How do CAFM software vendors structure their pricing? And what can you expect for your money?
Many CAFM vendors will offer different tiers of service depending on the size of your business and the features and support you will want access to.
Tiered access reflects different user needs
An ‘entry level’ package may give you access to software with a limited number of licenses for your team and a restricted feature set. The vendor may offer you some basic support with configuration and hands-off account management, but other than that you may be left on your own to manage your solution. Until your contract comes up for renewal, that is.
At the upper end of the scale are feature-rich products that require a lot more configuration and integration to get working. To make the most of their complex functionality you will likely need considerable training and ongoing support (which may or may not be part of a monthly license fee).
Hidden charges can quickly inflate prices
As with most SaaS (Software as a Service) products, hidden charges can often make deals that sound reasonable escalate quickly in price. And these extra fees can sometimes include elements you might expect to come as standard, including reporting, upgrades, training and account management.
Understanding the cost structures upfront and what level of support comes as part of the deal, will prevent any misunderstandings further down the line - and help you compare pricing between vendors more accurately.
CAFM system pricing - how much and what’s included?
Set up costs
Setup fees can vary depending upon:
- Estate complexity - for example, a university campus is likely to be much more complicated than a large estate of retail units
- Configuration requirements - for example, configuring multiple workflows, automation requirements or multiple dashboards to ensure high participation rates
- Migration requirements - for example, an estate with a large asset register or asset-lead planned maintenance requirement could mean there is a lot of cleansing and importing to do
- Integration requirements - for example, hooking up accounting platforms to keep invoicing in sync or a BMS system for triggered based work order creation
Setup costs can start at just a few hundred pounds for a small, simple estate without complexity or any integration requirements. On the other hand, the most complex CAFM projects can cost you tens of thousands of pounds.
But these upfront fees should include the following as a minimum:
- System setup support
- Data migration
And you should consider
- Will this include discovery workshops to ensure all requirements are explored and answered?
- How many training sessions will your set up include?
- How long will you have access to your vendors’ project/mobilisation team?
- How much will it cost to integrate with 3rd party software?
This very much depends upon how many licenses you require. Be wary of user based licenses that can sometimes prohibit usage and tempt you to share logins across multiple users. This can have a detrimental effect on auditing and security. Instead, see if the vendor offers or can agree to a site-based license which is more controllable and will change less frequently. This will encourage more usage across your team, rather than discouraging it.
Your license should include:
- Logins for all your users
- A defined account management package
- Platform updates and bug fixes
You should also check:
- Will you be charged for external users including contractors and engineers?
- What happens when your estate, supply chain and hence, your license requirement changes?
- If you’re going to be limited to the number of users, properties or contractors you can create as your needs grow.
- Exactly what modules will be part of your package and what will be the cost of adding new ones?
- Does the monthly fee include access to self-serve reporting tools?
- What are the costs for additional users?
- Does your package include data storage? If not, is this a tiered pricing model?
What level of support comes as standard with your package? Will you have access to a dedicated account manager? Will you have phone as well as email support? Using a larger, market leading solution, smaller businesses can risk being neglected and accruing additional charges for support that they may consider a basic requirement.
At a minimum, your account management package should include
- 24/7 critical support
- A defined amount of hours per month
- Access for general support, consultancy, guidance and training
While there are other considerations you should bear in mind:
- Do unused hours roll over?
- Are there additional charges when support is exceeded?
- What are the service level agreements for requests?
- How long is the support contract?
- Are there additional tiers or levels of support available when you need extra help?
Additional Support or Professional Services
There are some times when the standard support package offered will simply not be enough. When you’re swamped with work and need a partner to take some of the configuration and data management burden from you. Alternatively, you may need integration or bespoke back end engineering to answer your unique challenges.
Understanding what charges you may incur in these cases will insulate you against potential shocks.
Your provider should be able to support you with:
- Options for a retained agreement or a one-off time block purchase
- Bespoke projects driven by your changing needs
- Help when required with bespoke reporting, data management and integration
But you need to understand:
- How long will you be locked into these arrangements?
- Are day rates cheaper for longer term commitments?
- If you purchase blocks of time, is the day rate cheaper the more time you purchase?
Different FM teams are at different stages of their digital transformations. Facilities Managers set key milestones, close them down over time and continually create ambitious new goals.
In order to ensure you can meet these changing objectives, it’s crucial to ensure support is available to navigate your way confidently, productively and in a scalable way.
In order to grasp the full capabilities of a CAFM solution and rapidly realise a return on your investment, choose a partner not only with a great product, but people you can work with and act as an extension to your team.
You should be confident that the money you are spending on a solution will include access to those people and their skills in a way that is reasonable and sustainable.
In other words, don’t sign up for Software as a Service but “Software WITH a service”.