12 Questions You Must Ask Before Choosing a CAFM System
24/09/21 | Rebecca Drewett
Explore our 12 essential questions to ask a CAFM software vendor to ensure that the solution you acquire meets your requirements, is simple to use and is completely dependable.
When an organisation introduces powerful, reliable and comprehensive CAFM software, the potential is incredible.
More efficient, organised maintenance regimes. Complete compliance across your facilities. Space utilised to its fullest. Employees can manage their workflows and organise their routines. Substantial cost savings. Streamlined processes. FMs freed from cumbersome manual processes.
These are just a glimpse into what an exceptional CAFM system can achieve. However, not all systems are created equal. And, with more competition in this market than ever before, it is crucial that buyers know what to look for and what questions to ask to guarantee that they are investing in a platform that truly empowers their business and how it operates day to day.
With this in mind, we have highlighted what we believe to be 12 essential questions in ensuring that your CAFM software is capable of realising the full potential of this technology.
1. What is the functionality of the system?
First and foremost, it is important to have a firm idea about the capabilities of the proposed CAFM system. What FM services and functions can it support? What features are part of the core system, and which can be introduced through other modules?
Before asking this question, it is advantageous to do some research and come prepared with a list of defined goals you want to achieve through this solution. The best platforms will offer an extensive range of solutions, including:
Smart buildings software
Meeting and booking software
Property and real estate management
Space management and planning
Energy and sustainability software
Reporting, analytics and BI
Knowing what features matter to you will make it much easier to find a system that can provide these. But do keep an open mind – asking this question to a vendor might introduce you to modules and solutions you may have never considered, but have a positive influence on the way you work going forward.
2. How much does it cost?
For many, this is the all-important question. An effective CAFM solution can have a game-changing impact on the performance and productivity of your facilities, but only if it can be acquired within your budget.
Remember that cost doesn’t simply refer to the price of the software itself – you have to consider:
Long-term running costs
Price for adding new users or modules
Ongoing support and training
Upon asking this question, you are looking for three things from a vendor:
Total transparency over the costs, ensuring that no hidden fees will creep in over time that you weren’t aware of
The potential window for negotiation or discounts depending on what you need from the system
An understanding of how the initial investment in the system will return on this investment and how long this may take
3. Is the system scalable?
It is vital you receive reassurance from your vendor that your CAFM software will grow and evolve alongside your business, and will not frequently need to be replaced or redeployed when your organisation expands.
Can it accommodate unlimited users to handle both the employees you have now, and those who will join you in the future? Will it comfortably take on new buildings, equipment, assets and workflows? As your demands and responsibilities change, will your system be able to adapt accordingly?
Getting a positive answer to these and similar questions will offer confirmation that the platform can expand with you, offering consistent service regardless of your company’s situation.
4. How user-friendly is the system?
Introducing a powerful CAFM solution makes a massive difference in how FM teams operate for the better. But, it still represents a change for your employees, who may have become familiar with another approach entirely.
So, if the new system you introduce is not particularly intuitive for them to pick up, it will only strengthen any resistance to this change. This means the platform is left underutilised, and therefore unlikely to provide a return on investment that matches its true potential.
Consequently, it is important that you question the usability of the system and that the answer you receive leaves you in no doubt that it is straightforward to use with the right training and support. This should apply to everyone – not just those with more tech-based knowledge. Anyone who needs to interact with the system at any point should be able to perform their tasks with a minimum of fuss.
In addition to this, clarify whether the CAFM system allows you to control different access levels and permissions for your users. This will minimise the risk of anyone interfering with data or tasks that they shouldn’t have any influence over.
5. How secure is the system?
While CAFM software doesn’t necessarily have to hold an individual’s key personal data, such as bank account details, it will often hold commercially sensitive data. Data that could harm your business if it was hacked or stolen.
As a result, it is helpful for your vendor to give you assurance over the secureness of the platform, so the data stored within it is kept safe from any internal or external threats.
Does the vendor conduct regular penetration tests against the system?
Does the solution encrypt all sensitive data?
Do they have an internal secure coding process?
Is all code checked thoroughly before it is introduced to the product?
6. Does the system offer mobile or offline capabilities?
Flexibility and efficiency are two characteristics that should define any good CAFM system. Being able to access databases remotely and track work orders in real-time through a mobile device can provide these standout benefits.
By discovering that a platform does offer a mobile and offline solution, such as our own FSI GO Workforce Apps, this helps to create a smart network across your workforce, wherever they are accessing the system.
Everyone is kept in the loop at all times. All remote work is tracked in real-time. Administrative responsibilities are reduced. In today’s landscape, a CAFM system with mobile functionality is incredibly useful, and is worthwhile to have access to even if you don’t intend to use it immediately.
