Making a decision about the software solution you use for your community association management company isn’t just about crunching numbers and pulling reports. Your software determines the workload of your management team, the customer service your homeowners receive, and the revenue opportunity your organization has to gain. That’s no business owner would take this decision lightly.
There are many questions one should be asking about software solutions as they are making their way through rounds of product demos and pricing conversations. But before you get down to the nitty gritty, there are eight questions you absolutely have to consider before moving forward with any software solution.
Question 1: How much does the software invest in ensuring your company and homeowner data is secure?
Why is this important: Your homeowners are providing you with some of the most personal data they have on themselves and their families. It’s imperative that you keep this data secure and private, and the cost of a data breach would lead to financial and legal devastation. You need to ensure that your software solution offers at the very least SOC 2 Compliance and a commitment to best practices in cybersecurity for their entire organization.
More Info: Insecurity: The Alarming Costs of Data Breaches in the Homeowner Space
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Question 2: How user intuitive is the software? Will it be easy for your homeowners to use?
Why is this important: If homeowners are inundating your management team with simple questions, like how to process a payment or how to submit a work order, your managers will never have time to support the needs of their boards. Not only will your managers suffer, but their clients will be frustrated with the lack of communication. Homeowner tools provided by your software solution should be a one-stop-shop product that is extremely easy to self manage, and the only thing your managers should have to do is ensure that their boards promote the tools appropriately.
More Info: Five Ways Software Can Reduce Burnout
Question 3: What tools does the software provide to enhance the homeowner experience, such as e-voting and amenities booking?
Why is this important: Homeowner engagement is consistently cited as the top concern amongst board members, community managers, and management company executives in our State of the Industry Report. Without engaged homeowners, the community as a whole suffers and little change is implemented to uphold the neighborhood. Tools such as e-voting and amenity booking features keep homeowners involved and excited to work with their fellow residents. It’s also a great selling point for management companies when talking with prospective clients.
More Info: 22 Ways to use the HOAst E-voting Platform
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Question 4: Can you reconcile your entire portfolio in one click or do you reconcile one HOA at a time?
Why is this important: Who has time to reconcile every association at a time?! Budget reconciliation should be a daily process that every management company can have completed with one button click. Not only is this a huge time saver, but it greatly reduces the chance of fraud and mismatched payments that can creep up on the accounting team at month-end.
More Info: How Integrated Accounting Helps Manage HOAs
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Question 5: How does the software make it easier for your employees? How do you plan on training them?
Why is this important: Employee retention is a huge challenge in community association management, and the software you use should only make their day-to-day easier. Processes need to be intuitive and mobile-first for community managers so that they can complete the bulk of their workload while visiting their properties. What’s more, it’s extremely important that the software solution you switch to provides you with a professional trainer for your team to guide them through the transition. Your team should have the time to know all the ins and outs of the new system and be guided in every step of the way, so that once you officially go live, you’re off and running without disruption.
More Info: Let’s Talk POPS (People Operations)
Question 6: How long is the average onboarding experience? Who do I work with on a regular basis to discuss my account needs and technical questions?
Why is this important: Switching software isn’t easy, but it shouldn’t disrupt your everyday business. It also shouldn’t take a painstakingly long time. The average onboarding period in professional organizations is about 90 days, so anyone who tells you longer should be a red flag. Software providers should also ensure you have a dedicated project manager, someone who will transfer homeowner data for you, and a full team to train you on accounting and property management solutions.
More Info: Switching Software Should Never Disrupt
Question 7: How does the software ensure you are capturing all the ancillary revenue you could be receiving?
Why is this important: A strong software solution isn’t a sunk cost. It should actually be driving revenue for your company. Whether it’s through addendum billing or accounts payable processes, there are many revenue streams available to you through superior technology. When discussing your software solution options with a potential partner, they should be able to highlight for you ways in which you can generate more revenue after making the switch.
More Info: Four Reasons Why Management Companies Don’t Grow
Question 8: How has the software evolved and grown in the last decade? Can it continue to grow with you?
Why is this important: There are many CAM software solutions that haven’t updated any systems in decades. There are also many in startup mode. Neither of these solutions will be able to grow at the pace needed for a sophisticated management company. Executives need to ensure that the software solution they choose for their organization can grow with them. Companies that aren’t innovating product offerings now probably won’t innovate any time soon, and companies that are just getting started in the industry won’t have enough capital to keep up with expenses, meaning that their innovations will dry up fast.
We hope that this information will better support you in your software buying journey, and for a more detailed review of all of the considerations needed in CAM solutions, read up on our Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
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