How to find the right facilities management software that allows you to enhance the planning and service of your management and maintenance facility processes.

Whether you’re a landlord, owner of a facilities management company, or the facilities manager of a business centre, this facilities management software buyer’s guide is for you.

Using our 6-step process, you’ll be able to highlight the features and requirements you need to find a facilities management software solution that best suits you, your team and your company.

6 Steps to Finding the Right Facilities Management Software:

  1. Map out your current facility management processes

  2. Highlight challenges within your building and ground maintenance, service teams, space management, equipment downtime and reservations that you aim to solve with a CAFM tool

  3. Identify specific management and maintenance features you need to meet your facilities management software requirements and future milestones

  4. Shortlist facilities management software vendors and compare features, industry fit, service and prices

  5. Communicate your chosen Facilities Management Software to your maintenance team and to the decision-makers to drive buy-in

  6. Develop a detailed deployment and integration plan for your facilities management software tool with your team and vendor

1. Map out your current facility management processes

Your role as a facilities manager is to ensure functionality, safety, and efficiency within the built environment. As you well know, this is achieved through various processes of management and maintenance throughout the premises. However, keeping on top of multiple processes can become overwhelming, especially if you’re still using traditional methods such as pen-and-paper or spreadsheets.

Before delving into the world of CAFM tools and facility management vendor products, it’s important to map out your current facilities processes.

A great way to do this is to ask questions, such as:

  • What is your process for creating a facility maintenance schedule?

    This could be your current process of scheduling and planning mechanical, electrical or structural maintenance. For example, consider your process of planning a preventive maintenance schedule for maintaining premises facilities, such as heating systems and elevators.

  • What is your process for recruiting external facility service personnel?

    This could include liaising with external facility management companies to help manage processes such as cleaning, catering, waste management, security and ground maintenance. This is as well as collecting and managing data regarding each external contractor and their word orders.

  • How do you ensure the availability of equipment to occupants?

    Supplying equipment doesn’t just mean making sure water coolers and kitchen kettles are available; it also requires you to know where each one of your facility assets is stored, as well as monitoring each piece of equipment as they’re moved between office spaces.

  • How do you collect and store occupant and space management data?

    Most likely stored in a spreadsheet, you would have collected valuable data regarding the occupants of each physical office space in the premises. This could be an occupant’s name, company name, length of residency, and any financial details regarding rental agreements.

  • How do you communicate work orders between maintenance personnel, occupants, contractors and management?

    When spearheading the premises’ facility operations, it’s imperative that you keep in touch with all levels of your team. Whether that be by email, phone call, or two-way radio, or walkie-talkie. This includes relaying information to maintenance personnel, technicians, groundskeepers and occupants. The same goes for your executive management team too, as they need regular updates regarding ongoing facility work orders.

  • How do you recognise and implement the latest facilities’ management trends?

    Part of your management role may be to scan and analyse the facilities’ management market for current trends that can positively affect your processes. For example, a more recent trend is the use of drones and aerial imagery to help identify required maintenance on roofs and exteriors of high-rise buildings.

Facility processes in a built environment with facilities management software

2. Highlight challenges within your building and ground maintenance, service teams, space management, equipment downtime and reservations that you aim to solve with a CAFM Tool

When identifying the problems and challenges within your current facility processes, it’s best to separate them into two groups: hard and soft. Hard problems are measurable and can directly affect operations, whereas soft problems are more generalised and may not be quantifiable.

Here are some typical challenges that most facilities managers will come across during their management and maintenance processes:

Hard Problems

  • Not having a centralised system to store maintenance and occupant data

    You’re collecting a large amount of data, such as lease agreements, maintenance schedules and space reservations. This data is then stored and spread out across various computers, spreadsheets, and paper documents – making it a challenge to instantly access data when you need it the most.

  • Not accurately recording your maintenance expenditure and facility running costs

    From replacing inventory and equipment to producing energy audits, you’re expected to track the cost of each facility process. But without reporting tools, real-time tracking equipment and a centralised database, it can be tough to accurately account for all management and maintenance spending.

  • Not effectively scheduling maintenance of critical equipment to reduce downtime

    To allow processes to run smoothly and keep occupant morale at a high, you have a responsibility to supply the right equipment at the right time. But, without the right data to build a preventive maintenance schedule, you’re more than likely going to experience sudden equipment failure, meaning equipment becomes unavailable to maintenance staff, office space and occupants for an extended amount of time.

  • Not responding to facility, maintenance or occupant incidents

    Complaints, requests, and disruptions are in danger of being forgotten when written down on a notepad or stored in a spreadsheet. By not scheduling or reacting to an incident in a timely manner, it can quickly escalate into an emergency.

