The world is changing much faster than ever before, and those companies that are not continuously improving run the risk of being left behind.  New software systems can provide more efficient ways to operate your business by integrating each step of the process (e.g. your inspections, work orders and purchase orders can be presented on a smart turn board as you work through your turn process, and your fixed assets can automatically be populated based upon your purchases).  Such integrated process systems can provide extraordinarily positive results in efficiency and process compliance through the presentation of better and more timely information, easier and more efficient methods of getting work done, and allowing you to do things that weren’t possible in the past.  The trick is to find the right solution and provider that will help you be successful as you make the switch and grow as times change.

 

Implementing new software can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be.  Newer systems are much easier to use than older systems.  When you implement new software, you can retain your existing processes, or choose to make improvements become more efficient.  In addition, some software platforms provide training and support to help you implement the solution, but not all do so make sure this is a benefit that your prospective partner provides.

 

Looking at software innovations over the years, we see examples of how various systems positively impacted how we work.  The inventions and improvements to Graphical User Interfaces, browsers, spreadsheets, and accounting software have changed the way we work so dramatically, it’s hard to imagine working without them.  In that same way, in our world of property management, recent improvements to software and technology have created efficiencies that have streamlined our operations dramatically.

 

For example, if you currently need to enter data into your inspection, work order, purchasing, fixed asset and/or turn board modules separately, a new software can automatically leverage data from one module to the other, eliminating multiple inputs while you use each module.  Sometimes, you don’t even realize the compromises you make by not upgrading your software.  You don’t know what you’re missing.

 

Process Management and Collaboration Software:

Many processes are performed to support a businesses’ underlying operations.  Within Multifamily, software helps us lease units, process payments, perform service requests/work orders, track purchases, manage turns, etc.  Before such software existed on the web, teams of people had to do a lot of extra work to provide information to the corporate office.  Information wasn’t always readily available.  Separate systems were needed to run various processes.  Trying to pull together the history of repairs and purchases for any given unit required translating data from multiple systems and possibly involved sitting down with a box of old invoices and transposing data to a spreadsheet.  Today, it’s possible to collaborate among staff and suppliers on repairs, to enforce standards, and to optimize business processes, so operations can be done with fewer people at higher quality in less time.

 

Marketplaces:

While most people know about Amazon.com for their personal purchases, marketplaces also provide incredible efficiencies to businesses.  They allow companies to purchase items at their contracted prices, encourage the purchase of standard items by staff, and enable the enforcement of proper budgets (GL codes) and approval processes.

 

Some software platforms, such as FacilGo®, comprehensively cover an entire process such as turns and maintenance and enable collaboration between staff and suppliers.  These platforms may be much better than what you are using today; however, justifying the switching cost is the real question.  In order to determine if a platform change is worth the cost of change, you need to review several factors:

 

Does your new platform allow you to implement your ideal process ?

If a software platform is dictating how you run your business, that is a problem.  Sometimes, you don’t even realize the compromises that you’ve had to make for your software.  For example, are you having to enter data into your inspection, work order, purchasing, fixed asset and turn board systems separately, or does your software automatically update each of them while you are using each module?

 

Are their software modules easy to setup and configure?

If the new software requires you to perform a lot of configuration and setup, it probably won’t get done.  On the other hand, if the software allows you to pull and push data from your existing systems to be setup and the software provider helps translate your current documents and processes into their platform, then it will take you very little effort to have the system up and running. Make sure the setup process is easy, or else you’ll never be able to get the process off the ground. Consultative support is critical to ensure successful deployment and use.

 

Will the software provider help you train and support your staff?

Not all organizations have staff set aside to help train and support the implementation of new platform modules.  Whether your software provider has such resources available to provide training or not, this needs to be considered if and when to implement a new software platform.  After all, if staff is not available to train and support a platform, the software implementation is will fail.

 

Let’s face it.  Some software providers try to support their customers more comprehensively than others.  Just because software new modules are available from your current property management provider, it doesn’t mean that they are the best solution for you.  Consider using an integrated process software provider that offers a more comprehensive, focused, consultative level of service and solution.  If you implement a new software platform, you have the opportunity to greatly help your organization with vastly better capabilities than they have today.  Take a look at potential solution providers, and work with those that provide the highest value, become one with your team, and make the process as simple as possible.  A strong solution provider and solution with key services translates to a more successful implementation and makes the “leap” of change less risky and scary.