In early 2022, CINC conducted a survey of community managers, management company executives, and board members throughout the country, with the goal of determining the State of the Community Association Management Industry. The feedback and responses indicated several common interests amongst community association trustee boards, including acquiring highly-specialized (but potentially unnecessary) technology.
The community association management industry has traditionally focused on a few key areas for the last several decades. Topics like the cost of business, competitor tracking, and recruitment have held the attention of management companies, while concerns such as homeowner apathy and delinquency rates have typically plagued community associations.
These areas were high on the lists for both groups in CINC’s 2022 State of the Industry survey, but one other topic stood out among board members’ interests: advanced technology.
Right Motivation, Wrong Situation
Historically speaking, technology is an area where community associations have trailed far behind the curve. There are a lot of speculative reasons for why that is, from board reluctance due to limited time and budget, to cost, to just the general aversion to learning new technology we all inevitably face. So to see high-end, highly-specified technology tools listed as desires for board members was quite surprising!
It all came down to community preservation, and keeping residents safe and happy. Here were three of the answers that really stood out among the rest:
- Intelligent Mail Barcodes to ensure accurate mail delivery
- Thermal imaging cameras for leak investigations
- Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to regulate AC and save energy
These are so unique and inventive–especially considering most communities are still reluctant to adopt technology basics, let alone tools that ensures that the post office delivers more efficiently!
But while it was great to see such a strong interest in new technology, it seems that boards might be focused on the wrong areas when it comes to supporting their residents.
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Building a Strong Foundation
When asked what kind of technology boards would like to use that they don’t currently have in place, 15% listed communication, a crucial component in community success, as one of those needs. Access control, another necessity, came in at nearly 20%, as did fire suppression technology. All of these have the potential to go above and beyond, but their core functions are the basics of a quality residential experience in your community.
So what’s the difference? What makes fire suppression technology more important than energy conservation or leak awareness? How is intelligent mail NOT the same as communication?
In an ideal world, all of these tools would be in every community–because it is true that they overlap in many ways. But that overlap is exactly where the issues arise.
When it comes to seeking out new technology for your community association, the most important consideration should be the result you want to achieve rather than the task you want to complete.
This is because operating on a task-oriented basis can create issues like data or communication silos, or duplicated costs/efforts. For instance, something like a leak locator could absolutely be beneficial, but the cost might not be worth the output. Ideally, your community is already doing something to seek out those leaks: routine maintenance, annual property assessments, and a reserve analysis every few years, just to name a few. Each of these tasks should warrant the same answer, or at least keep the community informed about when pipes may begin to leak.
Finding solutions designed to generate a specific result typically helps you find tools that serve multiple masters, or achieve a goal using a variety of approaches rather than a single focus.
3 Results-Driven Tools Your Community Needs
Using results as the motivation for your community, here are 3 modern technological marvels that your community should be considering for 2022 and beyond:
A Tool to Simplify Community Finances
The board’s fiduciary duty is a critical component of board membership, and financial responsibility is no easy task. Utilize a tool that offers important financial necessities like daily reconciliation, accessible financial reporting, and lockbox services. Boards should also consider a tool that offers a comprehensive banking integration to truly add simplicity to your financial awareness for your community.
A Tool to Streamline Community Maintenance
The long-term health of a community is more important now than ever before, but that doesn’t mean community maintenance tracking is suddenly a breeze. Communities still working without visibility into the community’s maintenance needs or the ability to manage work orders quickly and easily should make a tool with these features a priority.
A Tool to Increase Community Engagement
Community engagement is the clearest example of results vs tasks. Engagement with your community results from combining tasks like phone or mail communication and creating self-help options using access control. A communications tool should offer homeowner document access, multiple types of direct communication functions like email sending and tracking, platform messaging, and call logging just to name a few.
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Building the Basics and Beyond
If your community already utilizes these results-oriented technology tools, you’re ahead of the game! And if you’re still thinking about bringing on more specialized technology, make sure that it’s for the right reasons. Take time to evaluate the success and general functionality of the tools you already have in place and the reasons you’re looking to take on new tech.
If you find that it’s because there are gaps in your current platform or because your current technology isn’t performing the way your community expected or needs, hold off on bringing in new players. Consider first switching providers for your core technology to find a better fit before adding on more. Building atop a bad foundation is a surefire way to create problems long-term.
Whether you’re looking to start your community’s technology journey off on the right foot, or need to find a new technology partner that better fits your needs, CINC Systems is here to help. Click here to learn more about how CINC can support communities through powerful technology.
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