How to Choose the Best Software to Manage Your Coworking Space
If you are a coworking space owner in search of the best management software for your hub, you are at the right place. We understand that it's not easy to choose the right solution for your business especially if you are not a tech geek. There are so many options in the market... Some coworking space management software promises full paperwork automation, another prioritizes member experience. Let's figure out which approach is right for you.
- Coworking Space Software for Members or Managers
- Features VS Solutions
- Custom VS Professional Tools
- Too Many Features = Unwanted Noise
- andcards VS Cobot, Officernd, Nexudus, & other Coworking Management Software
- Which Coworking Space Management Software Is Best for You
First of all, you need to decide who you are choosing a software solution for.
The most fundamental difference between all market players is who they develop software for.
- Most of the coworking space management platforms are designed for administrators. Their main users are community managers, sales representatives, accountants, and other workspace employees.
The developers of workspace management systems target an elusive goal. They seek to consolidate all aspects of your business into a single management platform. Ideally, the technology should save the management team's time by automating routine tasks such as invoice issuance and payments, customer relationship management, and more.
Sometimes such management software even provides mobile apps for members as a by-product but they can hardly impress your members.
- Another type of coworking space software is created to help a shared workspace keep its focus on tenants. It puts your customers on top of it all. First and foremost this type of technology prioritizes user experience. Its main goal is to pack all workspace services (meeting rooms, desks, community, support, perks, etc.) into an easily accessible application where tenants can easily discover them and obtain anything they need.
Author's Note: It's a kind of utopia to think that coworking management software will free you from all administration tasks through total automation. You won't just sit and relax as you are supposed to manage this "automation" and continue to control all the processes.
However, if you provide customers with a self-service platform, it is the best possible automation for a flexible workspace. Since members book their desks and pay for all services they use themselves, you don't have to administer all these processes manually.
The next step is to figure out what particular problems are you trying to solve for your flexible workspace.
What are you looking at when going to buy some software? You probably click the Features tab on the vendor's landing page first of all. The more features you see there, the more awesome a product seems. But does a solid pack of features guarantee you the same solid pack of solutions to your problems? Unfortunately not.
Let me clarify this.
A feature does not equal a solution. But a well-executed product that solves a real problem is a solution.
A product having a ton of features without a clear focus is a flop. Most of the time you need to throw out most of these features to make a better solution, which is a Pareto principle (80/20 rule) at work.
Most coworking space management software is marketed as "all-in-one." This is not actually a differentiation point as almost any coworking technology is kind of inclusive. Every vendor offers a bunch of administrative tools to automate management processes. The difference is in the approach to critical workspace problems.
After reading the previous paragraph you probably realized that selling features is the wrong mindset. Customers don't want to buy features, they want solutions to their problems and unique needs. So, if a vendor really wants to make a customer happy, they must forget about features.
To take away: when choosing a management platform for your workspace you need to ask "Is it a solution to my problem?" Let me cite a couple of examples of solutions over the features approach.
Here are a couple of examples to deeper understand solutions over the features approach.
At the time of the iPhone introduction, it didn't have an SD card, stylus, hardware keyboard — features that everyone thought are essential. Feature-by-feature comparison of iPhone to Windows Mobile or Blackberry is lost by iPhone. But iPhone focused on what matters most: user experience, which brought the gadget overwhelming popularity.
Twitter is another example. As a social network, it's very barebone. Until even now, Twitter doesn't allow editing tweets, has character limits. Head-to-head to Facebook, it loses functionality game, but still hundreds of millions use Twitter because it solves the problem of fast information delivery.
Summarizing everything said in this section, just because a feature exists in a competing product, doesn’t mean you will apply it to the intended use case. You will apply only a successful solution for your specific needs, which brings us to the third point.
Let your staff use professional software they already love.
Building an effective team is challenging. When you are lucky to find an experienced professional or an aspiring candidate for your team, you need to give them the right tools to be productive.