Soft Problems

  • Failing to have a clear line of work order communication between maintenance teams

    Without having an accessible centralised system, there can be confusion among work orders. For example, data on spreadsheets can be duplicated or deleted without your knowledge by another team member.

  • Not securely backing up maintenance and occupant data to a web-based/cloud-based system

    The data you store is extremely valuable and consists of financial details, occupant information and asset data. Without backing up to a secure cloud-based system, your data is vulnerable to natural disasters or being compromised.

  • Failing to keep up with health and safety regulations and facilities compliance

    You’re responsible for making sure equipment and facilities are in line with all current and standard regulations. That includes licences, warranties, health and safety checks, and lease agreements. Without having an automated notification system, regulation updates and safety standards could be forgotten.

Top Tip: Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoints problems or challenges within your own workflow, which is why it’s a good idea to seek external input. Don’t be afraid to ask your team or management if there is anything they can see that needs improving. You could also contact other facility managers in your industry and ask what challenges they have faced.

3. Identify specific management and maintenance features you need to meet your facilities management software requirements and future milestones

Having a solid understanding of what you require from a CAFM tool can benefit your decision in two ways:

  1. You are able to generate goals and milestones to which you are able to measure the success of using a facilities management and maintenance tool.

  2. You are able to clearly outlay what you expect to achieve from the tool, which you can then communicate to the business’s decision-makers.

After mapping out key responsibilities and highlighting challenges, you can then identify the specific management and maintenance features you need. For example, you may require a tool to:

  • Improve the workflow of your maintenance processes

    Not only can the improvement of workflow management enhance communication between maintenance personnel and teams, but it also enables processes to run smoother. You can see what equipment is scheduled or overdue for maintenance. As well as what maintenance is being done and where, and the status of each process. You can also send updates and reports to your executive management team for reassurance.

  • Reduce ongoing facility costs throughout the premises

    With the right facilities’ management tool, you can accurately track and record all of your facilities and maintenance spendings. With this data, you are also able to produce reports and data analytics to identify the resources that are having the biggest impact on your budget. Larger costs on the premises can include energy bills, ground maintenance, and the recruitment of personnel for catering, cleaning, and security. For instance, in 2018 energy expenses averaged $0.06 per square foot (PSF) for industrial buildings. With ground and landscape maintenance expenses averaging $0.02 PSF.

  • Track equipment and facility assets in real-time

    The right CAFM tool lets you connect and sync tracking technologies such as RFID tags and GPS trackers to provide real-time data. This is particularly handy for tracking larger building assets, such as fleet vehicles. This is in addition to being able to connect IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled devices to collect real-time data such as energy usage and equipment failure. As of 2018, 47% of manufactures are placing a greater emphasis on the use of IoT devices in their built environments.

  • Store and organise occupant, office space, reservation and maintenance data

    Instead of collecting and storing data in various spreadsheets and folders, you may require an easier solution. A web-based/cloud-based facilities management system will provide you with a central repository for all of your data.

  • Assist with the procurement of assets such as equipment and inventory

    Not only are you able to manage inventory and equipment stock levels in real-time, but you can also record your facility purchases to help plan future procurement budgets. An automated ordering system can also be built-in to the system to make the re-stocking process even more efficient.

  • Improve maintenance scheduling to prolong the usability of equipment

    With facilities management software, you’ll have the ability to track the life cycle of all assets and equipment within the building. This helps to build effective preventive maintenance schedules that include servicing and usage data, letting you know when to repair or replace an asset to avoid extended periods of downtime.

  • Enhance the health and well-being of occupants

    Health and well-being are essential for increasing work quality and productivity in the workplace. By monitoring processes and collecting data, you’re able to understand the effect your management has on an occupant’s well-being. This includes physical factors such as air quality, temperature comfort, and lighting levels, as well as physiological well-being such as access to nature and having an outside view.

Top Tip: To make sure you’re getting the very best solution for your processes, we recommend separating your requirements in two lists: ‘I need’ vs. ‘It’d be nice’. Using this method allows you to prioritise certain aspects over others. For example, I need the system to be cloud-based for access to all facility data on mobile devices. Or, it’d be nice if we could upload our company logo into the system.

