5 Interview Questions for Your Next Building Software Vendor

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Building Software Schneider ElectricI concluded my last blog post by detailing the benefits a managed software as a service (MSaaS) solution delivers to facility managers. To quickly reiterate, MSaaS combines software as a service (SaaS) cloud-based data analytic solutions (which automatically pull building management system [BMS] data for analysis in a virtual cloud environment) with the oversight of remote engineering experts. Remote engineers first work with you to understand your financial and performance goals before using insights from the analytics to achieve them. SaaS analytics then enable them to remotely troubleshoot issues, identify energy saving opportunities and deliver recommendations for upgrade/repair/maintenance based on your stated priorities.

MSaaS is the best of both worlds, combining analytics software and engineering expertise to drive significant results in your building. You have all the information you need, and your staff is completely focused on doing the right thing at the right time. On top of that, the MSaaS analytics solution can be made accessible to all your building’s vendors, saving them time and making building services more effective. The data can be leveraged to improve vendor management by ensuring issues are fully resolved by utilizing analytic findings and monitoring capabilities to ensure issues do not reappear.

Building Software Vendor Schneider electricBefore you can start reaping the benefits of your BMS data however, there are five important things to ask when interviewing an MSaaS vendor for your building.

I’ve put together the following script (with implications) to save you the leg work:

Topic: Advanced FDD Library

  • Question: Do you have a robust library of hierarchical, rule-based fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) that can be quickly adapted to my building through mass customization?
  • Implication: A good cloud-based SaaS solution should constantly deploy new versions with added features and functionality as part of your subscription to ensure efficient budgeting and “no surprises” for required software upgrades and diagnostic improvements later.

Topic: Detailed Reports

  • Question: Do you provide regular detailed reports that prioritize fault findings based on comfort, energy savings and maintenance impact so that I can hone in on the faults that impact my business priorities?
  • Implication: A sophisticated building management system generates a lot of data about a building’s performance. Reports and graphics that aggregate the data are an integral part of the system’s functionality. These data dashboards help facility staff visualize what’s going on in their building at any given time. But, dashboards tell only where inefficiencies exist—not why. The addition of building data analytics software can interpret this data and convert it into “actionable information” so facility managers can prioritize and proactively address issues for long-term solutions. Best-in-class solutions include easy-to-read reports that provide data driven prioritization based on the goals of the customer – for example, saving energy, improving comfort or better life cycle maintenance. Customer value reports highlight the impact of recommended changes and provide concrete ROI information for the C-suite. These reports serve as an excellent way to justify continued investment in building analytics and help with overall operating budgets.

Topic: Scalability

  • Question: Is your solution hosted on a flexible software platform that can handle the consumption of billions of data points and scale from a single building to an entire enterprise?
  • Implication: Hugely important, this ensures that as you grow, your solution can grow with you – regardless of your future needs.

Topic: Open Protocols

  • Question: Do your open software protocols allow integration with all third-party building automation systems to maximize efficiency and ease of installation?
  • Implication: Proprietary protocols only benefit the vendor – forcing you to stay with them.

Topic: Global Presence and Service Support

  • Question: Do you have a global presence and history of industry expertise in building management?
  • Implication: Depending on the size of your organization, looking for a vendor with a solid industry expertise in building management, along with a global presence could be a critical decision point. At the very least, ensure that the vendor is a market leader that will provide a solution that continually evolves to keep up with the market changes.

Note that if you have little or no on-site staff, adding a maintenance agreement to any of these options will provide a turnkey solution for your facility. If you’re ready to get started today, read our white paper Optimizing Buildings Using Analytics and Engineering Expertise to learn more. Or if you’d like to learn a little more first, start my blog series at the top with, “4 Options to Consider when Incorporating Building Analytics into Your Facility.

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