processes to help identify your needs and areas that can be improved upon. • What prompted you to seek out a maintenance management solution? Define three of your largest pain points or challenges. • What areas are most important to you? For example: – Work Order Management – Preventive Maintenance – Event Scheduling – Facility Rental – Inventory & Asset Management – Transportation Scheduling – Analytics & Reporting – Technology Ticketing – Purchase Order Management • How do you currently track these areas (e.g. work orders)? • How does your team prioritize these areas (e.g. work orders)? • How are you measuring and evaluating your department’s efficiency? • Are you looking for a cloud-based or on-premises software solution?

Vendor Evaluation To ensure you find the right fit for your needs, become familiar with the various features most maintenance management systems offer. The key questions provided in this guide will assist you in your evaluation process. Use them to guarantee that you’re fully educated on the offerings of each product you evaluate. Does the vendor offer live demos? When it comes to the in-person evaluation process, be wary of companies that do not offer live demos. Live demos are crucial as they give you a feel for the product’s speed, user-friendliness, and overall capabilities. If the salesperson uses still images, instead of demonstrating workflows in real time in the program, this is a red flag. It may be a sign that the software is not reliable enough for the salesperson to feel comfortable using it during the demo, which does not bode well for you.

MODULES Here are the typical modules a well-equipped FM software solution should offer. When you’re comparing systems, be aware of the application’s usefulness versus its complexity. Modules should be simple to use but still have the flexibility to meet your specific needs. If your workflow includes processes outside of the modules offered, ask vendors if they accommodate and create customized modules for customers. A thorough evaluation process requires participation in a combination of free trials and live demonstrations. By fully experiencing the system in this way you’ll feel more confident in your final decision. Work Order Management This is a basic function every FM software system should have. The ideal choice will have a workflow that makes creating, responding to, assigning, tracking, and resolving work orders a simple task for users of all skill levels. It should also be capable of tracking the cost of work orders and the time spent on them. Most solutions will give organizations the option for staff to submit their requests via email in addition to entering them directly into the software. This simple and familiar way of submitting requests makes it easier for users to adapt to your chosen solution. Preventive Maintenance Scheduling This is a vital module that helps eliminate unplanned downtime and unnecessary expense. The ideal software should automatically issue reminders for scheduled preventive maintenance tasks. Event Scheduling If rooms and resources in your facilities are booked for events, this feature is a must-have. FM software should ensure event success by eliminating the double-booking of rooms and resources and enabling flexible approval processes. An FM system should also be able to manage rental requests from community users.

Inventory and Asset Management Tracking inventory and assets can be a simple task with the help of FM software and doing so should allow for inventory items to be linked to corresponding work orders. A feature in high demand that streamlines inventory tracking is the QR code creator. Having a unique QR code for each asset saves time as you can access asset information in the field. Scan codes from any smartphone or tablet to adjust inventory quantities and obtain asset maintenance procedures and history. Technology Ticketing A good FM software system can make tracking technology asset information and historical ticket data quick and easy. Your software solution is meant to save you time, so make sure yours is capable of keeping requesters in the loop regarding the status of their tickets by sending automatic notifications. Purchase Order Management This feature should simplify the purchasing of equipment and inventory by allowing you to create and approve purchases while tracking received shipments. Transportation Scheduling This feature should allow you to assign drivers and vehicles to ensure proper staffing for trips while keeping track of vehicle maintenance and repair costs.

INTERFACE A well designed interface can be the difference between your new FM system becoming a success or a flop within your organization. It’s important the solution you choose is capable of keeping your information organized and is easy enough for all your intended users to navigate. If your colleagues and staff don’t feel comfortable using the software, chances are they’ll be slow to warm up to it.

CUSTOM FIELD SUPPORT Custom fields, also known as user-defined fields, are incredibly useful and allow for forms and other areas of the system to be tailored to meet the needs of your organization. For example, if you need to document a vehicle’s license plate number when storing it as an asset in the system, and your chosen system doesn’t contain an out-of-the-box field to capture that information, make sure you have the ability to create a new customized field to track license plate numbers.

UNLIMITED REQUESTING USERS AND ROLE-BASED USER ACCESS The ability to grant access to an unlimited number of requesting users prevents bottlenecks in your workflow. Empowering more people to use your software solution improves communication and streamlines lengthy processes.

REPORTING AND ANALYTICS Don’t just store your data, use it to extract insights into your operations. The ideal software will have robust, interactive analytics features, enabling you to identify your KPIs and view this data in a variety of charts and reports. Drilling down into reports and exporting the data to share with your team is also an important capability to consider. Some vendors will offer customizable reports that can be created specifically for your organization.

MOBILE ACCESS Many issues can come up in a day that require you to address them in-person. An FM software system that does not allow mobile access hinders your efficiency. This feature keeps you up-to-date with your facilities anytime, anywhere, and without being chained to your desk.

SINGLE SIGN-ON CAPABILITIES If you’re looking to integrate your FM software with an onpremises active directory system or Google Apps, be sure to check that your solution has this capability so you can ensure your colleagues have a seamless login experience.

AUTOMATIC NOTIFICATIONS A huge return on investment received from your FM software will be in the form of extra time for you and your team. Your FM software should allow you to set up automatic notifications to alert users when they’re assigned to a task, when the status of a work order or event changes, or when a work order is resolved.

CUSTOMER SUPPORT When you purchase FM software, you’re entering a partnership with that company. Before you take this leap, be positive that you will have adequate support if the need ever arises. Make sure you know what support options your solution offers. An ideal solution will have a resource library, a responsive support team, and lifetime customer support.

DATA OWNERSHIP Data ownership may not be at the forefront of your mind during the evaluation process, but you’ll wish it had been if you ever decide to change software. Some companies may keep your data, meaning it cannot be exported out of the system if you choose to use another service. Others might make the data export or transfer process very cumbersome. Get to know the data export processes your chosen solution offers in case you ever need to export your data.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT The facilities management industry is ever changing— you need software that can keep up. Choose a solution with a positive track record for updating and improving their software.

PRICING Pricing varies among software companies and it pays to ask as many questions as necessary so you fully understand what you’re paying for. Some companies will increase annual costs at the end of each subscription term–this is called uplift. Become familiar with each vendor’s process so you don’t get caught off guard.