4. Shortlist Facilities Management Software vendors and compare them on features, industry fit, service and prices

While most facilities management software solutions can look the same, there are little variations that can make a significant difference. Here’re the steps we recommend taking while searching for the right vendor:

  1. Have a definitive list of the features, requirements and milestones you need

  2. Begin scanning the entire facilities management software marketplace

  3. Shortlist at least five vendors that either completely match or moderately match your list of features and requirements

  4. Screenshot, write down or print out the features that each vendor can supply

  5. Make a list of noteworthy points from each vendor such as free trials, training support and prices

Top Tip: Instead of spending countless hours searching for the right CAFM solution, use our AI-generated search tool. Just enter a few details about your facility requirements and within minutes you’ll be presented with the best facilities management software options in the UK.

At the end of this comparison and evaluation stage, you should be left with the ideal tool that is going to meet your requirements. While also improving the efficiency of your management and maintenance processes, and helping to achieve milestones.

Here’re a few points to keep in mind when it comes to comparing facilities management software vendors against one another:

  • Actively seek out a free trial or live demonstration

Access to a vendor’s product, via a free trial or live demonstration, can make the difference between choosing vendor ‘A’ over vendor ‘B’. Usually, an online demo will be the first interaction you have with the product. It may also be accompanied by a salesperson who will walk you through the product, giving you a chance to ask any questions. This is then followed by a free trial, where you can test the product yourself and understand the system’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to your maintenance and management requirements.

    Top Tip: If you can’t find a free trial on the vendor’s site, get in touch with them directly. Most providers are more than willing to give prospects in the purchasing stage access to their system. Be wary of vendors that refuse to offer a demo or free trial of their product.

  • Consider all key areas of the product

    • Does it have a clear user interface that is easy to navigate for all facilities and maintenance personnel?

    • Are you able to identify the right maintenance and management features that you require when using the free trial?

    • Were you easily able to find and contact the vendor’s support team? If so, were you satisfied with their reply and response time?

    • Did they offer any training, video tutorials or web-based classes on how to use their product?

    • Have they had any prior experience providing software to other facility management businesses that are similar to yours, or in the same industry?

    • Do they meet the correct legal requirements to comply with GDPR law regarding occupant and other maintenance personnel data collection?

  • Cross-reference each product with your own management and maintenance requirements

    • Can the product provide the right features to improve the workflow and communication of facility processes throughout the organisation?

    • Does it offer the right reporting and analysis tools to accurately track and help reduce ongoing facilities, maintenance and equipment costs?

    • Will it provide you with a notification-style system that alerts you when a maintenance work order has been started, completed, or is overdue?

    • Can the system migrate all of your occupant, equipment and maintenance data and store it all into one accessible centralised database repository?

    • Can it be aligned with an asset management tool that works with IoT-enabled devices, such as GPS trackers and smart heating systems, to provide real-time data in order to prolong the usability of equipment?

    • Is it a web-based/cloud-based solution that allows all maintenance personnel to access specific data from anywhere, at any time, via a mobile device?

  • Enquire about prices, pricing plans, and hidden costs

    Lastly, and most importantly, ask each vendor about the price of their product. You’ll want to know their pricing plans and if there are extra fees for storage limits or implementation. Knowing the price is crucial for understanding the value of the product in relation to your goals and milestones; “is it worth it?”.

    Top Tip: To get a better idea of what each vendor can offer in terms of security, upgrades, and data compliance, contact each seller and ask them directly. If that doesn’t work, try getting in touch with some of their existing customers in the facilities management field.

5. Communicate your chosen facilities management software to your maintenance team and to the decision-makers to drive buy-in

After compiling your research, you’re now convinced that the implementation of a CAFM solution will enhance your facility processes. Now it’s time to convince the stakeholders.

  • Getting your facilities team on-board

    Whether it’s your maintenance, recruitment, or management team, they’ll all want to know how this new tool will affect their processes and responsibilities within the premises.

    Make sure you are able to answer their questions, such as:

    • Is it easy-to-use?

    • Will we need to be trained in the system and how long will training take?

    • If there is required training, will we be sent on a course or are we expected to study independently?

    • Should we be familiar with hardware and equipment that is included with the system, such as barcode scanners?

    • How will this tool directly benefit our facilities processes?

    • Will there be specific features for each team, such as schedules for cleaning and ground maintenance?

  • Convincing the decision-makers

    You’ve found the best facilities management software product that meets all of your requirements and you’ve got your team on board. Now it’s time to get approval from the decision-makers.

    Here’re some key points to keep in mind when making your case to an executive management team:

    • Refer to how this tool will aim to serve the company’s best interest

    • Include plenty of numbers and figures in your presentation, such as ROI calculations

    • Detail how, and if, existing maintenance and management platforms can still be utilised and integrated alongside the tool

    • Present a detailed plan and timescale for deployment and full integration

    • Highlight any risks that may appear during integration

6. Develop a detailed deployment and integration plan for your facilities management software tool with your team and vendor

Before you purchase your brand-new facilities management tool, it’s important that you are able to develop a detailed and realistic implementation plan with your chosen vendor.

