Managing Your Workspace: DIY vs. Outsourcing vs. Enterprise-grade Platform

By Lucy Allen · 16.10.2020 · 5 MIN READ

Historically, the lack of management tools that facilitate tasks, meeting room bookings, CRM, billing, invoicing, and IT service provisioning caused flexible workspace operators to find solutions on their own. In some cases, meaning they built their own technology or outsourced to multiple vendors.

Many larger operators have developed software tools in-house or worse, continue to manage critical business processes and reporting manually in Excel spreadsheets. This approach has proven to be growth-prohibitive, resource intensive and costly.

Read on to discover the different options when it comes to managing your flexible workspace, along with our recommendation, showing how you can scale effectively whilst still being in control.

Option 1 – DIY

This may seem like the favourable choice for operators because you can build a bespoke solution that caters for your needs. However, in many cases, in-house teams do not have access to resources or budgets for R&D to implement the latest technologies.

Also, it’s not a project that finishes once the solution is built. Software requires on-going maintenance, development and an in-house team. This all adds to the bottom line and distracts operators from what they’re good at, focusing on members.

The other DIY approach consists of cobbling together multiple disparate systems which results in:

  • Managing multiple vendors​
  • Multiple systems​ with training and integration overheads
  • Repetitive manual tasks with errors and frustration ​
  • Operational bottlenecks as processes rely on flex-space staff​
  • Lack of economies of scale e.g. when you add a site you need to add heads to the IT team​
  • Outdated solutions that grow uncontrollably without a roadmap or architecture

Contracting with a different company for each service is a recipe for disaster. Considering the many tasks that operators are already juggling, managing multiple vendors put an unnecessary strain on resources and budget. Even hiring an IT Director to manage multiple platforms can be cost-prohibitive, especially when there are integrated platforms on the market that are easily run by an admin-level staff or a centre manager.

There is an expectation from today’s members that services are easy to buy and use – just like consumer services. Many internal teams struggle to implement the technology to deliver such experiences, missing out on new ways to increase revenue and member retention.

Option 2 – Outsourcing to a managed service provider

This option is similar to the above in that you are essentially moving a manual task of your own for somebody else to do it. The idea of unburdening your operations is great in theory but if anything goes wrong, for example, connectivity outage, the control is in somebody else’s hands. Try telling your members that though. Blaming it on somebody else won’t cut it when there is an angry member complaining about internet issues.

Managed service providers are essentially a reseller of 3rd party systems and hardware which results in:

  • No control – there can be long delays if anything goes wrong as the provider doesn’t own the hardware
  • Inefficiency – still requires multiple systems and vendors with limited automation​
  • Can be very costly!​
  • Not scalable​
  • Rarely fit-for purpose when your core business is all about flexibility and immediacy of moves, additions and changes

Option 3 – Investing in an enterprise-grade platform

Many operators approach managing their workspace with in-house teams or third-party developers, to build business critical applications. The results are mixed and varied – but rarely do they stand the test of time – especially when long-term growth is the objective.

Software can and should fulfil the necessities of running the workspace. Here’s the benefits of an enterprise-grade network solution that is purpose built for the flexible workspace industry:

  • Fully automated
  • Full control and visibility​
  • Real-time analytics​
  • Fully supported​ with integrations
  • Scalable​
  • Strong return on investment with​ predictable costs

Our Recommendation

Here at essensys, we believe operators should forget developing software and patching IT systems, and instead take advantage of software solutions that have been developed specifically for you to run your flexible workspace business. This allows operators to concentrate on customer satisfaction and collaboration within their member community.

A software platform that provides an integrated set of tools to manage a flexible workspace and its members gives you a competitive edge. By employing the right software, providers can address the multiple moving parts of a shared workspace operation, free up resources, focus on customers and ultimately empower their brand and member experiences.

Don’t just take our word for it…

See what our customers have to say.

Prior to essensys, Brain Embassy worked with a combination of workspace tools to take care of things such as meeting room management and community member portal. However, the major downfall was that in wishing to add to the system (CRM and events for example) was an additional 3rd party integration. They wanted a comprehensive and seamless experience, offering an all-in-one solution.

At one point they had the intention of doing in-house development however the cost, time to market and ongoing maintenance were not justifiable.

“We’d have to build our own software department to make it the exact platform that we need.” Oren Gozlan, Brain Embassy

There was a natural temptation for Serendipity Labs to also build all the software and systems they needed to support their business strategy and serve their brand requirements.

“After having gone through a deliberate exercise of business requirements and the cost-of-ownership analysis we came to the conclusion – and I think a wise one – that we didn’t want to build all of the technology, we wanted to acquire and integrate it.” Vinay Kantak, Serendipity Labs

About the Author

Lucy Allen

I'm the product marketing wizard at essensys. When I'm not doing marketing for the flexible workspace industry, I'm normally out and about with mates, watching Friends episodes for the millionth time or planning my next city break adventure