ARC’s 2018 Industry Research set out to find out why some facilities teams purchase and use technology far more successfully than others.
The research showed several distinct similarities in the way the most successful buyers evaluated technology. And, interestingly, what the successful tech buyers did do was just as telling as what they didn’t do.
So in this article, to better inform each stage of your next technology purchase, we’ll outline both the do’s and don’ts of a successful tech purchase.
Stage 1: Identifying the Problem
In facilities management – like anywhere else in the business world – there is no shortage of problems, which is what makes identifying the right problem to solve so critical. Choosing the right problem to solve influences how easy (or hard) it will be to win the budget your team needs to put a solution in place.
In our industry research, the best tech buyers tended to purchase technology that provided one of the following benefits:
- Improved customer service
- Reduced costs
- A more productive team
Choosing tech that offers these benefits makes it easier to gain approval because better customer service, cost reduction, and improved productivity are benefits that executives see value in. So ask yourself, what problems are causing the quality of customer service to suffer? What problems are preventing the facilities department from being as cost-effective and productive as possible?
If you can identify these problems and focus on finding tech solutions that solve them, the data shows you have a better chance of getting your purchase approved.
DO: Focus on solving problems that will improve customer service, reduce costs, or make the team more productive.
DON’T: Start researching products without one of the benefits mentioned above in mind. Benefits drive prioritization.
Stage 2: Researching a Solution
By narrowing your problem down to issues that affect customer service, costs, and productivity, you start the research phase with less work to do. Still, there are plenty of products that supposedly solve these problems, so you’ll have a lot to sort through.
That said, there’s more you can do to narrow your search and improve your chances of success. The research showed that the most successful tech buyers prioritized the following features:
- Ease of use
- Mobile app availability
The research showed facilities teams could complete up to 30% more work orders with improved document searchability. So it should come as no surprise that searchability is a priority for the best tech buyers. And of course, since facilities teams don’t exactly sit behind a desk all day, their technology needs to be available on a mobile device and easy to use.
DO: Prioritize technology that is easy to use, provides searchability, and has a mobile app.
DON’T: Waste time on products that lack a mobile app or are difficult to use.
Stage 3: Alternative Evaluation
With a short list of potential solutions in hand, it’s time for the heaviest lift of the purchasing process. At this point, the data is clear that the most successful tech buyers do each of the following:
- Get references for the technology vendor.
- Involve IT and the budget approver in the product evaluation.
- Demo or pilot the product.
- Evaluate customer support.
As you can see, the best tech buyers don’t mess around when it comes time to do their due diligence on a product evaluation. Not only do they get references, but they loop in other departments, get their hands on the product, and assess what level of customer support they can expect.
All this might sound time-consuming, but the time you spend on due diligence will come back many times over when you’re able to properly evaluate, purchase, and implement facilities technology.
DO: Your due diligence before purchasing technology. Try the product and talk to customers of the company you’re purchasing from.
DON’T: Take shortcuts by not involving the IT, budget approvers, or other relevant departments early in the product evaluation.
Setting the Facilities Team Up for a Successful Tech Purchase
Ultimately, transforming your team’s ability to purchase facilities technology is about consistently doing a lot of little things the right way. The best tech buyers aren’t reinventing the wheel.
They’re using benefits to drive prioritization, filtering products based on key features, and doing their due diligence on the vendors they partner with. While you can’t always control the outcome of the tech buying process, following the do’s and don’ts outlined above will set you up to have the best chance of success.
For more information, the industry research we drew upon for this article is available in the free ebook, Facilities Technology Trends & Buying Best Practices.