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Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it

‘Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it’. A quote that relates to the use of facility management software, but is particularly relevant for commercial facility management service providers considering developing a custom solution or buying a software system to meet all their specific requirements.

The service provider industry has very specific and extensive requirements for software. The system needs to include activity planning and dispatching, the use of mobile solutions for field services, health and safety compliance, subcontractor management, purchase management, customer contract monitoring and integration with financial systems for billing.

Too many options, or not enough?

Unfortunately, there few solutions out there that provide all this functionality. Many service providers are using an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), although these were originally designed for real estate owners and occupiers. Others have added custom functionality to their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, despite the fact that ERP solutions are primarily financial systems. In fact, organisations which have attempted to use and modify their ERP for facility management processes almost always find that employees end up creating ‘shadow systems’ (e.g. in Microsoft Excel) to address the missing capability needed for their day-to-day operations.

Some service providers decide to build something internally to serve their specific needs. By providing the organisation with a custom system, they allow each operation to retain its individual processes—which has its advantages. However, this also comes with a price in terms of IT resources: programmers, system administration, IT hardware and don’t forget the maintenance costs.

Of course, there is also Planon Universe for Service Providers, which is an integrated customer and contract centric software platform similar to an IWMS with all the functionality needed to meet the specific requirements of commercial service providers - including the benefits of rapid development time and outsourced application management. In other words, service providers can use an existing wheel and spin it according to the needs in their organisation.

Three factors in your decision

Determining your long-term business goals and deciding on your ideal level of financial and time-based costs are two important starting points. But you may also want to consider:

  1. What is the cost of workarounds to compensate for missing functionality in your current solution?
  2. What is the potential impact on your customers’ satisfaction?
  3. What is the potential impact on your employee satisfaction and the risk of them creating ‘shadow systems?’

Outsourcing activities that are not a company’s core business often works out cheaper, more efficient, and results in a better quality than managing in-house. Why shouldn’t that apply to FM software as well? Specific facility management software for service providers can make a difference here. Our solution, Planon Universe for Service Providers is an integrated enterprise platform which supports the operational processes within the customer lifecycle. This future-proof platform creates operating efficiency, increases customer value, and enables business innovation with a contract centric approach. This approach helps in meeting customer expectations.

Are you interested in learning more about the role of data and outsourcing in the service provider market? Planon has conducted a European market research study on this topic. Watch our videos to find out more.

Martijn Dam is Product Marketer at Planon

Martijn Dam

Solution Services Specialist

Martijn has held various positions in the international facility management software industry since 2003. In his role as Solution Services Specialist at Planon, he is subject matter expert in digitalising commercial FM processes.

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