In previous posts, I've encouraged readers of this blog to contact one of the higher education experts at AssetWorks if they had questions or wanted to learn more about AiM, the company's Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS). But, it occurred to me that it might be more helpful to interview each of the team members so that you knew something about them before you talk about their IWMS solutions for higher education institutions with complex infrastructures and changing needs.
Actually, you will probably Google their name before your first meeting. But that presumes that you know their name. And, it also assumes that you want to tap into their expertise and experience.
So, in this post, I will share five reasons why you should contact Marshall McSpadden, an expert on IWMS solutions and an Account Executive at AssetWorks. Below are my questions (Jarboe) and his answers (McSpadden).
Jarboe: Marshall, if someone Googled you and clicked on your LinkedIn profile, they’d learn that you are a technology specialist with over 20 years of experience in the field. What else can you tell me about yourself that, let's say, a director of facilities at a college or university might want to know?
McSpadden: Greg, that's a good, interesting question. So, a little about my history is I've been in the IT world for quite some time. I started in college. I majored in Information Technology at Baylor University. So, when I came out of school, I was hired by IBM. So, I went from IBM to Oracle to some other prominent software vendors.
So, I've been in the software business for a long, long time. When it comes to helping folks pick the right software, understanding the needs, desires, this is something I've loved to do for quite some time.
I mean, I feel like facilities directors or folks at facilities need to wade through the good and the bad of the software choices they're making. So, I've just got a ton of experience in this—over 25 years in doing it. Impeccable record. So, one thing I'm going to do is make sure my customers get what they need, and I want to make sure that they're taken care of.
So, customer service and customer relationships have always been a pleasure for me to do. So, yeah. That's what I would say more about me. As a side note, you know, I love to come out and visit different places. So, I like to go and see my customers or potential customers. I'm usually very hands-on with them, which has been challenging during this COVID, as you know. So, I've got my vaccination now. So to all the folks out there, I'd love to come out and see how you're doing things and to see how we can help you improve.
Jarboe: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing a director of facilities at a higher education institution – particularly one with a complex infrastructure and changing needs?
McSpadden: So, that's an interesting question, again, Greg. I'll tell you this. When I joined AssetWorks about three years ago, I got the opportunity to go on many onsite customer visits. I would do these one or two-day on-campus visits where I met with Directors of Facilities, and I would go around to each of their second in lines, whether it be construction or HVAC guys or the key shops, just the different shops in general.
And I would interview them to see, you know, what they liked, what they didn't like, what they're having challenges with. So, I'd say I visited upwards of 35 customers and spent a day or two onsite doing that. And when I did, I learned there's a lot of similarities I would see recurring over and over again coming out of these meetings.
One, being retention. As most of these guys know, it's hard to keep good talent on campus, especially in the IT world or some of the specialty shops. And most of the time they don't pay the best of salaries. So, retention of employees was always top of the list.
And secondly, even to run other systems, they were having trouble with that because they couldn't keep the right IT guys on staff or the right folks. AssetWorks has been in this business for many years. We have so much talent. We've been very good at helping people out of those challenges and to help retain good folks. Or, you know, take over some of their IT complexities. So, a one, two punch there.
The other thing I saw was preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance seemed to be a backlog of eternity for all education folks. I mean, they had the list, but you see, things keep growing and growing and growing. And it was hard for them to determine what they should do and what they shouldn't do in this vast backlog that never ended and kept growing.
So, that's another piece where, you know, we have from AiM, which is a great product. It helps them analyze what they should do with what money, slice it, dice it, and understand the needs analysis. So, it's good to know what your backlog is, but it's even better to know what to spend your money on for the best bang for your buck.
So, that's two of the things I want to tell Directors of Facilities that AssetWorks and myself have learned from firsthand experience with many customers over the years.
Jarboe: So, what do you think are the biggest opportunities that a director of facilities at a college or university would be interested in talking to you about in 2021?
McSpadden: That's a good point, too. Opportunity-wise, I think Director of Facilities folks out in that area now have the opportunity to modernize. I see a lot of folks on archaic 5250-type screens that aren't mobile-friendly or mobile-first.
