Get FREE Stuff! Run Credit Report Rental Forms Vacancy Center Shop & Buy!

Information Center-FREE Articles! HomeDo-It-Yourselfe-Forms CenterEvicting Your TenantLandlord Discussion BoardInformation CenterJOIN Landlord.comLandlord LawLibraryMulti-FamilyProfessional AdviceRental & Property MgmtRent CollectionRepair & MaintenanceSecurity DepositSoftware CenterTenant ScreeningVacancy CenterVacation HomesWhat's New


How to Find the Best Solution

© Copyright  2000-2011

Most property managers spend the bulk of their time taking care of the day-to-day activities of their properties, scheduling vendors, and dealing with tenants.  Often, they lack the time to investigate opportunities to improve workflow and make their jobs easier.  This results in substantial losses of time, and money, as they struggle with outdated and dissimilar management systems.

After meeting and talking with hundreds of property managers, on-site managers, CPAs, and owners at trade shows around the country, I have identified five major areas where technology could produce dramatic benefits.  Unfortunately for many managers using dated, legacy management systems, older technology has become a bottleneck choking off productivity and efficiency.  The following list is a distillation of hundreds of conversations with property managers and owners with some suggestions on what to look for in best-of-breed management software.

1.  Your Data are Located in too Many Places

Due to the fragmented nature of the real estate industry, most property management firms have pieced together multiple applications in an attempt to satisfy their software needs, resulting in numerous sources of data that are not linked together and must be manually integrated.   This is generally done on a once-a-day basis at best, usually by a staff person or consultant who has had to engineer stopgap solutions to deal with these inherent shortcomings.  A better solution would be to have all your data in one relational database where your entire workflow process is fully integrated and can be completed, often by a single person, without having to leave the program.

2.  You Lack Real Time Data Availability

Since data reside in several places, users cannot access all the information they need when they need it.  Especially problematical is reconciling data from a central site with regional data, and regional data back to the corporate office.   By using industry standard replication tools users can make data transfer much quicker and more reliable as replication is automatically scheduled for update at any time during the day or night. The entire process is invisible to you

3.  Your Programs are Poorly Integrated

Using dissimilar software applications makes being able to view a complete picture of your finances, or management needs very difficult.  A better software solution is fully integrated to sit at the core of your application hub and can “talk” to other software programs.  For example, all vacancies can be uploaded to listing sites automatically, without having to access a separate program.  And you can automatically do a large-scale mailing with a modern system that’s completely integrated into Microsoft Word and do a customized mailing for each tenant.

4.  Your Older Technology Can Be a Nightmare

Many applications are DOS-based and have a hard time interacting with other software programs.  Even many putatively Windows-based programs are really DOS programs in disguise.  A state-of-the-art system should be a client-server application with full ODBC (open database connectivity) compliancy.  This allows seamless integration into other ODBC-based software programs.  This way you’re not at the mercy of an unwieldy hodgepodge of stand-alone software that doesn’t “talk” with one another. 

5.  Each of Your Programs has a Different User Interface

Most DOS text-based non-integrated systems require you and your employees to figure out how to use each system individually and remember all the disparate ways to access data.  Some systems use hosts of codes; others use hot keys you must commit to memory.  This is quite inefficient since you not only have to train yourself but also your new employees to remember convoluted ways to complete even the most routine tasks.  Moving between a DOS text-based system and a Windows, web-based system is not consistent because each have a different user interface.  You have to learn a new system all over again.

A much better solution would include a nearly identical ASP and client-server user interface.  Training would be easy since you won’t have to learn a new program when you want to upgrade to enjoy the benefits of a web-based system.  Migration would be simple since all your data are already properly formatted, located in one database, and can be moved to a web-hosted environment without interruption.

In conclusion, the best software solution should do the following things:

·         Link all your sources of data

·         Provide real time availability of relevant information

·         Integrate all of your software

·         Feature full ODBC (open database connectivity)    compliancy, and

·         Feature a uniform graphical user interface

Such a solution will save many hours of time that can be turned to more productive pursuits, such as being able to fully manage the property and increase your profits.

By Tom Cosgrove 
Vice President, 
iManageProperty, Inc.

Back To Alphabetical  Back To Category