We all know change is difficult. Even good change can be stressful, or at least taking some getting used to. For those in multifamily property management, tradition is a fundamental of business. It’s easy to feel locked into a property management software that the company has been using for decades. When processes are already in place, and a hectic day-to-day doesn’t allow time for a giant overhaul, updating software solutions becomes an afterthought, if that.
However, misperceptions allude to software being a nightmare to replace, update, or integrate. Here’s a few reasons why you don't need to feel locked into your property management software. Hint: change can be a good thing.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
First things first, weigh the pros and cons. Take a look at your current software and determine the pros of switching to a new system. Are there pitfalls and nuances that your management team seems to harp on? Could efficiency, analytics, or workflows be improved? Then, take a look at the potential cons of switching. While cons may be easier to drum up, many are just fallacies of the process. When pros outweigh the cons, there’s no buyer remorse because it’s simply a necessary upgrade for your company.
Managing Multiple Viewpoints
Switching property management software affects the whole company, often in different manners—from the accounting to property level teams, as well as the investors and executive team. While some may find their current software adequate, others may be frustrated with its inability to integrate with certain vendors, have automatic workflows, or advanced record keeping. Replacing the current software could contribute to productivity and efficiency improvements at the property level, which turns into a profitable ROI.
In the past, the effectiveness of a company’s management software was based solely on the reporting aspects, while the impact the software could have on the effectiveness of the overall operation was secondary.
Embracing Easy Integration
The process of switching to a new software comes with fears of data loss and complex transitions. Fortunately, there are solutions out there that specialize in an easy integration process. Secure migration isn’t a term thrown around, but rather a dedicated process with expert teams who facilitate a project from start to finish. Ask the right questions to narrow down the perfect property management software:
Will I have a dedicated project manager AND account manager? Can I have a copy of the project plan prior to signing the contract? Will any of the historical data be included in the implementation? Will the monthly subscription begin upon signing the contract or after we actually go live? How do we access support after we go live? What are the fees for support? Who owns my data? How is my data secured?
Leaning on a Dedicated Support Team
No one wants to be left high and dry when they have years of data, resident contracts, and files to be migrated over to a new software solution. However, it’s a sigh of relief knowing it doesn’t have to be left completely up to the management teams. Many software solutions for property management come with a team of migration experts who do all the heavy lifting.
Don’t settle for a software that doesn’t come with a dedicated project manager for the entire implementation process. Some software solutions have a project manager for each and every module, resulting in multiple team members to correspond with during implementation—this is not ideal.
With one dedicated project manager, these experts train property managers and team members on the platform for a simple transition. Before making the switch, make sure to check if the training specialists are a one-time support, or offer continued support throughout the lifetime of being a client.
Customer service and education is an important part of software efficiency, and finding a platform that assists you every step of the way will make the switch worthwhile. The value of a platform with built-in knowledge articles and video training is paramount, so keep an eye out for a solution that offers these features.
Finding the Right Features
One of the main factors in switching software is the need to upgrade to better features and technology. Being limited by a property management software affects the bottom line (and often, sanity). When considering switching your software, do some heavy research in the features department. Certain elements, such as open-source integrations or web-based cloud software will make a world of difference.
Cloud-based software, or software with the ability to host data on an Internet-based computing system that is accessible from anywhere, is important to an advanced infrastructure. A cloud environment allows for sophisticated cloud applications to integrate with one another in ways a self-hosted vertical stack can not. There is a growing desire by multifamily operators to have access to industry-leading technology, which is often the product of independent, specialized vendors who don’t fit into the big box solutions.
Integration solutions with an open-source allow users to choose their vendor partners rather than paying fees to integrate or using a default vendor that’s not familiar or trusted.
For instance, add-on modules that are bolted into the core solution by the software provider are often times not proprietary; they likely did not develop the program in-house and acquired the functionality through purchasing the original company. In order to avoid falling into a software like this, make sure to ask the right questions: Who developed the software for the modules included in the bundled price package? Through quality integrations, the users benefit from expertise and dedicated attention from the software provider.
Rather than feeling boxed into a vendor, look for solution that stands behind the management team, allowing them the freedom to choose their preferred vendor partners, which will produce the highest ROI.
Seek out a property management software provider that is both a partner and will tackle the consulting aspects to ensure you’re working with companies that best fit your organization and will contribute to your success. For core functionality needed for day-to-day operations, having an expansive core solution built and maintained on the same platform is a strong benefit.
Strong accounting features integrated directly into the software is a must, as well as automatic workflows and lead management. Maintaining control of reports, analytics, resident renewals, and delinquent payments should be a seamless process and finding the right software solution can get you there. For specialized feature sets having integration paths to the industry leaders actually strengthens your company’s specific property management solution.
The takeaway? Do your research. Once you discover there’s a solution that can actually improve efficiencies, automation, and ROI, the decision to convert becomes simple. Don’t feel locked into your property management software—open the door and start exploring what’s out there!