Whether you’re moving away from pen and paper or upgrading from excel spreadsheets, finding a digital asset management system can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task.
You’re entrusted to search for a tool that matches your business’s requirements when it comes to managing its assets, whilst remaining within a set budget. You’ll then need to choose a vendor that matches a desired deployment time, as well as keeping in mind training availability and existing data migration.
To help you on your journey, we’ve highlighted seven simple steps to assist you when it comes to shortlisting Asset Management Software options. These include:
- Quantify your business, user-level and technical requirements
- Scan the market as if you were looking to buy a new house
- Shortlist your options. Compare qualitative options before focusing on price
- Refine your options using standard vendor demonstrations, looking for usability, implementation and pricing
- Go for the second demo, a more detailed one – the key here is to get an in-depth understanding of the usability and workflow capabilities of your software options
- Do reference checks on software, implementation and support
- Drive a good deal
1. Quantify Your Business, User Level and Technical Requirements
When it comes to requirements mapping, most people either focus on business or functional requirements (Functional Requirements = User Level Requirements). The key is a balanced focus on all three types of requirements.
On Business Requirements, the biggest takeaway is to quantify your requirements. Typically business requirements are surrounding;
- 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.
Another area that is overlooked is collaboration before finalising your business requirements. Can salespeople benefit from asset location when they are talking to your customers? Do account managers benefit from asset efficiency reports? Can your service team benefit from knowing the costs of assets?
Functional or User Level Requirements
Quite often the thinking is to replicate your workflows and processes in the new management software. Try to think about how you can improve processes to match your asset management strategy via a new asset management solution.
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 (it is quite often a tick-box exercise). Following are some pointers;
- 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).
- Security features of your hosting and your asset management solution.
- 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. Scan the Market
Try to put the same effort in to choosing your next asset management tool as you would into buying a home. i.e. Don’t just look at the few websites on page one of google, look deep down till page four or five.
3. Shortlist Your Options
Based on your requirements above look at case studies and product brochures to come up with an initial shortlist. A pro tip – look for software options that are already implemented in your industry.
With your initial shortlist of asset management vendors, the next step would be to compare them qualitatively before just comparing on price.
4. Look For a Demo, Usability, Implementation and Pricing
Qualitative comparison of software means comparing:
- Generic Demo for Workflow
- Involve Users
Compare the usability of all your options by looking at product images and demos. Get an understanding of layout and see if they can suit your workflows (if you have already mapped them in the first stage). Definitely involve users at this stage and get an understanding of their preferences. Naturally, implementation timescales should be noted as well. After qualitative comparison you will have a further refined shortlist of your asset management options.
5. Go For a Second Demo, a More Detailed One
The attendees from your side should be power users of the software and people who understand overall processes and a couple of management-level people. The second or in-depth demo should be done with your data or data that is very close to 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. Carry Out Vendor Checks
Typically at this stage, you are generally left with 2 or 3 choices. The next step is a financial reference check on the vendor (you can use duedil – it’s free and good), software, support and implementation.
Really get into the depth and try not to make it a tick-box exercise.
7. Drive a Good Deal
Once you are happy with the quality, the next step is to drive a good deal. As you may know, you get what you pay for, 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… it will complement your asset management strategy.