Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite subject: data. There’s a saying out there which goes, “Stuff in, stuff out.” Well, maybe it doesn’t go exactly like that, but you get the idea. Data is not only the first piece in the puzzle when deploying new property management software, but it is also the foundation on which all others will be aligned. And finding a place to start may seem daunting if you don’t narrow your field of vision; so let’s take things one step at a time.
1. What data will I need?
Depending on your property type and any unique business processes, the general information you will need to collect is the following:
- Internal employee users
- Tenant company records
- Tenant employee records
- Vendor company records
- Equipment records
- Work order issue types
Optional data which may be relevant is the following:
- Labor rates
- Building images
2. How will I gather this data?
This is the portion of the process where you can really save yourself some time by identifying what collection process works best for you. Those companies coming over from an existing system will most likely be able to export the majority into Excel reports. If an existing system is not in place, consider what portions may be available from internal documents such as the rent roll or stacking plan.
The data component which generally takes the longest to collect is tenant employees. To speed up this process, first identify how many users you will want to input into the system. Providing more users favors the ability to message to a larger audience. On the other hand, providing fewer users may be faster, and funnels the tenant workflow through a small set of primary contacts.
Once you have selected the scope of tenant users you wish to add, come up with a defined plan for identifying their contact information if it is not readily available. Common practices for this step are to email out a memo with a short form that should be returned, or to send out a member of your staff to quickly walk the buildings and ask in-person. Regardless of what method you pick, make sure to set a firm end date for the task so that the process does not drag you into the weeds. Keep in mind that you will always be able to add additional information into the system at any point.
3. What is the required format?
Here at Building Engines, the data a new client provides will be bulk loaded from our end, so formatting is a key factor. That being said, we provide all of the necessary formatting templates during the first meeting with your deployment lead. Clients exporting data from an existing system will receive assistance in identifying the correct reports to generate, as well as transferring that information into a usable format. Bottom line: Ask your new provider what their system requires before you get started.
4. How long will all of this take?
The true answer to this question is that it is entirely dependent on the bandwidth our clients have to devote to the process, and what information they already have at their fingertips. In my personal experience, I have deployed groups of 50+ buildings that have returned data in a week, and conversely have deployed single buildings that have taken over one month to do the same. Companies coming from an existing system will generally have a leg up, as exporting data in the form of reports is much faster than collecting it from scratch.
The important take away to timing is that devoting the appropriate internal resources and bandwidth to the process will drastically reduce the amount of time involved. I urge each of my clients to stay especially focused during this portion of deployment, and to avoid tumbling down the rabbit hole for that last piece of data, just barely out of reach.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of data collection, give your new provider a call. If you went with a superior software partner, you should have someone walking you through the entire process with best practice recommendations and a wealth of industry knowledge.