6 Questions to Ask About Data When Evaluating FM Software Solution
Getting data-driven insights from Facilities Management Software solutions is critical for your success. Asking the right questions when evaluating your provider’s approach can assure you get the right solution.
Data driven insights from facilities management software is much of what delivers the value, cost-containment opportunities, and efficiencies of facilities management software. Data is the new currency for efficient and effective business management, no doubt. But not all data is created equally, and more data is not necessarily a good thing all of the time. Furthermore, the business model and the underlying capabilities of a given facilities management software solution provider can influence the overall value you can incur from the software without incurring incremental costs – direct or hidden.
Six important questions to ask when considering value of data-driven insights from facilities management software solutions
The right effective facilities management software solution can yield significant benefits to the business as a platform for capturing, managing, and gaining insights from many data points. Following are ten questions you will want to ask when evaluating data features that will support your business for day to day execution, decision support, and planning.
1. Who owns your data?
While you may assume this question is obviously answered with “you own it.” Don’t assume as much. Data is increasingly becoming a currency. Some providers actually capture and monetize your data for themselves in various ways – some with and some without your knowledge. For example, some vendors utilize your data for benchmarking and share the benchmarks with you and your peers and competitors. Benchmarks can help analyze performance, but it is best to understand if and how your data might be used or shared with others – even if anonymized.
2. What is your solution provider’s business model with respect to your data?
While there is no “right” or “wrong” business model, it is best for you, as an evaluator of a solution, to understand the model’s transparency. The software provider’s underlying motivations with each of the options available to you should be fully transparent. For example, if the solutions provider offers to make it easy for you to find services providers on their platform as part of their solution, it is important to understand:
- How the software provider themselves may benefit financially from the recommended arrangement, and
- If the promised savings from the arrangement are guaranteed or just suggested, and
- Finally, if the arrangement creates hidden costs to those providers that are ultimately passed on to you.
3. What is available beyond the “dashboard” to get to meaning and contextual insights?
In a recent report on the Top Trends for Data and Analytics published by Gartner, they shared that the amount of time users spend using predefined dashboards will continue to decline in favor of a shift to in-context data available to individual users in real-time based on their role or use. This is an industry-wide trend concerning data and analytics, especially relevant to facilities management and maintenance work.
When issues and work orders are being managed in real-time, the context needed to get your job done is vastly different if you are a store operations manager keen on maintaining trust in the brand through excellent store cleanliness or a district facilities management professional responsible for a fleet of locations, an accounting analyst responsible for managing vendor invoice compliance, or an engineering operations manager in charge of high dollar revenue-generating asset health. Some of the factors that can apply include relevant data presentation, role-based permissions for accessing data and features, easily accessible and timely reporting, and ease of use features for navigating data in real-time to address or solve an issue or question.
4. How is access to data for analysis and planning provided?
There is a lot of talk for good reason about the importance. of data when it comes to extracting real business value from software. Your data should be available to you so that you can leverage it for planning and decision support around continuous operational improvements. Ideally, access to your data should be as self-serving as possible and not be burdened by lengthy and expensive professional services fees. Be sure to understand in advance what your provider will charge you for with respect to unique reporting requirements. Also, get a clear answer on how their system and the database architecture will effectively give you insights you know you want to measure and monitor with varying degrees of frequency.
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5. How is the data organized “under the hood” in support of smart cost-saving automation?
Predictive analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and more are no longer buzz words for the future. However, at the foundation of applying any of these advanced capabilities is a sound database architecture built to understand future applications. Saving time is one of the most effective ways to save money and reap benefits from a facilities management software solution. Smart automation that relies on underlying business logic to “make decisions” for workflow next steps, compliance checklists, and more are possible when your data is captured and incorporated into the database in ways that make it accessible as variables for business logic.
When evaluating software solutions, find out how flexible and adaptable workflow options are for you. If you find that the answer is a “best practice” workflow as the only available option, ask yourself if you need to track or execute things differently as part of your unique business and market value proposition. Find out if you can apply your own business logic and rules for things like vendor invoice compliance with unique and relevant metrics and processes by trade, by location type, by combining factors such as urgency, trade type, and the location at once. If the answer is yes, there is likely a more robust database architecture in place to support this type of automated decision support for workflow.
6. Is the solution easily integrated to meet the needs of your business?
As companies increase their dependence on data as a key decision support tool, integration with other systems will be very important. A solution that supports a robust set of API interfaces to various systems – accounting systems, asset database systems, engineering and planning systems, etc. is important. A solution’s underlying design that incorporates an understanding of the facilities management process end-to-end makes it easier to connect with and integrate key data elements in real-time between adjacent systems.
Data is a critical element of any effective facilities management software solution. Asking the right questions when considering your options can result in a clear view of any tradeoffs you are making concerning your decision support and planning requirements today or in the future. The answers will also better predict what you can expect to realize in the form of cost-savings and insights for continuously improving your facilities management outcomes.
Fexa’s Approach to Your Data and Data Features
You Own Your Data.
At Fexa, we believe that you own your data. We never share or monetize your data in any way. We have built a system that focuses on capturing and enabling access to relevant data to meet your needs and support you in finding ways to leverage that data for insights for your business.
No Transaction Fees Per WO to Your Providers.
Fexa focuses on building and supporting you with a purpose-built platform for facilities management and maintenance. We do not charge transaction fees to your facilities services providers that get buried into costs and passed on to you. We do not charge providers to be part of a “preferred” vendor network, yet another way for increasing costs to the vendors that will ultimately show up in costs to retailers. We focus on developing and supporting a solution that provides the best platform for achieving your business outcomes – getting good work done, on-time, on-budget, and effectively.
Rich Contextual Data Insights Incorporated Into the Platform.
Fexa provides basic dashboards but also puts substantial emphasis on our design for ease-of-use by role and permissions. For example, a district-level facilities management professional may have access to all work orders, proposals, and invoices related to just the stores in their district. Rich role-based permissions and list/grid views – designed to make work and data easy to find based on contextual care-abouts are loved by store owners who use Fexa. Other navigation features such as sophisticated search and views by grids and lists can provide insights through sorting by multiple variables. – based on the context to reach critical need-to-know information easily.
Smart Means Your Data Works For You All of the Time.
Smart automation is really the secret sauce of the Fexa solution. Our smart automation is built on a data foundation that gives you easy access to your data as inputs to business logic. This logic can inform smart automation and improve your facilities’ workflow efficiency and compliance. Our solution is so robust we are often surprised at the innovative ways our customers apply it to produce differentiated business outcomes. One example is the clever use of custom fields, custom workflows, and custom programs applied to asset management based on the asset class. This level of customization is built on business logic and rules that vary widely from class to class of assets – giving the customer the ability to manage costly assets in ways that minimize downtime (as that would reduce revenue potential) and extend the life of those assets while managing more expendable assets with more simplified processes.