January 25, 2016 10:22AM

A Real Story on RealPage, a Real Robust Real Estate Tool. Really.

Recently, we helped a client implement RealPage OneSite Budgeting. As with any system-wide software solution, set up and implementation is an intense period for a company, and now that they are on the verge of the all-important “go-live” date, we thought we’d share our experience, as part of our commitment to bringing our clients the best-of-breed software solutions for their particular real estate needs.

For those who don’t know, RealPage is incredibly flexible, web-based property management software that specializes in residential real estate, including affordable housing, senior living, military housing, student housing, though it is also useful for mixed-use, conventional, and commercial real estate firms as well.

Our client is a satisfied Yardi user, but was looking for supplementary software to augment their budgeting and forecasting capability. Since RealPage integrates well with Yardi (and MRI, incidentally), and since it is highly customizable on a variety of levels, RealPage seemed the right choice for them.

One of the most challenging—but ultimately richly rewarding—aspects of this implementation was harnessing RealPage’s capability to incorporate pricing model data for each unit, as it is configured by Yardi (or, specifically in Yardi’s case, by RENTmaximizer). Imagine this client’s glee when they realized the extent to which the accuracy of their budgets and forecasts will be increased once they can account—precisely—for the individual market value of each individual unit!

Another significant challenge/reward for this client was configuring RealPage to account for their particular corporate structure and streamline their markedly complex budgeting process. At this firm, the budgeting process involves multiple departments (a revenue department, a marketing department, etc.) that must each submit their own budget to the property manager, who then has the important—but sometimes difficult—task of wrangling the disparate spreadsheets and calculating the various corporate expenses appropriately. Now, RealPage—which lives on the cloud (SAAS, or software-as-a-service)—provides asset managers with a real-time, birds’ eye view of their entire asset’s budgeting process, enabling them to get these pieces properly sequenced and validated, so that corporate expenses can be more accurately allocated in line with property expenses (utilities, miscellaneous, turnover, maintenance, etc.).

For a complex corporate entity like our client, where the corporate users and property managers alike spent countless hours and suffered regular headaches trying to manage convoluted workflows, RealPage’s built-in, SAAS-based workflow will leave these managers ecstatic: with a simple click of the mouse, they can check in on the status of a budget, approve it, comment on it, reject it, all while ensuring that everyone along the way is on the same page, and working with the same data (as appropriate).

Ecstatic glee doesn’t come immediately, however. In fact, as the consultants, one of the most vital roles we played in this implementation process was that of a bridge-builder: using our signature mix of technological know-how, market intelligence, and C-level insight to bridge the gap between top management’s expectations for portfolio performance and property management’s operational know-how to achieve budgets that function efficiently across the spectrum of users. Senior management, after all, doesn’t always realize the nitty gritty details required to make a system run smoothly; the staff implementing the software surely appreciated our ability to “translate” their arduous work to the upper levels, and often recognizing omissions or discrepancies along the way, errors-in-the-making that would have led to problems in the future.

The all-important Pilot phase is where all the hard work of implementation gets put to the test. Any remaining errors can be identified and corrected. Once this last hurdle is cleared, the client can go-live and the implementation can be considered complete. The real pay-off, however, will come during the next budgeting season, when the client is able to produce their most efficient, accurate, and flexible budgets in a fraction of the time they previously took.

That’s what we call a RealPage real success story. For more information on RealPage, check out their website here.