When searching for an asset management tool, you’re entrusted with finding a solution that matches a set budget and delivers on desired functionality.
Typically, most first-time buyers use manual methods to manage their company assets. 62% of Comparesoft users use spreadsheets, while 29% of businesses don’t have any management system in place.
Whether you’re moving away from pen and paper or upgrading from Excel spreadsheets, finding a more digital-focused asset management system can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task. To help, we’ve constructed a 7-step guide for first-time software buyers:
- Quantifying your requirements
- Scanning the market
- Doing reference checks
- Shortlisting suitable options
- Undertaking product demos
- Driving a good deal
- Building an implementation plan
Find the Best Asset Management Software for First-Time Buyers
1. Quantify Your Requirements
Requirements and features are the driving force behind looking for a new system that helps to solve problems such as:
- Lack of asset visibility
- Assets being unavailable at critical moments
- High insurance and compliance costs
- Poor inventory management
- High asset maintenance costs
- Asset Register: How many assets do we have and where are they?
- Asset Efficiency: Depending on the type of your assets (fixed assets, IT assets or consumables) asset efficiency could change. For example for fixed assets, utilisation and uptime are important whereas for IT Assets it tends to be entitlement and usage.
- Asset Performance: How should your asset management solution measure performance?
- Asset Life Extension: What are your business parameters for asset life extension? Is it purely asset age or asset uptime or asset movement, how would you like to record, manage and influence it via software?
- Asset Tracking: What would it mean to your business to track assets? Is it more control, visibility or compliance? How do you want to track asset movement? Via GPS, Barcode or RFID?
- Asset Maintenance: How should your asset service management software report on asset maintenance and what are your key indicators to measure asset maintenance?
A pro tip here is to quantify your business requirements. Let’s say for example that you have assets worth £10 million. Across the next 5 years if you manage your assets effectively then let’s say you will get a 2% efficiency increase per year on your asset value. In other words £200,000 value from your assets per year which equates to £1 million value to your business across 5 years.
So now you can present numbers to your management and get buy-in right at the start. This also helps you to understand how much you can budget for your asset management software. To get a £1 million return you could perhaps look at spending £50,000 to £100,000 on your asset management solution.
Functional or User Level Requirements
Your new software should not only replicate your current processes but also provide the opportunity to improve your current processes (which means some processes need to be eliminated, some can be bypassed and some will require tweaking). The following are some of the vital steps in detailing your functional requirements;
- Map out your workflows: Every detail, task, document, approval level and reporting requirement needs to be mapped out.
- Usability: Involve your users to get an understanding of usability requirements. In theory and in practice your software should have big clear buttons for the processes that are most often used by your users.
- Mobile Requirements: Think about what your users would like to see on mobile/tablet devices and how your mobile workflows needs to be mapped to this.
- Dissatisfaction from the current systems: This could be a long list, generally it is. Otherwise, you would not be looking for new asset management solution.
This is generally looked at in the later stages of the buying process and is quite often a tick-box exercise.
- Asset Management Software Hosting: Where would you like to host your asset management solution? In your office (on-premise), Somewhere else (virtual servers) or in the cloud (public cloud or private cloud).
- Safety and data security: Security features of your hosting and your asset management solution.
- Data back-up: Back-up procedures and protocols are equally important.
- Data Cleansing Guidelines: In practice, data must be cleaned every six months. It is vital to figure out the best ways to do this right at the start.
2. Research and Scan the Market
Performing market research is crucial in the early stages of finding Asset Management Software for several reasons, including:
- Helping to secure company buy-in
- Gaining a better understanding of product and implementation costs
- Seeing how many products and vendors can match your requirements
- Highlighting the training needed for staff
Finding the right asset management tool for you should consist of the same steps as it would when, for example, finding a house or a car. Your research process should be in-depth, whether that means trolling through multiple pages on Google or using more sophisticated search comparison tools.
Also, be sure to have your list of requirements and must-haves with you at all times during the research process. This can help find products that match your needs as well as eliminate those that don’t.
Use Our Asset Management Software Finder to Identify the Best Tool For You
What Type of Assets Are You Looking to Manage?
3. Check Product & Vendor References
95% of customers in 2023 read online reviews before they purchased a product. Just as you would when purchasing a phone or a computer, look for user reviews and testimonials about both the product and the vendor.
Verified reviews are a great way to look past product marketing campaigns and understand how the product works in real life. Look out for reviews about:
- Usability and user interface
- Support offered by the vendor
- Hidden costs
4. Shortlist Your Options
By creating a shortlist of products following your market research, you’re one step closer to finding the right Asset Management Software for your business. This step is essentially used to narrow down your software options by looking at case studies, user reviews, and functionality.
To create a list of products, ask yourself:
- Does the vendor have experience in your industry?
- Is the product within your budget?
- Does the product have the right features?
- Is the product accommodating for first-time users (training, support, etc.?)
By the end of this stage, you should have a list of 3-5 products. With a manageable number of products to look at, you can begin to rank each one by varying factors like price, reviews, and features.
5. Take a Demo…And Then Do It Again
Like you would test drive a car or view a house before purchasing, you’ll want to have a demonstration of each software product from your shortlist. Demos can be scheduled with salespeople or even performed on the vendor’s website.
Compare the usability of all your options by looking at product images and demos. Get an understanding of the product layout and see if it suits your workflow. It’s also important that you involve users at this stage too and get an understanding of their preferences. Naturally, implementation timescales should be noted as well.
After a few days, go back for a second product demo. A second in-depth demo should be done with your data or data that matches your processes. Here you should be looking for how closely your workflows can be replicated in the software and how your workflows can be improved.
Deep dive on usability; try and get a role-based demo. In other words, a demo for your asset manager, facilities manager, inventory manager, etc.
Also understand any software risks; data, implementation, workflows, support, training, etc.
6. Drive a Good Deal
By this stage, your choice of software will be narrowed down to one; the winner. Now, all that’s left to do is strike a deal and sign the contract.
As you may know, you get what you pay for, so don’t drive too hard a bargain. A long-term relationship with your vendor will bring more benefits financially than just discounts at the start. Try and negotiate on support or implementation rather than just price, and get more on quality.
Once the price and implementation timescale have been agreed upon, the contract management process can begin. This involves internal reviews, contract drafting, negotiations, renewal dates, and contract signing.
7. Build an Implementation Plan
Just because you’ve signed the contract, doesn’t mean you’re ready to start using the product right away. The product now needs to be safely and successfully implemented. In 2020, research showed that unsuccessful IT projects, including poor software implementation, contributed $260 billion to the total cost of poor software quality.
Adopting and integrating a chosen software product into your business workflows requires a lot of patience and careful planning. This is why every first-time software buyer should have an implementation plan in place. When building your implementation plan, consider:
- Preparing all users as early as possible
- Setting a date for the changeover
- Assigning a project manager to lead the implementation
- Setting up an area for user training and tutorials prior to the launch
- Communicating with employees at every stage
BONUS: Measure Performance
One of the most important steps when purchasing software is measuring its success. This can either be an ongoing process or weekly and monthly reviews to ensure your new purchase is justifying its cost.
Measuring the performance of your newly implement Asset Management Software will indicate if the solution is performing how it was intended and if you’re achieving the ROI you expected.
If the data suggests that you’re not getting as much return on your investment as originally hoped for, it could be time to explore other options.