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Technology solutions to aid process documentation

Alex Gallia
Content writer, Process Street

At its core, property management is all about communication, and there is plenty of room for improvement.

Interactions with property owners, tenants, vendors and employees need to be coordinated with efficiency and professionalism in order to keep everything running smoothly and enable growth in a market that is only getting more competitive.

“Communication can easily become chaos if not handled correctly,” said Nick D’Agnillo, CEO and founder of Nexus Property Management. “Between phone calls, text messages, emails, and walk-in traffic, it can be hard to keep tenants, owners and staff on the same page. Documentation is very important to avoid miscommunication.”

The extent of human interaction that is integral to property management creates a large margin for human error. Poor lead management, records of calls/emails, inspection coordination, tenant screening and maintenance work orders are just a few examples of tasks that are difficult to execute consistently without formal process documentation and the assistance of workflow software that makes the documentation actionable for your team.

As a result, property management firms are beginning to place a greater focus on improving business efficiency by formally documenting their processes and integrating workflow software. This enables them to deliver their clients a superior service, while also providing employees with the tools they need to perform at their best.

In this article, we’re taking a look at four key areas of property management that can and should be optimized with the use of simple workflow software.

But first, it’s important to mention how much the real estate software market has grown in recent years to highlight the need for modernization. The tremendous growth over the past decade or so is a clear sign that creating a modern, automated system for documenting processes is an absolute must for today’s property management agencies.

According to recent reports, the total investment in real estate tech has ballooned from $33 million in 2010 to more than $5 billion in 2017. That is nothing short of astounding, especially when you consider the market’s volatility over the past few years.

Furthermore, market research analysis conducted by Research N Reports claims that the increasing need for accurate process documentation is a key driver of property management software adoption.

In short, technology is driving the evolution of property management, and market players need to keep up if they want any hope of setting themselves apart from the competition.

• Optimizing four key areas of property management. You likely already use a property management software platform like Appfolio, Buildium or Propertyware.

By pairing such a tool with workflow software, you can easily document your processes and make them actionable so your team can be more productive.

Why is a combination better than one or the other? Because while your primarily property management tool will remain the central data repository, workflow software enables managers to track the progress of various processes in real time, while offering features that streamline communication and provide leasing agents with a formal procedure to follow.

The following are four areas of property management that can and should be optimized through formal documentation and the integration of workflow software:

• Communication with property owners and tenants;

• Tracking core processes like lease renewals, inspections, move-ins and move-outs;

• Coordinating travel for leasing agents and maintenance workers; and

• Streamlining accounting processes.

What workflow software does is provide you with a centralized system designed to help facilitate the setup, execution and tracking of your workflows. Each of those steps can be easily applied to the four core processes mentioned above.

• Setup. This initial phase also can be referred to as process documentation. By mapping out and creating actionable workflows for various processes, property management firms establish a consistent and effective method for their team to follow internal procedures properly.

• Execution. Once a workflow has been documented, specific tasks can be assigned to team members who can then get to work without delay and easily collaborate with other team members if necessary.

• Tracking. This is both from an individual and managerial perspective. Employees have a clear view of their current and upcoming tasks, while managers can see the “big picture” of workflow progression and leverage real-time data to continuously refine processes.

In conclusion, the property management industry is in the process of a digital transformation. Considering the nature of it being heavily dependent on human interaction, this need for modernization creates a number of challenges that come with the opportunity to greatly improve business efficiency.

In order to integrate sophisticated software tools without sacrificing high quality customer service, agencies need to take the time to test various vendors and train all team members during the transition period so current processes are not disrupted.

By taking the time to fully understand the software and train employees, the long-term benefits will be much more noticeable.

Featured in CREJ’s July 2019 Property Management Quarterly

Edited by the Colorado Real Estate Journal staff.