10 Questions You Should Ask Before Scheduling an IWMS Demo
So you’ve completed your research regarding the multitude of benefits behind FM software implementation and gotten the key stakeholders in the company to agree to look further into options as far as software vendors and the systems they offer. Now it’s time to sift through your options and find the right fit for your company. The software options and subsequent choices you make are, of course, critical, but perhaps just as important, is the vendor themselves. This is a long-term investment; a process you will hopefully not undertake again for quite a while. Aligning yourself with a vendor who is in it for the long haul is just as important as the software itself. Your next step is to compile a shortlist of IWMS vendors and schedule a demo with each.
Before you set aside countless hours for demos with each one, though, there’s one more thing you’ll want to do that may help whittle down your list and save time: develop a round of key questions to the prospective vendors to help clarify the tools they offer and understand whether they’ll be a good fit with your organization. This will have a twofold effect. First, you eliminate any incompatible vendors and second, you’ll be armed with additional information that will help guide you, when it comes time to make that final decision.
Before we get into the questions you want to consider asking, we have one other critical piece of advice. The software vendor you choose should be someone you envision your company partnering with for years to come. They will be, in a sense, an extension of the business and they must possess the vision, drive, and ability to change and grow with the times. They should be on the cutting edge of technology and be consistently working to come up with innovative solutions for both your business and their own.
An organization’s website is a direct reflection on how they conduct business. Spend some time exploring their site. Does it look fresh and current? How visually pleasing is it and were they innovative in conveying their message? How much information and to what depth do they offer and how does this appeal to your desired needs? Your IWMS should not only help manage the company’s current situation, it must help lead you into the future. It is critical that the vendor you partner with recognizes this necessity and heeds their own advice.
They say you only have one chance to make a first impression. When you visited their website, what did you feel? What was your professional reaction? Impressed or looking for more? Schedule demos only with the companies that left you intrigued and excited for your combined future and you will save yourself a great deal of time during this important stage of software implementation. Now, let’s take a look at the questions we recommend posing to vendors, prior to viewing demos. If they have an informative and thorough website, some of the below questions will already be answered. The demo will give you an opportunity to explore the person behind the video and allow you to determine if they will be a good addition to your team.
- How can your software solution meet our mobility needs? Do you have mobile applications available for any of your modules? If so, which ones? What mobile devices are they compatible with? When a user updates information through the mobile app, does the module update automatically in real-time?
- What type of software training is available? Is it in-person, over the phone, or online? How long does training typically take? Is it included with the software package or are there additional fees? This will help with budgeting and ensure you have a more complete picture of initial and ongoing costs associated with implementation.
- How are software updates handled and how frequently do they occur? Are there fees associated with this process? Are updates automatic or do they have to be manually implemented?
- Can you provide a representative list of current clients that are similar in size/scope to our organization? Can you provide me with any case studies that demonstrate their return on investment, as well as insight into how user-friendly they found your system to be? This will help you gauge the software vendor’s financial stability, as well as ease of use of their system. If the vendor has difficulty listing clients or has few similar to your organization, they may not be able to cater to your company’s specific needs, both short and long-term.
- What are the system’s hardware, software, and licensing requirements? Will upgrades or new purchases be necessary? Do you offer Software as a Service (SaaS) or hosted software? Hosted software typically requires higher upfront costs and less flexibility. If additional hardware is required, you will want input from your IT department regarding cost and time involved. Note: For more on the advantages and disadvantages to Software as a Service, check out our infographic The Pros & Cons of SaaS-Based Software.
- What are the system’s integration capabilities? Who completes this process and at what cost?
- Can the IWMS be customized, both now and as we grow and realize future needs?
- What is the software’s pricing structure and are there packaging requirements for initial implementation? Do you charge based on the number of users or office locations? What do you charge for training, updates, customization, maintenance, or ongoing support? By getting a clear picture of upfront and ongoing costs associated with the software, you ensure the system aligns with your budgetary needs and staves off any unexpected expenses.
- What type of reports can the software generate? Can they be customized for our specific processes?
- What does your company do to ensure our data is secure, both from computer hackers and from a loss due to system crash or outage?
The process of identifying the Integrated Workplace Management System that fits all of your organizational needs is often an arduous one. Aligning yourself with an IWMS team that is multi-faceted and understands the dynamics of managing a facility is just as important as purchasing iwms software itself. Vendor transparency is critical from stage one of the process, as it contributes to the overall success of a relationship and ensures you have a clear picture as to what should be expected from both parties. Partner up with a company whose system (and team) will help bridge the gap between where your FM team is, and where you are wanting to go, for the future.