Here’re a few key points you may want to consider when developing your plan:

  • Timescale of deployment

    Once you’ve purchased the tool, you may have a rough idea of the time it takes to meet your goals. But deploying the tool can be a lengthy process, so make sure to leave time for any challenges that you may face.

  • Being trained in the system

    Don’t expect your CAFM tool to automatically and instantly improve your facility processes without the right training. This requires time and money, so be sure to factor this into your plan.

  • Integration with other systems

    Consider the challenges when integrating the tool with other platforms such as email, calendars, data storage, and file-hosting. It may take even longer to integrate other applications as well, like building information modelling (BIM) and computer-aided design (CAD) systems.

  • Data migration

    You would have collected a huge amount of data regarding building space, maintenance work orders, and assets. This data will now need to be transferred into your new system, which can be a lengthy process. Whether you do it yourself, or your vendor offers help at an extra cost, you’ll need to consider the time it takes to complete this transition.

Top Tip: It’s important to know that you won’t see results straight away. You may only start to reap the benefits of your facilities management software once you’ve put in the work. Make sure the system is working in every aspect and its features are set up to your every need. The more time and work you put into using the system, the quicker you can start achieving your goals.

Experts Guides to Facilities Management Software

How to Reduce Building Maintenance Costs by Switching to a Reactive Maintenance Approach

Discover how a CAFM system coupled with preventive maintenance can help reduce the building maintenance costs that are impacting your bottom line.

5 Ways to Enhance Your Workspace Management with a CAFM Tool

See the 5 most effective ways to improving your building’s workspace management with the use of a Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) solution.

Why Companies Tap Into Facilities Management to be Successful

Discover why enterprises, small businesses and other organisations choose to use facilities management systems to enhance their operations.

Why Property Asset Management Software is Not Just About Managing Your Property

Find out how effective facility management in real estate and property businesses can benefit your overall property asset management.

A Complete Guide to Property Asset Management and its Many Benefits

Read our complete guide on property asset management and discover why the maintenance and upkeep of your buildings and facilities is crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions About Facilities Management Software

1. What market sectors can benefit from implementing a CAFM platform?

The implementation of a facilities management tool can benefit a number of different industries, particularly the hospitality and real taste market sector. Whether you’re looking to prolong equipment usage through better asset management, utilise your space management and planning, or improve building and ground maintenance; CAFM can be an effective tool.

For example, here’re four sectors (schools, healthcare, parks and recreation, and churches) that can benefit from the use of a facilities management platform:

  • Implementing Facilities Management Software in Schools

    Being budget conscious and having to meet the continuous demands of Ofsted, schools will benefit from using some form of a facilities management tool. Not only can a facilities solution maintain and manage the upkeep of school properties, but also the ground too. It’s a great way to identify minor concerns that can be rectified as well before they escalate into costly repairs and sufficient downtime of essential equipment. Other benefits include:

    • Adhering to building safety compliances and fire safety regulations and practices

    • Keeping external and internal buildings and grounds clean with outsourced cleaning services (either supplied by the school, district, or MAT)

    • Providing maintenance for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems

    • Planning for maintenance outside of school hours to avoid disruption to staff and students

    • Providing useful and accurate reports to help with planning and budgeting for future maintenance expenditures

  • Implementing Facilities Management Software in Hospitals and Healthcare

    The role of a facilities manager and their team within the healthcare industry is to keep non-clinical services running smoothly in order to help staff focus on delivering exceptional patient care. As well as ensuring hospitals meet standard requirements, a large part of facilities management in healthcare is cleaning. This is either from an outsourced group or a dedicated team of cleaning staff. Other important areas of facilities management in healthcare include:

    • Infection prevention through sterilised cleaning

    • Catering

    • Building maintenance

    • Security

    • Reception hosting

    • Car park management

    • Laundry management

    • Waste management (including chemical and medical waste)

  • Implementing Facilities Management Software in Parks and recreation

    Typically employed by councils and private investors in the UK, facility management tools are essentially required to provide ongoing maintenance to meet health and safety regulations. This provides facility managers to conduct maintenance plans, produce cost estimates, and maintain natural resources. All in a bid to enhance the lives of residents in the town, city, or community. Indoor and outdoor parks and recreation facilities can include:

