If you are a coworking space owner in search of the best management software for your hub, you are at the right place. 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 systems promise full paperwork automation, another prioritize member experience. Let's figure out which approach is right for you.
The most fundamental difference between all market players is who they develop software for.
Most of the workspace management platforms are designed for administrators. Their main users are community managers, sales representatives, accountants, and other flex space employees.
Their vendors target an elusive goal. They seek to consolidate all possible 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, marketing newsletters sending, and god only knows what else. Sometimes such management systems even provide mobile apps for members as a by-product but they can hardly impress your customers.
Another type of coworking space software is created to help a shared workspace earn more money by making customers happy with the service. It puts your members 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, events, etc.) into an easily accessible application where tenants can effortlessly discover them and obtain anything they need.
In other words, you provide customers with a self-service platform, which 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 you are 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 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.
I remember sitting in a phone call after phone call after phone call with every coworking software on the planet and just banging my head against the wall because they couldn't solve the problem. Everybody's still thinking in the same black and white square box kind of way. —Lindsay Hedenskog, CEO and COO of LAMB
If you own a single location coworking space, your key concerns are probably automation of processes instead of hiring more administrators, engaging members in the community, and making them stay with you longer and buy your products more often.
So, if a vendor offers beautiful floor plans and a built-in CRM inside the coworking app, do those features solve any of your problems? Just the opposite, they make the software more expensive and complicated to use.
But the room and desk booking systems, cool members’ apps, beautiful products and benefits catalogs, automated invoicing, and so on, look like solutions to your specific needs.
Well, after reading the previous paragraphs you probably realized that selling features to grab each and every audience (flexible and coworking spaces, hybrid workplaces, property management companies, commercial property owners, and whoever) 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?"
Now, let me cite a couple of examples of solutions over the features approach for you to deeper understand the difference.
At the time of iPhone introduction, it didn't have an SD card, stylus, and 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 is 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 and 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 system. The same applies to accounting: an expert financier already knows and loves an invoicing app like Xero or Quickbooks.
Supposing you have purchased a coworking space platform 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 uses can cover almost everything but one thing—community management. This is the task of the coworking space app. So, if the staff is using your coworking space software almost exclusively what do they need all other features it includes for?
Match features and solutions.
When choosing a system to manage your workspace, 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:
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.
The thing that I appreciate about andcards is that is what I think a lot of other coworking software is doing wrong. They build their apps for the coworking operator. And what I really adore about andcards is that you guys built your app from the member's perspective. It's not filled with a bunch of stuff that you don't need. It's only filled with essential features. So it's really easy to navigate. It's really easy to find what you need. — Lindsay Hedenskog, CEO and COO of LAMB
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 points.
Hint: If you feel like you’ve made the 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 to other platforms available in the market.
A few words about andcards. The platform is a good example of solutions over features approach. The software is developed for coworking space brands prioritizing members’ comfort and happiness as the only way to sustainable revenue and business growth.
andcards app approaches a wide range of common problems like invoicing and payments, conference rooms, and meeting rooms booking, desk booking, customer support, events management, 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.
I haven't gotten any calls because it's so simple. Members just log in and go from there. The interface is pretty simple even for non-tech people. They easily make payments, see the events, and Stream conversations on the screen. They're loving it. — Kenneth Penn from The Lab on Dexter
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.
I basically just add the events and then one of our assistants handles the rest. We put the invoice out there and members just pay it right in the app. Administrators can easily see who hasn't paid and who has. Also, our team finds analytics very advantageous. They can see the numbers and monitor our growth. All those tools we use are very intuitive and user-friendly. — Kenneth Penn from The Lab on Dexter
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.
Embassy House web and mobile apps developed by andcards
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.
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 paying tenants 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 space 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 paying tenants. While andcards is intended for all residents including paid-for ones.
Naturally, products developed for different audiences will have different metrics of successful application.
The pricing model structures of the most popular coworking 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.
Looks like you already know pretty much about coworking space software, its classification, and the main criteria to compare the biggest players on the market.
To make the process of choice even easier for you, we created a beautiful infographic you see below. It compares the most popular platforms business owners use to manage their spaces.
The table highlights features offered by software vendors, identifies their importance for managing a coworking space, and points out how well those features are implemented by the rivals. We didn’t forget about price and user experience aspects as well.
I believe that now when you start to consider options, you won't be dazzled by the variety of features and count only solutions that are critical for running YOUR business.
For instance, getting a single piece of software that combines custom-made CRM + accounting + deliveries management + floor plans + whatnot = Officernd, Cobot, Nexudus, may be a good option for an office center but not a shared workspace like you.
Check out the story of Campfire Coworks: How Campfire Migrated From Nexudus to andcards & Increased Desk Occupancy by 52%
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 space 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 system 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 scheduling a free demo call for a one-on-one meeting with one of our experts or watching a quick six-minute product tour.