Switching Property Management Software? Tips for a Smooth Transition
One key way to future-proof your property management business is to use the right technology. Spreadsheets, paper ledgers and even existing software can quickly become outdated in such a fast-paced environment, so it is likely that – at some point – your business will benefit from a system upgrade. As the industry continues to evolve, new software features and landlord benefits are constantly emerging. Tenant and owner portals, automated data entry, electronic cash payment services and cloud technology are all examples of recent time and money saving utilities that could benefit your growing business.
Is it time to explore new property management technologies?
If growing your property management business is your ultimate goal, finding ways to save both money and time are critical. As your business grows, your needs are likely to change – systems like manual accounting or data entry might become unrealistic and take up valuable time (remember that manual processes are also more prone to human error). Reevaluate your business needs on an annual basis to identify the services that are the most important to your property management business.
When you step back to look at the workflow and processes, closely examine the sticking points. If there is a technology that could make your life easier, and speed things along, then this can be a big factor in your decision. Think things like online payment processing, mobile apps, electronic signature integration, virtual inspection capabilities, and more. If your current software doesn’t provide these types of features, or doesn’t provide the customer service and support needed to take advantage of them, it might be time to move on.
Where your data is stored is also an important consideration in today’s virtual world. To stay up-to-date, software really must be cloud-based. It is efficient, and facilitates access to your business information from any location at any time. As with any software, your cloud-based system must have stringent privacy and security measures to protect your sensitive data.
Of course, cost-effectiveness is always a top consideration when choosing new software. Do some competitive research and ensure that the pricing is commensurate with the benefits received before making a decision about your new property management software.
Considerations for making the change
Don’t let fear of change keep you from making an upgrade that will benefit your business in the long run. Take advantage of demos, live tours, help articles and free trials to preview new software options and get a better sense of what might work best for you and your business. Pay close attention to support offerings for new clients to make sure you have the assistance you need to get things up and running.
- What is the best timeline for my business? Timing is an important consideration here. Create a timeline for your transition to a new property management system based on length of training, how long it will take to upload your information to the new system, and your state and tax reporting requirements. Have a firm deadline for when your information will be closed out of the old system.
- How will a transition affect my taxes and reporting? Unless you plan to input past data into your new system, understand that you will have two sets of reports to provide to your accountant at the end of the tax year.
- Are there any items that need to be wrapped up? Take care of any loose ends like updating outstanding balances, expenses or income. It is best practice to export all data and reports from your old system for recordkeeping purposes. Once you are officially up and running in your new system and have confirmed that you have copies of any pertinent data related to taxes, tenant or client information, etc., you can close out your old account.
Old school paper and pencil or spreadsheet tracking will only last you so long. Most landlords are already using some kind of property management software, but it is important to periodically take inventory of your needs. Thoughtful planning and a little research will help you find the software that best fits your business, leaving you with the time to focus on growing your business and caring for your portfolio.