How to Choose a Coworking Space App: Best Solutions Compared
It's difficult to imagine a powerful coworking brand having no workspace application. There is no lack of innovative software for flexible workspaces as well. Some vendors call their technology coworking space management software and promise paperwork automation. Others focus on tenants and prioritize end-user experience, which is coworking space software. Let's figure out which approach is right for you.
First of all, you need to decide who you are choosing software for.
The most fundamental difference between all market players is who they develop software for.
- Coworking space management software is designed for administrators. Its main users are community managers, sales representatives, accountants, and other workspace team members and employees.
Workspace management software developers target almost unattainable goal. They seek to consolidate all aspects of your business into a single 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 promises apps for members but it's really difficult to straddle both worlds, isn't it?
- Coworking space software is created for 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 into an easily accessible application where tenants can discover them and obtain anything they need.
Side Note: It's a kind of utopia to think that coworking management software will free you from all management 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.
In fact, coworking management software is just a promising name that can't be taken literally.
As to the coworking space software, if customers self-serve themselves, isn’t it the best possible automation?
The next step is to figure out what problems are you trying to solve.
What are you looking at when going to buy some software? You probably click Features tab on the vendor's landing 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 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", "all-inclusive" or "feature-rich." However, after reading the previous paragraph you probably realized that selling features is the wrong mindset, which is not customer-centric at all.
Customers don't want to buy features, they want solutions to their problems. So, if a vendor really wants to make a customer happy, they must forget about features.
You got me right, when choosing an app 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.
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. This brings us to the third point.
Give your team members 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 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 all-in-one coworking space management system. The same applies to accounting: an expert financier already knows and loves an invoicing app like Xero or Quickbooks.
Supposing you have purchased all-in-one coworking management software hoping that your employees will get used to the tools 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.
As the proverb says, Jack of all trades is a master of none.
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 a perfect fit for 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.
Hint: If you feel like you’ve made a wrong choice, it’s never too late to migrate to a better 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 apps available in the market.
andcards is a good example of solutions over features approach. It is a member-centric coworking space software developed for brands prioritizing residents’ comfort and happiness as the only way to stable business growth.
andcards coworking app approaches common problems like room booking, membership benefits, payments, customer support, and others, from the point of a workspace customer. Thus, “member-first” is not a marketing trick, but a fundamental product strategy direction that I am going to illustrate down below.
Here are some examples of the "customer-centric" vs "all-inclusive" approach.
Workspace customers are busy people focused on business growth and productivity. They have neither time nor desire to figure out what are all those buttons and tabs for. Software focused on members must be intuitive and easy to use right out of the box without any preliminary learning. It must simplify and not overcomplicate the life of residents.
- 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 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.
- 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 being member-focused it supports the coworking brand image and should impress the user. 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 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 graphics 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, and Nexudus are primarily intended for workspace employees and paid for residents. 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 difference in product focus results in a different pricing structure.
Other software: Coworking space management software is intended for admins, so its primary need is to manage people. You don't manage everyone, mainly those who pay a monthly membership. So, the price of this type of software usually depends on the number of members (charge per member).
andcards: As coworking space software is aimed at all tenants, its primary focus is to have all people on the app. andcards offers pricing per branch with unlimited members, incentivizing building an inclusive platform for all residents.
Looks like you already know pretty much about coworking software, its classification, and main criteria to compare the biggest players on the market.
I believe that when you start to consider options, you won't be dazzled with a variety of features and count only solutions the technology offers.
Next, if you need a tool for your employees to help them manage and administer the workspace, you have two choices:
- Get a single piece of software that combines CRM + accounting + whatnot = Officernd, Cobot, Nexudus, etc.
- Get an array of "best of breed" apps (a separate cutting-edge solution for every purpose) connected with your main coworking space software via smart integrations = andcards.
Both approaches have their merits and I strongly recommend you study them before making your pick. This article will definitely be of great help: IT Integrations VS All-in-One Coworking Software — Which Is Best for Your Business.
Pro tip: Be careful when setting your priorities as you can end up paying for a set of tools your team of professionals is not using. Don't you think it's much wiser to invest in members' happiness as your revenue depends on it?
If you are more customer-focused and want to provide members with an easy way to discover and get your services, then go for andcards. There is really no good alternative to the member-first coworking app because in the world of coworking software only andcards is fundamentally focused on tenants' experience.
Haven’t tried andcards yet? Give it a go, schedule a demo call with us.