Sick of polylining new floor plans or adding notes to spreadsheets every time you adjust the office seating chart? It’s likely time to invest in space planning software. Before you do, ask questions—not all platforms are the same. Take the time to come up with a few questions to ask before buying space planning software.

What should you ask? Some of the best questions are the most basic ones. Consider the biggest, most important questions you have and start there. Below are five simple questions that deserve answers before you proceed with a space management software investment.

1. How will you use the software?

The value of space planning software goes beyond any one single use. Instead, think about how you’ll use it collectively to better plan and execute the ideal workplace floor plan. Some topics to consider include:

  • Floor plan creation and optimization
  • Gathering real-time space utilization data
  • Custom dashboards and reporting for spaces
  • Planning and overseeing office moves
  • Macro real estate forecasting and planning

Probe these areas in some depth before you make any firm decisions about what you do or don’t need from your space planning software. Also, think to the future about features you may not currently need, but may come to need as your facilities evolve or scale on the back of better space management. How you plan to use the software is the biggest justification for your investment in it.

2. What capabilities do you need?

As you explore uses for space management software in your facilities, consider the capabilities that are most important to you. Beyond the basics like drag-and-drop floor plan tools, what do you need to allocate, organize, and optimize your space? Different programs (and even different tiers of programs) afford facility managers different tools that may dictate their experience with the platform.

Some of the most common (and beneficial) capabilities hinge on integrations. Linking up the company directory, for example, brings dynamic appeal to changing floor plans. Collaborative floor planning features can help simplify moves. Look at available features and pair them with your expectations to find software that meets your needs.

3. What processes will it displace?

Out with the old, in with a new space planning system. Ask yourself what current processes new software will make obsolete, as well as which processes it’ll automate, simplify, or otherwise improve. The goal is to take work off of a space manager’s plate, while improving the flexibility, agility, and cohesiveness of the workplace.

Draw direct links between features and benefits. Drag-and-drop floor plans eliminate polylining and spreadsheets. Space metrics and reporting absolve you of manual data tracking. Move management tools bring order to otherwise chaotic relocation phases. Take a close look at how, specifically, space management software will shore up your processes.

4. What opportunities does it unlock?

Chances are, you’ve made the decision to invest in space planning software because you want more from your facilities. Explore this idea deeper. What will space planning software allow you to do for your workplace that might not be practical or available at present? Some examples may include:

  • Explore hypothetical workspace layouts or desking concepts
  • Track space utilization metrics with accuracy
  • Develop a foundation for wayfinding and company directory
  • Improve workplace efficiency through optimization insights
  • Pave the way for a hoteling or reservation system

It comes down to a simple concept: what doesn’t your current workplace offer that it should? Identify opportunities for workplace improvement and look for space planning software that will help realize those objectives.

5. How will you define ROI?

Establish what return on investment (ROI) looks like in the context of your investment in space planning software. Do you have metrics to indicate improvement? Is there a dollar figure attached to your company’s top- or bottom-line growth? If so, how do you calculate it?

Space planning software affects so many facets of business operations because they’re tied to the workplace and employees’ interactions with it. Identify the concept of ROI in whatever form it takes before you invest in software to get a clear idea of what you’re getting for the cost of a license.

Build on these questions

Your answers to these questions will hinge on many factors—namely the size of your facilities, how you manage them, and how dynamic they are. A 12-person company with 2,000 square feet of office space won’t have the same demands as a 250-person company that operates eight floors. Stakeholders need to evaluate their situation in the context of a space planning software solution to see the value it offers them.

Start with these five questions and use them as a springboard for more. Can you explore new desking concepts? What metrics aren’t you tracking that you should be? Is it time to upgrade your office space? Good questions lead to a good investment in space planning software, which opens up a world of possibilities for workplace optimization and growth.

Keep reading: Space planning software buyers guide

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.