Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Eight Simple Rules for Assessing New Software

Friday, June 12th, 2009

 Your current real estate property management software, which has served you well in years past, has now run its course and is clearly unable to support the demands of enterprise real estate management. At some point, the only option is to upgrade, David Slade of Davmark explains.

“Industry-wide, more and more real estate data is managed using software, and the system that has been your friend for all those years can no longer handle all the new tracking, reporting, and transparency requirements that your business demands.”  “Your bottom line is starting to suffer for it. What’s more, your competitors are already sizing up cutting-edge solutions and many have already upgraded. Sticking with your existing system would be like riding a horse and carriage in a high speed car race, and that’s too high a price to pay for loyalty.”

Once the need to upgrade is acknowledged, the big question is, “Which system will improve efficiencies, minimise risk, maximise returns and improve my competitive edge, and client services, all at a reasonable price?”

Initial research will reveal that the most advanced software packages feature fully integrated solutions that consolidate portfolio, financial, lease, and other information into one database, giving all network users instant, secure access. That means a new suite of tools can help you maximize efficiencies and accuracy, streamline workflow, mitigate risk, create transparency for users and investors, improve communications among stakeholders, and deliver enterprise-wide solutions.

Continued growth and increased revenues are critical to your business, upgrading therefore represents the smart strategic move. All that remains is to follow eight simple rules to make your purchase and subsequent upgrade smooth, profitable, and trauma-free:

1. Plan ahead

The complexity of software systems means it’s critical to approach implementation in a comprehensive manner. Creating a viable roadmap with a clearly defined purpose and anticipated outcome will minimize disruption to your operations. That involves defining and prioritizing your technical and functional requirements, and separating need-to-have features from nice-to-haves. Also, seek expert advice. Admit you don’t know everything and ask the hard questions: What should I upgrade, and why? What are all the options, and which best meet my needs? Should I implement in phases or all at once?

2. Evaluate potential suppliers

Who has the best record of success? Who offers the best value for your money? Who’s well-established, financially stable, and experienced in the real estate industry? When you ask how much disruption, training, and other adjustments a new system entails, do you get straight answers? Do any of your candidates have a history of making midstream changes to the implementation scope or cost estimate? And, most important, as technology advances continue unabated in this industry, who can act as your technology partner as your business needs expand?

3. Prioritise low risk

Keep in mind that well-designed management systems diminish risk in multiple ways. Comprehensive system transparency gives managers a complete picture of investment activity across their portfolios, helping them anticipate and avoid high-risk situations. Such transparency is within your reach. For example, dashboards can improve asset management by offering every real estate practitioner—from property and maintenance managers to top executives—an unprecedented degree of operational visibility. Likewise, automation of accounting processes eliminates errors common to outdated accounting practices, such as multiple spreadsheets and manual data entry, and provides accurate, up-to-date information for reliable risk analysis.

4. Seek versatility

Your upgrade might well need to handle remote users, multiple real estate market segments, differing investment types, a diverse array of clients, different sets of accounting rules, multinational portfolios, and other complex requirements of your business. Also, can the software scale to meet your needs as they grow? How flexible is the software in terms of ability to configure or customize?

5. How deep can I drill?

First-rate real estate software systems allow drill-down into financial data and review of accounting practices at the transaction level. Always important, this capability has assumed new urgency with Sarbanes-Oxley requirements and increased scrutiny of corporate practices. The most advanced software solutions on the market take these factors into account and track every aspect of even the most complex transactions.

6. Hosting—your place or mine?

Are your IT staff up to handling the complex new software? If not, consider choosing a supplier that offers application hosting services. Many client companies consider this choice much more cost-effective than maintaining their own IT network infrastructure and handling licensing, disaster recovery, network security, and so on.

7. Consider external stakeholders’ viewpoints

Which solutions enable you to provide the best reporting and services to your tenants, suppliers, and investors? Remember, your competitive edge is driven by more than best operating practices. Other key factors include your ability to provide online access for tenant rent payment and ledgers, electronic payables and investor reporting, as well as impressive, dynamic marketing presentation on your website for availability, online application and leasing. Choosing the right solution will drive solid business performance, service, and transparency; it will also shape the perception of you among clients and prospects as a technologically advanced, reliable, and efficient business. The more dynamic your new system, the more you’ll be appreciated by its users and stakeholders, both internally and externally.

8. Prepare your employees, brief your clients

It’s important to remember that rolling out a new enterprise-level software requires time and resources commensurate with the size and scope of your business. Furthermore, your users might also be comfortable with and loyal to your old system, making change management essential for a smooth adoption. Educate them about the advantages of a new system and help them understand how it will improve business and enhance their daily routine. Alerting your stakeholders about your new system and how it will create a better experience for them will also build enthusiasm for the project.

Plan carefully and do all of these things, accept that a new system implementation will require time, resources, and change management, and your implementation should roll out with a minimum of hassle. For assistance with assessing your new enterprise management system, talk to Davmark