Frequently Asked Questions



What sets the FOM system apart from other lab management products? Back to top

The Facility Online Manager (FOM) system is a high performance web application designed as a 100% browser-based solution, and it is specifically designed for scientific resource management. Most competing tools are either too generic to use in scientific labs without a lot of hassle, or too sophisticated to be maintained by non-IT-savvy facility managers. The FOM system provides a rich and powerful, yet easy to use cross-platform application.

Also, because no two labs are the same, no two installations of FOM are the same - with customizations, any and all aspects of FOM can be customized to your specifications, at a very fast turnaround time and very reasonable rates.

We also dare to match! If you see any competing software in the same market that provides any feature not seen in FOM, we will add it free of charge for you. If you see any software that provides comparable features at a lower price, we will match the price!

I have my own scheduling software, why should I still consider FOM? Back to top

FOM supports much more functions besides instrument scheduling. Almost everything you can think of related to automating facility management is covered in FOM, such as:
  • Charge policies based on instrument time, subscription, labor hours, consumables, or services/collaborations.
  • Consumable inventory management
  • Service/collaboration request and processing
  • Training requests and appointments
  • Mailing lists to various groups
  • Customizable reports
  • Invoice/payment tracking
  • Instrument maintenance records
  • Even more, plus endless flexibility with customizations

Do I have to have my own server and software to use the FOM system? Back to top

You may either set up your own server or host on our dedicated server at For the free license level, only the hosted option is available.

What licensing options are available? Back to top

We offer four levels of licenses, which range from free-hosting service to complete solution for a whole institution. Please visit the Compare Licenses page for details.

Can I upgrade my license from Free-hosting to Standard license or directly to Enterprise? Back to top

Yes. You may upgrade your FOM license at any time by paying the price difference of the initial license.

What programming languages are used to create the FOM system? Back to top

The backend is completely written in Java, and the frontend is designed with HTML and Javascript/jQuery.

What security measures are included for the web based system? Back to top

All the user passwords are encrypted before being transferred across the internet. Our hosted service at is configured to use the industry standard SSL protocol. We may also customize the FOM system to use your university's Single Sign On (SSO) system.



What operating system platforms are supported as FOM client (user)? Back to top

Apple Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Unix... - any operating system that has a standard internet browser is supported.

What operating system is required for installing the FOM system on my own server? Back to top

Microsoft Server operating system 2003 or higher. We also support Linux Server OS with an additional customization fee.

What database engine is used by the FOM system? Back to top

Microsoft SQL database, standard version or the free express version.

How do we install/set up the FOM system? Do we have to install it by ourselves or you will install it for us? Back to top

You may choose to install the FOM system by yourself or ask us to install for you. If you install by yourself, we will provide detailed screenshot-level instructions on how the installation and routine administration is done. If we install the system for you, we charge an installation fee based on the time we spend - typically 6-8 hours.

Do you provide on-site installation and training? What is the cost (do we pay for travel)? Back to top

Usually there is no need for us to travel on-site to perform installation or training. If you prefer on-site training, you are to pay for the travel expenses and the time we spend, at the rates listed at the bottom of the Compare Licenses page.



What level of customizations that you provide? Can we redesign the user interface? Back to top

Any and all parts of FOM are customizable! You may propose your own training processes, charge policies, management rules, and GUI design. We have never rejected a customization request, and most customizations have a turnaround time of 4-5 business days.

How is the charge for customizations calculated? Back to top

The customization cost is calculated based on the time that we spend on designing the feature, and implementing it. Once we receive a customization proposal, we will discuss the request and then send you an estimate of how many hours it will take to fulfill the customization. The hourly rate for customization is listed in the pricing page. For basic/standard license it is $50/hr and for enterprise license it is $150/hr. Additional fees may apply at our discretion, but if that happens (very rarely) we will include it in the estimate.

Do you provide customizations to integrate with our institutional Single Sign On authentication system? Back to top

Yes, we can customize FOM to integrate with different kinds of SSO systems, such as Active Directory, Shibboleth, CAS, SAML, etc.

Do you provide directions or assistance with setting up FOM to be compatible with our financial system? Back to top

We count integration with existing financial systems as customizations. This is definitely possible, including but not limited to PeopleSoft and Workday. This is one of the typical customization items that we do for our customer institutions.

How long does it generally take to add a feature to FOM? Back to top

We will give an estimate of how many hours that are needed for each additional feature you request and a rough time when it will be finished. Most customization items can be fulfilled within a couple days. More complicated customization projects may take up to 1-2 weeks.

Advanced FOM Features


What charge policies are available in the FOM system? Back to top

There are three default charge policies in the FOM system, charge per use (flat fee), charge per actual used time, and the combined policy to charge either by reserved or actual used time, whichever is greater. FOM also provides mechanisms to charge by units of consumables used or different accessories on an instrument. For service-oriented cores, FOM has modules to charge at each step of the service and collaboration process. You may also propose your own charge policy, and it can be added as a customization.

How does FOM treat no-shows? How are the charges are calculated for no-shows? Back to top

For each resource, the manager may define a certain no-show timeout. When the no-show timeout triggers, the reserved time is released so other users may to express logon to use the resource. Meanwhile the user who reserved the time can also resume the reservation without duplicated charges. If a user never shows up over the whole reserved time period, the charge will depend on the charge policy defined for this resource. For the combined policy, the user is charged the reserved time in full (users are encouraged to cancel their sessions if they don't plan to use them!); for charge per actual used time policy, no-show users are not charged; for charge per use policy, no-show users are charged a flat fee.

How does the interlock (access control) system work? Do we need a computer for each instrument to control the access? Back to top

The hardware interlock system uses an ethernet protocol to communicate with the central FOM server. Each access control box has its own IP address, and it does not need a computer to be in the instrument room. The access control box accepts authenticated on/off commands from the central FOM server once a user logs on/off in the corresponding instrument calendar.

How much does an access control box cost? Do we need one box per instrument? Back to top

We provide many different types of the access control units. Most of them support the control of multiple instruments with a single device. Please contact us if you need more information about the specifications and the prices of the hardware devices.

Do you provide software access control interlocks? Back to top

Yes, we have a software access control client that may be installed on the instrument-control computers. This software interlock is sold separately from the main FOM package. Please contact us for more details.

Do you provide support for third party hardware interlocks? Back to top

Yes, we can customize the system to use any (reasonably documented) third party hardware.



What is your support and upgrade policy? Is there an ongoing support cost? Back to top

All the Basic, Standard, and Enterprise licensees are required to purchase license annual renewals from the second year. The annual renewal fee includes free upgrades, bug fixes, and 12 hours of limited technical support.

How stable is the pricing? Can we "lock in" a license renewal rate to protect against future price changes? Back to top

From the day FOM Networks, Inc. was incorporated, we have never changed the license structure or pricing from the one currently shown on the Compare Licenses page. We do not expect to ever have to change this pricing model, and can specifically guarantee that the renewal rate for any existing license held by a customer will not be increased.

How well does the FOM system scale? Is there a limit to the number of calendars, instruments, users, or facilities? Back to top

The FOM system was developed with scalability in mind, and has a virtually unlimited ability to scale. All the four types of FOM licenses support an unlimited number of calendars, instruments, and users. The enterprise license may be used to host multiple facilities within the same institution using a single server.

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