When commercial real estate decision-makers evaluate property management software – either for the first time or to replace an existing platform – they often start the process by asking, “What features do we need?” They’ll often poll their workforce and put together a big checklist, culminating in a bake-off between various providers as to which company checks the most boxes. Sounds familiar, right?
The typical result of the above approach is generally a replication of existing processes and continuation of the problems you are trying to fix! Isn’t the main reason you’re looking for a new system that you want to get better?
There is a much better way people! Best-in-class companies approach software decisions (and work with potential providers) differently.
The first step in the decision-making process should be to internally define the motivation for making a move or looking at a new system. Make sure you and your team are very clear about the “why” first. Then move on to create a very specific list of the business problems you are trying to fix and outcomes you are looking for… DO NOT define the solution, that is what you want your provider to help you do. Some examples include:
- We would like to increase maintenance staff productivity by 25%.
- We need to improve our tenant service program and have real time, quantifiable metrics to prove its efficacy.
- We need to mitigate operational risk by making sure that no less than 100% of all current vendors have an active/up-to-date COI on file with us that meet our building’s requirements.
Next, share this list with your potential provider group and ask them to demonstrate how they and their solution will fix those problems. This is called a “Proof of Concept.” Work with them to define success criteria. You should choose the provider who best demonstrates how they’ll successfully solve those problems and make you a better company with their solution and supporting services.
Of course, there are certainly key attributes that any leading property management solution should offer and we’ve listed some of them here:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) provider
- Mobile Applications for engineers and property managers
- A tenant portal providing a terrific user experience (and offers online service requests, simple communication with management, resource scheduling, visitor pre-authorization, and a private access to the tenant handbook and building documents)
- Public property websites
- Work Order software
- Preventive maintenance
- Inspections (that can be completed from any mobile device and is completely integrated with work order and maintenance tasks)
- Certificate of Insurance Tracking
- Incident Reporting
- Easy notification and escalation system for managing tasks in real-time
- The ability to set service delivery standards, including required response times
- Accounting system integration
Just remember, these are simply the minimal capabilities a system should have; they are the tools. What you really need to understand is how they, and the company supporting them, will help you achieve your specific business improvement goals.