If your sales representative has a proven track record, vast sales experience, and trained muscle memory with a favorite CRM, they will not want to use some semi-professional CRM half-baked into your coworking space management system. The same applies to accounting: an expert financier already knows and loves a billing and invoicing app like Xero or Quickbooks.
Supposing you have purchased coworking management software with tons of custom tools inside hoping that your employees will get used to the features it provides. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, you are likely to find your team using a set of familiar professional tools as the replacements you offer don't meet their requirements.
Professional tools your team use can cover almost everything but one thing — community management. This is the task for the coworking app. So, if the staff is using your coworking software almost exclusively what do they need all other features it includes for?
Match features and solutions.
To cut a long story short, I encourage you to question every feature that conventional wisdom prompts you "have to have." You'll see that most of those features are not essential and can be thrown out without any regret.
Remember that useful features might be buried in a larger product. When you review them, ask yourself:
- Does this feature address my unique pain?
- How will a specific group of people benefit from it (coworking space members/community managers)?
- Is it just another feature or a solution?"
Such an approach will help you focus on a super-serving product tailored to the needs of a vertical audience that you, your members, and managers will love.
When you will finally find the right software for the unique needs of your workspace with a perfect initial feature = solutions set, ask the vendor if the product is ready to evolve. What next solutions are they developing/going to develop to keep the initial set relevant?
Takeaway: The shift from a product-centric viewpoint to a customer-centric viewpoint will help you choose the most compelling and cost-efficient solution to your pain point(s).
Hint: If you feel like you’ve made a wrong choice, it’s never too late to migrate to a better software solution.
It's natural to compare systems when choosing an ideal product for your workspace and this section is dedicated to an in-depth comparison of andcards with other coworking space management systems available in the market.
A few words about andcards. The platform is a good example of solutions over features approach. Coworking space software is developed for coworking space brands prioritizing residents’ comfort and happiness as the only way to sustainable revenue and business growth.
andcards app approaches a wide range of common problems like real-time scheduling of the workplace, super flex office space lease, conference rooms, and meeting rooms booking, membership benefits, payments and billing, customer support, and others, from the point of a coworking space customer. This is a fundamental product strategy and direction that I am going to illustrate down below.
Here are some examples of andcards' "customer-centric" vs "administrator-friendly" approach.
Flexible workspace customers are busy people concentrated on being productive and growing their businesses. They have neither time nor desire to figure out what are all those buttons and tabs for. Right software must be intuitive and easy to use for members right out of the box, without any training or asking a community manager. It must simplify and not overcomplicate the life of seasoned residents and new members.
- Other software: Offers hybrid in-house design systems that customers aren’t familiar with. Instead of using guidelines that are based on Google’s or Apple’s research, popular coworking management systems choose to build their own subpar interface that users have to uncover and get used to.
- andcards: Uses native design (Material Design on Android, Human Interface Guidelines on iOS). This ensures that tenants already know how to use the apps. App navigation, interface elements — every detail is familiar.
Building a business is not an easy task. This is especially true for a shared workspace business with its synergy of physical space and other value-added services. It requires an efficient system of intertwined business processes.
- Other software: Management tasks can get as complex as necessary to achieve a certain goal. All those functions need to reside somewhere, hence a sophisticated array of cascading menus and buttons.
- andcards: From a customer perspective, even compound management tasks have to be as simple as possible. Businessmen are spoiled with amazing apps and interfaces, they value their time and reject unnecessary complications. That’s why andcards uses native design guidelines and simple interface logic.
Take a look at the picture. Here we map together workflow complexity and core audience, which gives an understanding of how various software options are positioned:
Currently, we continue to observe a drastic platform shift. In the last seven years, mobile traffic is up by 222%. New generations grow up with phones in their hand. The broadband internet and mobile computing are on the rise as people want to be productive on the go - remotely - from any place on Earth.
- Other software: Coworking management software gives you a set of administrative tools that help you control the workspace when you’re at your desktop while mobile apps are more of an afterthought.
- andcards: Coworking space technology prioritizes mobility and provides white-label apps across all popular platforms. There are no separate admin panel and app for members. andcards team builds one product that both users and admins use with admins just having more access permissions.