7. Can the system be customised to our needs?
Every facility is unique, and while the needs and responsibilities of most FM professionals are somewhat consistent, it is reassuring to know that your CAFM software is adaptable to your precise requirements, rather than an inflexible, one-size-fits-all package.
When seeking out a prospective platform, you should prioritise those that can be configured to your exact preferences, and enable you to develop your own bespoke solution. This will ensure that the system is built to address your needs, and is therefore totally fit-for-purpose when it comes to your environment.
8. How long will it take to deploy?
This is a key question for both the people buying the CAFM system, and those responsible for setting it up. While it is impossible to predict the future and give an exact date and time that a platform will be fully operational, having a good estimate of the timescales involved is crucial for a business to plan its schedules around this implementation.
The losses and expenses that could be incurred during an unexpected, extended period of downtime can be severe. As a result, it is essential that your vendor is able to provide a reliable roadmap for the implementation of your system, and that they know what deadlines they are expected to meet along the way.
In addition, it is helpful at this point to also gain an understanding of the experience and expertise of those who will be guiding the deployment of your system. The more capable this team is, the more likely the project will be completed on time and on budget.
9. Will the system be able to integrate with existing solutions?
Due to the all-encompassing nature of a CAFM solution, it is usually critical that it integrates seamlessly with the existing systems that you already have in place. Accounting, security, invoicing, BIM, IoT – the more agnostic your platform is in how it engages with other software, the more straightforward it will be to introduce into your organisation.
Think about it – you wouldn’t want to introduce a new system, no matter how powerful and capable it seems, if it means also having to replace half of your current ecosystem. The best solutions, such as our own Concept Evolution, should be adaptable enough to slot into this environment with total ease.
This will not only reduce the costliness of the software as a whole, but also increase the willingness of your workforce to engage with it, as the impression left on their overall landscape is reduced.
10. What is the vendor’s reputation in the FM industry?
It is beneficial to work with a team that you can trust. At FSI, our solutions have helped businesses to run smarter and streamlined FM duties for over 30 years. This experience in the industry gives our customers confidence that the platform we have been fine-tuned through years of development, and that we have the expertise to overcome any issue.
The reputation of a CAFM software provider can be a strong indicator of the quality and potential of their products. Taking the time to research their history, explore their credentials and question their background helps you guarantee that they can be trusted.
11. How experienced is the vendor in our industry?
Of course, it is ideal to work with a vendor that has a long, extensive history in FM. But, going a step further, it is important that they can demonstrate the effectiveness of their system for other customers working within your industry, or a comparable industry.
The FM needs and responsibilities of a hospital will noticeably vary from that of an office block, school or construction site. What is required from their CAFM platform will also differ in numerous ways, and so it is useful to know that your vendor understands these differences and can adapt the system accordingly.
Check to see if they have any case studies or testimonials directly related to your industry – it will reassure you that they know how to make a platform work to your requirements.
12. What support and training does the vendor offer?
Finally, it is crucial that your relationship with your vendor will go beyond simply acquiring the CAFM system and implementing it in your organisation. In order to ensure that you maximise the usage and potential that CAFM offers, it is important that your solution is backed by digestible training and a wide support network.
Will they train you on all aspects of your product’s capabilities? How long does a training session last? Is the training hands-on in front of a computer? Is training done on-site, remotely, or a mixture of both? Is there potential for future sessions or refresher courses?
The more comprehensive your vendor’s training solutions are, the more likely you are going to get the absolute most out of your system. In relation to support:
How do you reach out to the support team? (email, phone, chat, etc.)
What days and hours can they be reached?
Are there different tiers of support depending on the urgency of the issue?
How quick are their response times?
Is support outsourced or conducted by their own team?
Ongoing support plays such an important role in the continued success and development of your CAFM solution. That’s why at FSI our support services are truly comprehensive, efficiently resolving concerns to ensure that products work optimally and to cause minimal disruption to business operations.
Make a wise investment with Concept Evolution
Selecting a CAFM software solution is a big commitment for any business, and one that should never be taken lightly. The functionality, usability and cost of these systems can vary significantly from provider to provider, and not all will prove suitable for your team’s requirements.
We hope that by having these questions in the forefront of your mind when you seek out a CAFM system, you’ll be able to confidently search through the solutions available right now, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and find a platform that allows you to make the most of what CAFM has to offer.
Of course, the ideal platform may be closer than you think. Concept Evolution is the ultimate solution for total building management, enabling you to connect and control your entire facility through one wholly integrated ecosystem.
One straightforward, easy-to-use system
Complete end-to-end insight over your operations
Backed by over 30 years’ technical experience
For more information about Concept Evolution and why it is among the market leaders for CAFM software, get in touch with our team.
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