Technology for property management has evolved. A growing number of managers are replacing pen and paper with tablets and smartphones on compliance rides and even HOA boards are discovering the benefits of association web portals with important functions, such as, online payments, homeowner accounts, eBlasts, and community calendars. While the industry as a whole has been slow to adopt new technologies, many property management companies are realizing the competitive edge software can provide by streamlining operations and making it easier to provide quality service to HOA clients.
Managers interested in adopting technology solutions are looking to serve internal operational needs and meet external association requests. Internally, managers want a mobile compliance application with the ability to capture violations with photos, a simple, centralized database without expensive hardware, and an easy to learn platform for staff to access and track homeowner accounts. Board members are demanding better reporting, quicker correspondence, and most importantly, online access to their accounts placed with the property management company. A board member of a local self-managed association in Tempe explained, “We serve our community on a volunteer basis, so we turned to software to reduce our time commitment in managing the association budget, homeowner dues, and keeping up with our compliance inspections” – Chris, Village at Shalimar.
Technology should simplify life for board members and aid property management companies in growing business, going paperless and helping managers to do their job more effectively. When evaluating software options with technology firms, before scheduling a demo with a software company, compile a list of key functions and business requirements in order to evaluate how closely a potential software solution aligns with your specific needs. Here are several important factors to consider when looking for a technology solution:
- Scalability – Whether your company is managing one or a thousand associations, find a product that empowers your company to accomplish core functions with a flexible, affordable, web-based platform. This will allow room to grow within a single solution. Look for a solution with “pay as you grow” pricing so you aren’t penalized for being the “little guy” starting out, or overburdened if you already manage a long list of communities.
- Accessibility – Look for a solution that is fully hosted (cloudbased). This will eliminate the need to acquire and maintain expensive server hardware, and enables system accessibility with only an internet connection and a browser. Choosing cloud-based software allows management companies to save time, money, and head count. Security and privacy are critical when it comes to adopting a cloud-based system and it should offer security such as SSL data encryption. Be sure to read the terms of service documents carefully to ensure guar anteed and explicit ownership of your data so that it cannot be sold or used by a third party.
- Mobility – A powerful mobile application for smart phones and tablet devices will help make managers truly mobile. Choose an application that can fulfill your core compliance functions, such as capturing violations during inspections and re-inspections, and work orders with photos in the field that synchronize automatically. Some mobile solutions run on mobile browsers, requiring a constant 3G/4G/5G connection and a lot of data usage. These tend to run slower and are less robust than true mobile applications. Look for a mobile application that saves inspection data locally on the device to avoid problems associated with loss of internet connectivity. Finally, mobile applications available via the Apple Store or Google Play Store undergo thorough testing and therefore are generally better quality (and more trustworthy) than applications downloaded from another source.
- Innovation – With the ever changing rules, regulations and laws, it is important to choose a technology solution that is committed to continually innovating, evolving and growing to match your business needs. Look for a company that maintains a regular schedule of update releases and that is willing to listen to suggestions for enhancing its system over time.
- Integration – Make sure that the new software will be able to integrate with platforms you are currently using. It could be costly to have to buy a specific hardware or new accounting software if your new technology is not compatible. You might also consider how the solution integrates with community web portals to make account information accessible to homeowners, and online merchant accounts to enable online bill pay.
Technology is the future of the industry. Don’t get left behind.