Searching for the right software vendor may seem daunting as they promise a variety of features, best prices, and service guarantees. But with your primary needs in hand, you’ll be able to easily cut through the clutter to find the right product. If you haven’t read Part 1: Achieve 50% of your research in 4 easy steps…without talking to a sales guy, click here to discover the importance of a needs assessment. From there, read on for a list of common questions that buyers often ask themselves when searching. Just to be helpful we’ve added answers too!
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Q1: How many software vendors should I compare?
A1: We recommend that you compare and contrast 3 to 4 vendors. If you look at too many you’ll risk getting confused with the company names and features. You may even experience buyers-burn out, either turning you off maintenance software completely or- in a moment of weakness- making the wrong decision. If you compare too few vendors, you run the risk of missing out on options that may have fit your organization better or that offer better value.
Q2: What is the best approach to finding maintenance software vendors?
A2: One of the most convenient ways to find a software vendor is to visit software comparison websites that specialize in matching buyer needs with software providers. Sites such as Software Advice and Capterra are excellent resources for buyers to shop for free. Simply search the kind of software you’re looking for and indicate your key requirements. The service will then match you up with vendors who meet that description. You only need to fill out one simple form and hit submit, the vendors will do the rest. From there, vendor reps will contact you with company info and to setup a demo at a time of your choosing! Those sites also list vendor ratings, client reviews, vendor profiles, and maintenance management content. It’s a one-stop shop for convenient software shopping online.
Q3: What should I expect when I’m going into my software demos?
A3: Software demos (or live virtual walk-throughs of the software) are the best way to become acquainted with the look and feel of a particular product. Intro demos are usually around 30 min to 1 hour, taking you through a broad overview of the product. Make sure you go into every demo with key objectives or goals that you want to get out of the software. Do you remember that needs assessment you did? This is where you can put it into action! Have your needs ready and come prepared with a critical lens on the product you’re viewing. Don’t compromise on key software features that are a must for your company. Knowing what you want before you go into a demo will help to weed out pushy sales people and lack luster software. Keep in mind that simplicity is best. Opt for a system that feels the most simple to use and easy to navigate. If you’re confused in the demo chances are your other team members will be too. Ask as many questions as possible and don’t feel foolish if you need to schedule another demo to go over additional features or more in-depth items.
At the same time, take advantage of this shopping experience. While many vendors have similar features, some stand out with unique modules and a fresh take on functionality. Evaluate if these features such as interactive floor plans, bar coding abilities, or space management modules would benefit your organization.
Q4: Do you have any advice on pricing expectations?
A4: Software systems have a wide range in price point with many different factors to consider. In web based models, we’ve seen single user licenses run as low as $25/mo to as high as $200/mo. Often you are required to pay annual subscription fees upfront with the list price usually stated as a monthly fee to make it seem lower. The license fee renews annually. The license fee includes the cost of using the system and whatever features are included in that package level. The pricing structure can vary between vendors. Primary factors that affect the software license cost are:
- Number of users- Many solutions price per user, per month. Know how many people in your organization will need to use the system (all vendors will ask you this in order to give you a proper quote anyways). Know how many users AND how many requesters you will require. Pricing usually allows more requesters to access a system on one license than users. Some companies offer unlimited user licenses, which are much more cost efficient if you have 3+ users that need access to the software.
- Number of facilities- The number of buildings and facilities in your maintenance operations is very important in most price quotes. This is because more buildings will increase the number of assets that the software tracks, the amount of data to input, and the number of people to train. Some vendors may also ask the general size of your facility to help them understand the amount of assets that will be tracked. As a general rule of thumb, a 20,000 sq/ft building contains between $900K- $1.2M worth of assets. Some pricing schemes are based on the number of facilities in your organization and will increase by nominal amounts as you add buildings.
- Size of your maintenance department- This factor is similar to the amount of users in your system. Vendors may ask how many people are in your department in order to get a better gauge on how many people require access to mobile or other features that primarily apply to your maintenance department. This also gives vendors a better sense of how many people will need to be trained on specific topics.
In addition to your license fee, setup and training fees should also be factored into your budget as these costs are often above and beyond. For better budgetary planning, speak with your team to determine setup timelines and the roles and responsibilities of setup. You will learn more about implementation in Part 3, however understanding the advantages and disadvantages of full and partial setup is a crucial step towards meeting timeline expectations.
Q5: How long can I expect this process to take?
A5: The entire process usually takes between 3 to 6 weeks. Often vendors want you to see their product as soon as possible because they know you’re viewing several other competitors. You’ll want to have vendors fresh in your mind when you are deciding on which ones to follow up with. Take a week or two to run through the initial three to four vendors that you’re searching. After the first demo with each vendor, narrow the choice down to two options. Request one or two more demos with each to get into more detailed analysis of the software. Most vendors have free trials that you can use to get more familiar with the software on your own. Take this time get feedback from your team and make sure that all technical skill levels are somewhat comfortable with the software. Once you have played around for a while you may want to have another round of discussions with your vendor rep to ask questions that you’ve come up with during the trial or to get other stakeholders in on the conversation. At this point, your organization should have a clear understanding of each vendor product and will be able to make a thoughtful buying decision.
We’ve consolidated our awesome CMMS software Basics and Beyond Guide for your downloading pleasure here! Don’t want to read through the entire blog series? Then get it now.