Choosing coworking software can be tricky.
The truth is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The right fit for your workspace depends on your business, your processes, and your objectives.
The right software will save you plenty of time, effort, and resources. The wrong one can make your life even harder.
That’s why it’s essential to spend some time on preparation and evaluation.
Below, you’ll find our learnings from working with hundreds of workspaces and industry experts worldwide. We hope that this resource will help you set your business objectives more efficiently and select the best management software for your workspace.
The coworking software evaluation starts with identifying how your business is making money, and what your essential processes and needs are. This knowledge will help you understand the functionalities that are crucial for your business. Coworking software solutions offer plenty of features and sometimes you might get lost, especially if you are new to this.
So take the time to understand (and maybe rethink) in detail your target customer, your revenue streams, and how you charge for your services.
Are you targeting freelancers, subject matter experts (SMEs), startups, enterprise remote office locations, non-profits, students, etc? Next, think about where these people work now, or look at your current members and ask where did they work previous to coming to your space? Furthermore, how do they work?
It’s important to consider these factors in software evaluation because some people would need 24/7 remote access while others would appreciate more of a great community app that helps them connect with other coworkers throughout the workday.
Are they private offices, open coworking areas, meeting space, events, or additional services such as catering, retail goods, or virtual mail? Being clear and thorough about your revenue stream sources will identify the requirements for the functionalities of the software you need so it can cover all of your business needs.
Do you charge on a monthly basis, per day, per hour, as a one-off fee, etc? More than likely, you charge members in multiple ways, so identify all of your payment terms.
And then think about how you collect the money now, and how would you like to collect it going forward? Do you have any country or business-specific payment procedures? Having a good understanding of these terms will be key to evaluating software that works for your business.
Consider your current or future competitive advantages. How can the software help you be better than your competition? What can you do to enhance your member experience? Can you introduce a mobile app? Can you automate check-ins or bookings for more seamless experiences?
Technology is used to increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of a business. So you’d really like to understand your current performance first.
What are the tasks you spend most of your time on?
Which are the processes that run smoothly, and which are the ones that make you struggle?
How many of these processes rank with high business priority?
Which of the tasks are repetitive and can be automated?
Take the time to reflect on these and similar questions. You can also write them down and assign points for current efficiency, effort, frequency, and priority, for example. This will help you get the big picture, and understand where you need to improve.
Your objectives in the search of a coworking management software are basically based on:
Define your goals and what exactly you want to achieve with the software. The answer will help you identify the functionalities you should be looking for.
Let’s say you want to improve your billing process. Then look for software that has seamless integration with the payment gateways and the accounting software you are using.
Some of the reasons to buy a coworking software might be to:
Don’t miss to consider the needs of your community. Have your members asked for anything in particular that you think you might be able to deliver with software?
Some of the questions to ask yourself are:
If you’re not a solo show, think about all the people in your team whose work will be affected by the adoption of the software. How many people and what teams will be using the software? Who are the key decision-makers in the different process divisions such as billing, meeting room bookings, community management, events, etc?
Each stakeholder might have specific requirements for the software.
For example, your finance manager/accountant/bookkeeper/controller might require a particular payment integration or feature based on their bookkeeping.
Ask all people that will be using the software to write down their function requests and requirements, and to prioritize them.
Be clear about to what extent stakeholders have influence over the final decision.
Are they just being informed about the process of buying and implementing software or are they decision-makers? This will allow you to outline how their opinion would influence the final decision.
If you’re running a multi-location business with a larger team, we would even recommend building a responsibility assignment matrix, also known as a RACI matrix.
It should list all stakeholders along with every stage of the software evaluation and adoption, and it should distribute the four key responsibilities in the project: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.
This matrix will later become an important asset during your onboarding process.
Identify how much you’re willing to spend and to what extent you can make compromises with the price and value of the product. In most cases, you’ll need to jump on a demo call to learn how much the software will cost you.
Keep in mind that the new software is likely going to improve process and efficiency. As a result, you will likely be able to scale through new revenues, more time for member experience, reducing lost revenue capture, and more.