You know, they are double entering everything, and I feel like most of their staff, as bright as they may be, are doing things that technology should be doing for them. And you'll see it over and over, "Oh, I fill out this thing. Then I pass it over to Joe. Joe types it in, and then he passes it over to Amber. Amber adds it back into another system. Then we try to sync all of them together."
It just becomes this convoluted mess that's unnecessary. And you have folks doing data entry instead of using their brainpower and their resources for the greater good. And that means customer-facing. You know, as facilities extend to more outward-facing, people want and expect the Amazon-type feature. "Hey, I want this, and I want to know where it's in status at all times. When is it going to be here? And when will it be done? How much does it cost? What's shipping on it?"
And they want that quickly, you know. Facilities customers don't want the, "Oh, well, go fill out a piece of paper, send it over here." So, I think it's an opportunity for facilities folks to shine on their campus and put their best face forward.
Jarboe: You and I both know that when higher education institutions make complex buying decisions, they generally go through a six- step process: Problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, supplier selection, validation, and consensus creation. When in this prolonged buying process is the best time for a director of facilities to contact you?
McSpadden: You know, that's a good question. I think that the basis of it is the sooner, the better. Honestly, I mean, yeah, we pride ourselves in being consultative. First, I am a member of a sales team, but you're in control of that. And to be honest with you, most of these transitions take over a year. They're very complex. They're very detailed.
The depth of knowledge AssetWorks has is just incredible. We'll see many of our competitors hiring PMs that are just out of college, where our PMs have 15 plus years of experience, and some even have 30 plus years of experience in this area. So, the sooner you can reach out, we can help you guide you through the problem identification, understanding your needs.
AssetWorks can bring in years and years of experience of folks that have been in your world. So, it's just an excellent opportunity to become a partner. We always say, "If you buy our software, you are not a customer. You're part of the family." At our annual conferences and other places, you can see how well the AssetWorks family has worked together to take many campuses live with a fantastic solution.
And not only do we take care of you, but we have over 100 higher education folks just like you, and we work to get you guys to converse as well. So, I would say, if you're thinking about making a change or you need ideas, drop us a line. We're not going to be the high-pressure sales folk that want to close a deal tomorrow. We're going to want to understand your needs and get it done right. So, I would say reach across the aisle. We're here to help.
Jarboe: Finally, a director of facilities at a college or university generally wants information that is relevant, useful, credible, and easy to use quickly and effectively. Why are you in a position to provide that?
McSpadden: You know, I'll lean on my last response. We've been doing this for a long time. We have over 100 higher education customers. You know, we know what we're doing. Our experience is impeccable. Our service reviews are off the charts. Besides years of experience and excellent services, AssetWorks solution is the best of the breed.
It's mobile-friendly, user-friendly, request-friendly. You know, we continue to add to our product every year. And how we do that is not by throwing 16 developers in a room, throwing them some pizza, and Mountain Dew and say, "Hey, knock out some code." We reach out to you, Mr. or Mrs. Customer, and say, "What do you need?"
And we have programs. One's called a SIG, and one's called a CAB, where we directly work with you to build the product and build it out for precisely what higher education folks are needing. AssetWorks is solely focused on higher education. So, our solution is directed at you as a Director of Facilities wholeheartedly.
We only listen to you. We're not listening to 16 other market silos if you will. So we're going to be pinpointed. We're going to be in the trenches with you. So, I'd say we're here to help, and we have the experience, have the right people, have the right solution, and have the right future for developing our solution.
Note: In future posts, I'll interview Marshall McSpadden's colleagues to give you a better idea of why AssetWorks is more than just the provider of the best IWMS software for higher education; it is also a 30-year-old organization with a veteran team that's dedicated to providing you with expert, authoritative, and trustworthy advice.
About Greg Jarboe
Greg Jarboe is the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, which has provided services to the University of the Pacific, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and Dickinson College. Greg has been an instructor in several Rutgers Business School Mini-MBA programs.
Greg graduated from the University of Michigan, which was founded in 1817, but spent his junior year at the University of Edinburgh, which was founded in 1582, making it one of Scotland’s ancient universities and the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world. That’s when he had his first bite of haggis at a Burns Supper.