It’s not enough to choose which real estate software system your business will use, purchase and install it, and expect things to work smoothly. Instead, you will need an ongoing plan to maintain your system, head off small problems before they become big problems, and troubleshoot issues and questions as they arise.
Real estate businesses are complex operations, and each one works slightly differently. Therefore, you will most likely be making use of various customizations and add-ons to ensure that your chosen tool meets your business needs perfectly. These systems can become unwieldy and can create additional problems unless you take steps to support and protect them.
In this article, we outline how to maintain and support your real estate software system to protect your investment and ensure maximum functionality.
Working out which areas require the most maintenance or problem-solving
The first step in creating a suitable maintenance plan is ascertaining which elements of your software solution require the most in terms of upkeep, troubleshooting, and problem-solving.
Do you receive similar questions from your team members over and over again? If so, that’s a sign that an aspect of your software has an issue that needs to be addressed. The fix might be as simple as implementing some additional training or creating a workaround for the problem. On the other hand, it might require more extensive maintenance, perhaps with support from your IT team or an external real estate software consultancy.
You should also pay attention to modules and tasks within the software that are worked on infrequently. If something is being used every day, problems will be identified quickly. On the other hand, less frequently used items such as monthly or quarterly closes and budgeting tools might have issues that go unnoticed until you need to use them again. And the last thing you need is a major software problem at crunch time.
Finally, pay particularly close attention when your software provider launches updates. The documentation for a seemingly routine update can run hundreds of pages and, unless someone on your team is going through it with a fine-tooth comb, you might not realize the impact an update will have until it is causing major problems for your business.
Create a plan for supporting your software, team, and operations when you get stuck
Everyone on your team should know exactly what to do when a problem with the software arises. This means you need to have a clear plan and an easy-to-follow process. Your employees should know when they should attempt to troubleshoot a problem themselves, and at what point they should escalate the issue (and to whom).
There are two main areas of consideration to keep in mind as you create this plan:
Impact on the Customer
Software issues can impact customer notifications, alerts, ticket requests, and more. If you’re not careful, this can create a serious decrease in the quality of service your customers receive. And unhappy customers are the quickest path to lost revenue and a damaged company reputation.
Ensuring that you install software updates in a timely and efficient manner can improve the customer experience significantly. We always recommend getting expert guidance when installing updates, because they can create unforeseen additional issues if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
When you make upgrades and carry out maintenance, be sure to consider the timing and factor in any unnecessary downtime. Always minimize disruption to customers if possible. If disruption to regular services is unavoidable, advise your customers ahead of time.
Impact on the Project or Investment
Troubleshooting can be an arduous process, particularly if the property manager or real estate owner-operator does not have an internal support team who can handle problems and software maintenance. In the worst-case scenario, tickets raised directly to the software vendor can take days to address, which can slow down operations and accounting, sometimes bringing your business to a standstill. This can have an enormous and cascading impact on your bottom line.
As you can see, it is critical to have a plan in place. While ongoing maintenance will help, it is impossible to completely eliminate software problems from your business. But being prepared will minimize their negative impact on your business when they do occur.
Look for the right skills and credentials in your experts
If you run a medium to large business, chances are you’ll have (or want to hire) internal software or technology experts. If you want to get the most out of your real estate software investment, it’s vital that these people have the right skills and attributes. But what should you look for?
First, make sure you understand exactly what you need. Before you open for applications, ensure that the job description and person specification are as clear and precise as they can be. Qualifications matter, and you may well look for someone with a degree or professional qualification in a particular area.
However, in this space, practical experience matters just as much, if not more. Ask your applicants about the systems and modules they have used. What software version were they working on? Have they gone through an upgrade or system conversion in the past? What tough situations have they handled, and what software issues have they successfully resolved?
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a good culture fit. This doesn’t mean hiring someone who is exactly like everyone else (which can lead to homogeneous teams and a lack of racial and gender diversity), but hiring someone who understands and aligns with your mission and values.
What if you can’t hire an internal expert?
As mentioned above, you can usually open a support ticket directly with the software provider, though wait times can be notoriously long (days, sometimes even weeks). You’ll get the answers you need, but you might not solve the underlying problem. If you can hire an expert directly, that’s usually a great way to ensure daily business needs and troubleshooting are met.
Hiring an internal software expert won’t be the right fit for every business. This might be due to budgetary constraints or simply because there isn’t enough day-to-day work to justify a full-time staff member.
If this sounds like your business, then working with an external consultancy like REdirect could be the answer. REdirect’s Assist team has helped thousands of Yardi and MRI Software end users solve their software problems, allowing them to focus on what they do best.
If you go through busy periods where you need lots of support, followed by quieter periods where you need less, a consultancy can work with those peaks and valleys. Your goal should be to create a holistic and streamlined experience for your team, customers, and business so that everyone knows how to get the answers they need when urgent questions arise.
If you’d like some additional guidance on how the right support can help you protect your software investment, reach your business goals, and stand out in all the right ways, then get in touch with a member of the REdirect team today.