As with any process that requires time and effort on top of the usual day-to-day activities, there’s a chance this might stay forever on your To-Do list because of other priorities popping up.
However, when the implementation of coworking management software becomes critical for the success of your business, you need to prioritize this as a task. Postponing the decision for too long might ultimately affect your business in a negative way and will definitely lead to a more complex implementation.
However, talking to all vendors and seeing all the products in action will most likely be overwhelming and might create a huge mess in your head.
Try to make initial research on your own by using the information on the vendors’ websites or product listing platforms like Capterra. Validate if the software solves your current problems and if it supports your long-term vision.
Also, check what integration the software supports. You’d like to check the payment and accounting integrations, as well as any other coworking apps you use such as door access system, WiFi, marketing CRM, etc.
Have in mind that it’s easy to get caught up in the variety of features that the solutions on the market offer. Taking the time to reflect on your goals will help you sort through the clutter.
Based on that, shortlist your best choices and book a 1:1 with them only.
Your aim here is to validate if and how the product solves your problems and if it’s worth the investment.
During the demo, go into details about your most common tasks. Ask to be shown how the features described on the vendor’s website actually work.
Also, try to see if your most unusual tasks, or the ones you make most exceptions with, can be solved. Don’t forget to ask for the software implementation. How long does it take? Is there a dedicated onboarding specialist who will help you? What are the training opportunities for you and future members of your team?
Don’t miss to ask about the total price of the management platform! During a demo call or immediately after that, you’ll receive a price quote. This will allow you to clearly understand if the product will be a good investment.
Don’t miss to take into consideration the total cost for the subscription period, additional charges, implementation time, and efforts, the total cost of ownership.
Take advantage of the trial version of the management platform.
If you’re not feeling confident in tech, it would be better to have some explanation first (book a demo call) and start a trial right after that (so you don’t forget the things that were shown to you during the demo).
If you’re tech-savvy and/or you have specific tasks you want to check, you might consider starting a trial first, writing down particular questions, and asking them on a Demo call later on.
There are 2 main coworking management software pricing models – per member and per location. Depending on your needs, one of them would be a better fit for you.
Per-member pricing allows flexibility based on your occupancy and would be a better option for you if you’re just starting your business. Another case in which this would be the better option is if you’re still not maintaining stable occupancy levels and every desk makes a huge difference to your revenue.
Per location pricing, on the other hand, allows precise cost planning and budgeting by having a fixed cost with no limitation on the size of your community. This pricing model would be the better option for you if you are a well-established space that prefers annual contracts and easier and predictable budgeting.
When evaluating the pricing, consider all add-ons and extra charges. The total price you’ll be paying as a customer could often be different from what you see in the pricing calculators or plans stated on the vendor’s website. To get a realistic idea of what you’ll be paying as a customer, make sure to check if the vendor applies any additional charges for
Depending on the complexity and the size of your business, the onboarding time with a coworking software can take between 1 and 6 months. In most cases, the implementation duration depends on your involvement. The more time you dedicate, the faster it will be.
If you have specific timelines in which the software should be introduced to your team and your community, make sure to choose coworking software vendor that also provides a dedicated onboarding service.
The onboarding specialists will be your partners and they can help you meet deadlines and better organize your team and efforts when you start configuring and using the software.
Make sure to also discuss with the vendor what training opportunities they provide for your current team and for future additions to your team.
Remember that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all software solution. The best fit for your workspace depends on your business, your processes, and your objectives.
So first, identify your needs. Then, dive deep into your processes and get a clear vision of your priorities. Identify all stakeholders and decision-makers in the evaluation process and plan your time and resources.
Once you’ve gone through these steps, you can go and explore the options on the market. When evaluating the possible solutions, judge based on your objectives.
Consider features, pricing options, and additional services. See a live demo of the product and test it yourself before you make the final decision. Don’t miss exploring the vendor as a company – e.g. level of expertise, security, and development.
We hope this article was useful. We’d also love to show you what the OfficeRnD coworking software can do for your business. If we’ve got you interested, feel free to book a demo and we’ll show you around the product.
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