A workspace app you use should look and feel great because it supports the coworking brand image and impresses the customer. A cool coworking brand will never offer its members old school or unusable apps because this will negatively impact its reputation.
- Other software: Most of the "all-inclusive" coworking management systems update their mobile apps once every 6-12 months. This happens rarely because mobile apps are an afterthought, not the main product.
- andcards: Our web apps are updated daily and mobile apps are updated weekly. Members' apps are our main product and we understand the importance of having up-to-date apps for a solid brand image. andcards dark mode is a good example of how your coworking app could follow the latest UI trends. Only andcards supports dark mode for more than a year. We implemented the black interface right after Apple and Google adopted the new design paradigm.
Think of your workspace audience: how many people are paying residents, non-paying residents, and your team? If you think about your customers, there are two groups: those who pay for themselves and those who are paid for.
No doubt you need to have a great experience for those who pay. But what about the residents who move in? Do you want to make all of your customers happy or just a selected few?
The graphic you see below shows which software is focused on paid for residents and coworking staff and which cares about all residents. This will help you make an informed choice depending on your business strategies.
At this point, we clearly understand that coworking software can be classified according to the audience it is intended for. Please refer to the pic above - Officernd, Cobot, Nexudus as well as Satellite Deskworks are primarily intended for workspace employees and paid for residents. While andcards is intended for all residents including paid-for ones.
Naturally, products developed for different audiences will have different metrics of successful application.
- Other software: Admin-focused software revolves around such metrics as space utilization or financial performance. These metrics have nothing to do with the customer experience and require as many data points as possible. To get required data points for analysis, such software focuses on an ever-increasing spectrum of features for a dozen of your management team members.
- andcards: As andcards is a product for all tenants, its efficiency is measured in user engagement, activation rate, and app usage across all members, which counts hundreds of people.
The pricing model structures of the most popular coworking space management platforms are more or less similar. They are based on the number of members. The difference is mainly in the cost-efficiency of the pricing plans.
- Other software: Cobot - starts from $129/mo for up to 40 members, Officernd - starts from $119/mo for up to 100 members, Nexudus - $135/mo for up to 40 users.
- andcards: andcards offers a flexible pricing policy starting as low as $79 per month with up to 40 active members. An active member is anyone who is actively using your app, which means we don't charge for customers that don't bring value to you. All product features, unlimited integrations, top-rated web and mobile apps, regular product updates, and free top-notch customer support are included in a Starter plan, which incentivizes building an inclusive platform for all residents. Free demo and free trial are available.
Looks like you already know pretty much about coworking software, its classification, and the main criteria to compare the biggest players on the market.
I believe that when you start to consider options, you won't be dazzled by the variety of features and count only solutions the technology offers.
Now, if you need a tool to manage your coworking space, use this checklist to make the best choice:
- Are you looking for a set of administrative tools for managers or a self-service platform for members?
- What particular problems are you looking to solve?
- Do software features address most of your pains?
- Will the software make member experience at your space better?
- Will the software enhance your brand?
- Is the platform simple enough or should you train members/managers to start using it?
- How often the software is updated?
- Is technical support free? How fast will you get help?
- What value will you get for your money?
I advise you to be careful when setting priorities as you can end up paying for a set of tools your team of professionals is not using. Sometimes, getting a single piece of software that combines custom-made CRM + accounting + visitor management system + floor plans + whatnot = Officernd, Cobot, Nexudus, Satellite Deskworks, etc. is not the best option.
Invest in members' happiness as your revenue depends on it. Provide customers with an easy way to discover, apply, and pay for your services inside the app. Choose coworking software that is fundamentally focused on tenants' experience. Give your team the freedom to use their favorite professional apps (a separate cutting-edge solution for every purpose) connected with your main coworking space software via smart integrations = andcards.
Finally, both approaches described in the article have their merits and I strongly recommend you to tear and wear the software before making the final decision. You can start right now by either trying andcards for free or scheduling a free demo call for one-on-one meeting with one of our experts.