    • Recreation areas

    • Sports fields and courts

    • Playgrounds

    • Dog parks

    • Communal swimming pools

    • Parking grounds

    • Local restrooms

    • Amphitheatres

  • Implementing Facilities Management Software in Churches

    In churches and other religious facilities, keeping maintenance costs to a minimum is vital. It’s also important to keep in mind that any management, maintenance or facilities team will be volunteers who are looking to give back to the ministry. There are a number of reasons why churches would need a facility management tool, including:

    • Effective cleaning volunteers to prepare churches for events such as weddings and Sunday service

    • Team and project management to align volunteers with the correct jobs

    • All-year-round landscape and ground maintenance

2. Can the right facilities management tool help to utilise my space management and planning?

Whatever your industry, type or size, effective space management and planning is key for a successful facilities management solution. As a facilities manager, not only are you expected to utilise the space within your built environment, but you also need to manage each physical space’s inventory. Including tracking, maintaining and carrying out maintenance when necessary.

Space management and planning should be a vital part of your facilities management software. It will allow you to attract and retain occupants, improve space efficiency, reduce vacant space, and save on operational costs.

Traditionally, there are three main components of space management planning. Of which, all three are most effectively achieved with a facilities management software tool. These are:

  1. Recording insightful space management data

    By recording space management data, with the help of IoT devices such as energy trackers, you’re able to have an overview of how space is utilised in each property. Two main sources of essential data are the usage of space and the operational costs for each physical space.

  2. Accessing and collecting real-time data

    By implementing a facility system that incorporates the usage of real-time data, you’re able to record accurate data of each of your physical spaces as it happens. This allows for quicker and more efficient move management, as well as accurate tracking to enhance space utilisation.

  3. Planning for effective space utilisation

    Most crucially, through the real-time and space management data your system has collected, you’re then able to efficiently utilise the space within your facility. Not only does this aim to reduce your operational costs, but by choosing to utilise the space you already have, it can also help to reduce the need for further capital investment.

3. I am a small business owner – is a facilities management tool necessary for me?

Although a facilities management software solution may seem more inclined to enterprises and larger companies, implementing CAFM in a small business should not be overlooked. It may seem like an unnecessary expenditure at first, but it can help save your business money in the long term. Some crucial benefits include:

  • Delegating duties to focus on business operations

    Whether you’re a small business of under 20 employees or under 5 employees, there’s a lot of work that needs to go into effectively managing and maintaining facilities. And, most of the time, all of these responsibilities fall to one or two people. But, with a CAFM tool, managers are able to delegate duties to other staff or outsourced teams. This produces an organised structure within the workplace and promotes a more coordinated effort to help the business grow.

  • Reducing downtime of business-critical assets

    Some facilities management solutions are coupled with an asset management tool, which is valuable for keeping business-critical assets working at an optimal level and avoiding unplanned downtime.

  • Storing all data regarding outsourced facilities management teams

    As most small businesses employee only a handful of staff, the need to outsource certain maintenance and management tasks is unavoidable. This can include anything from cleaning services and building maintenance, to waste management and catering. By having a facilities management tool, you’re able to store all data regarding tasks that have been outsourced. These include outsourced personnel details, maintenance schedules, and support channels.

Top tip: As you begin your search for a facilities management tool, look out for specific cloud based or web based Software-as-a-Service pricing plans. These usually consist of monthly payments and are favourable for a small business with a minimal budget and with room to scale.

4. Can my facility processes be tracked and managed on a mobile device with a cloud based solution?

When using a cloud based or web based facilities management solution, you’re able to access all facility data via a mobile device. This could be your smartphone, tablet, laptop or other specific hardware. The ability to do so grants you and other teams members access to data when on the move and in the field. This is particularly handy if you need instant access to the system but are not within a distance of your work desktop.

With a mobile solution, you can access data such as maintenance schedules, contact numbers of outsourced personnel, space utilisation, and energy-use statistics. Effectively giving you the ability to analyse information and make decisions straight from your pocket.

As well as being accessible from anywhere with a service signal, cloud based facility solutions can have many other benefits, too. Including:

  • Setting restricted permissions

    As not all staff and personnel need access to the same data, cloud based mobile solutions allow you to set what is accessible and what isn’t. For example, maintenance workers may need access to the building’s floor plans but not the financial documents that are intended for your accountant.

  • Disaster-proof security

    With an on-premise system, the possibility of a server crash or natural disaster such as flood or fire can severely damage your data. But, with a cloud based option, your data is routinely backed-up in real-time. This means when a technical issue does occur you have peace of mind knowing that your data is safe and accessible on all devices.

  • Accessible at all times

    The great thing about a cloud based system is that it is accessible all the time. By being always-on, it means data is cached and updated immediately. For example, if you make a change to a specific file but accidentally close the application, that change will be automatically saved and you can pick up where you left off.