Choosing a Space Management Software
Coworking management software have evolved tremendously over the past seven years. As many more options have been made available, it has been increasingly difficult to select the right one for your space. In my experience of operating a space and working as a consultant, there are are four key points to pay attention to when you make your selection:
1. Find Out How Long the Software Has Been Around
As newer and seemingly better software platforms emerge, the opportunity to hop on to all the latest developments can be very alluring. However, newer platforms also bring along challenges of their own as they continue to improve, fix bugs and and develop their systems over time. Time-tested software often bring the best rewards and value to your space.
2. Evaluate User Reviews
After doing years of software research, the best way to learn about different software fast is to either search online for reviews or gather feedback from space managers and users. Functionality is often best known from coworking space members and managers who interact with the product daily. Space operators who already have feedback from the rest of the space are good people to approach to find out more about a product too.
3. Ensure Scalability of Your Software
You want to be able to use the same software for your location as the number of members in your space increases. One oversight coworking operators have is that they do not consider the scalability of their software. When one location becomes two and more, you want your software to be flexible enough, allowing fluidity between members traveling from one location to the other. For example, you would want the same access control system to be used throughout all locations so one manager can control all of it at once.
4. A Good Dashboard Overview
A solid member login page is a critical part to a space management platform. This portion of the software should not be overlooked. A member log in should be a place where your members can see their invoice history, book conference rooms, see upcoming events, add additional product available, and even connect with other members through a chat board or directory. The more concise and functional, the better. Always try a free trial or request for a demo before you commit to a service.
While this list is a great place to start, there is more to choosing your space management software. In today’s market, you can easily find one platform that integrates with your door access, manages Wi-fi connections, handles conference room bookings, auto-billing, newsletters, and your CRM. Narrowing it down to the right one suited to your needs, however, takes time, research, and a good knowledge of software operations.
To help facilitate this process, I recommend a couple of free resources you can start looking at:
General resource: Coworking Resources
Spreadsheet of software available: List
Groups/forum: Coworking Google Forum
Or, hire a consultant with software expertise!
Finding One, Good Software is Tough
In my experience of searching for a management software solution, I have gone through the excitement of thinking a platform is awesome, then realizing over time that it is not going to work.
Running a space is a lot of commitment and effort. Dedicating time to do trials and sitting through the demos of different platforms can also cause a lot of frustration. This is why I think choosing a platform and then actually implementing it is not for the faint hearted.
If you don’t have someone who can dedicate their time to learn it all and work with the company to roll it out, this will be a process that you’ll need to set a good portion of time to as well. All in all, you have potentially spent 2-3 months on research, demos, and then trial to make a choice. Next you have the migration and implementation time period, 4-6 weeks depending on what you are migrating from.
As a owner or space manager this is a big decision for your location as your members experience is also tied to the platform you choose. As an alternative, you can hire a consultant that can help you navigate the choices and bring your space into operation with the software you choose.
This article is written by Coworking expert, Jana Greer. Jana's experience as a Community Coordinator and Technical Support Lead for the coworking Franchise Venture X has led her to start Colliding Clouds. She consults with coworking spaces at all stages of growth and development, to help them with operations, software, and support.