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Mythbusting: The Real Estate Software Solution Edition

October 21, 2015 1:57 PM By Faraz Memon

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For many real estate investment and management firms considering investing in a real estate management platform, the cost and commitment of such a robust, system-wide investment—to say nothing of the requisite implementation process—can be foreboding. To minimize the dread—and perhaps even defray some costs—far too many succumb to some common feel good myths.

While we don’t relish the role of bursting anyone’s bubble, we do take pride in the fact that we always deliver the truth, even if it is difficult to hear. (We haven’t become successful trusted advisors for hundreds of real estate property and investment management firms because we are pretty liars, after all.)

So, in the REdirect tradition of truth-telling and sagacious advice-giving, this blog’s intent is to shatter these myths of false comfort and to help you establish realistic expectations:

Myth #1: The new real estate software solution is going to save us tons of time and money… this quarter.

The first part of this sentence is absolutely, unquestionably true; it is that latter, post-ellipsis bit that is slightly problematic.

Once fully implemented, a state-of-the-art property management software solution like MRI or Yardi will streamline your work, reduce the risk of error, eliminate redundancies, and maximize profits. As groundbreaking and advanced as these software solutions are, they are not magic bullets, and they do not come “out of the box” ready to go. The cold, hard truth is that configuring these complex systems to meet the particular needs of your company, your people, and your assets can be a long, slow process. After the trainings, after the tabletop exercises, and after that all-critical test period, that first month after “go-live” can still be fraught with problems. The fact is that these systems take time to learn, though with the right trusted advisor guiding your way, this learning curve can be greatly expedited. Even still, you cannot expect to reap the financial benefits of this investment immediately.

Myth #2: Our IT department can handle the implementation.

Underestimating the human resources required for implementing mission-critical software is a common pitfall of property management companies across the country, and often with long-lasting effects. (For more on this, check out our ebook, “Avoid These 5 Costly Real Estate Management Pitfalls.”)

In reality, software implementation is a fairly complex and somewhat difficult process that could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the needs, strengths, and weaknesses of your particular company. With all due respect to your IT team, the solution to implementing your software solution isn’t strictly a technical one. Learning how to use this robust database and getting it configured to meet the reporting needs of your investors and managers takes as much industry know-how as it does with IT prowess.

For us, the best implementation cases have been with firms that appoint an implementation liaison on their team to work hand-in-glove with us, the consultants. This small but critical delegation strategy establishes a clear line of communication, ensures that the whole firm stays on top of the implementation process, and helps everyone meet deadlines and stay on budget. To believe that such a company-wide project is solely a task for the IT department, or that it can be entirely managed by outside consultants, is a misguided notion that will ultimately cost your company more money—and everyone more headaches—in the end.

Myth #3: And if we still have questions, we have vendor support.

As we recently discussed on this blog, the good folks over at Yardi and MRI are informational powerhouses and real estate property and investment management game changers: the software systems that they created have literally changed—and continue to change—the game. But the inherent limits of any particular software preclude it from solving 100% of the possible scenarios at every company, and thus, they can’t always solve all of your company’s business challenges and obstacles.

Vendor support goes a long way toward dealing with most common challenges, but it doesn’t go all the way. Read this recent case study to see how an independent consultant, like REdirect, can help fill the void.

Myth #4: Google can find us the best software solution, and the best consultants to help implement it.

As Pereview Software CEO Jeff Wilson and his EVP Matt Rosen once wrote, “Contrary to your instincts, hold off on Googling providers. The goal is to find the provider that matches your needs, not retrofitting your needs to match a provider.” They go on to offer a helpful selection process plan to guide you in evaluating and choosing the best system.

In the similar vein, Google is not necessarily the best tool to find the consultants to help you implement it. Keep in mind that what worked for one firm may not be the best fit for yours.

In choosing the right team to help guide yours through the implementation process, there are five key questions you need to consider, and—spoiler alert—whether or not they had a paid Google ad is not one of them.

Myth #5: We’ve been running <insert property management software solution here> for years. We don’t need outside consultants.

Perhaps you implemented Yardi or MRI several years ago. And while the memory of implementation seems all too fresh, you and your team use the core modules with the ease and fluency of the seasoned pros you are.

But what about all those other bells and whistles that likely sold you on the software years ago? If you’re a Yardi user, are you utilizing Correspondence Management? Fully taking advantage of Automated Notifications functions? How about Property Attributes? For MRI users, we pose the same question to you: Are you leveraging MRI’s customization toolkit? What about its incredibly powerful Budgeting & Forecasting module? Automated notifications?

If you’ve been ignoring some of these key functions, a Customized Gap Analysis can identify ways big and small that you can optimize your current software and ensure ROI.

Keep in mind, too, that just as your business has likely evolved over the past few years, so should your software. Those “bells and whistles” you implemented when “Millennials” were still in college may not be optimized for your current portfolio. More than simply adapt to the needs of your company today, your software system should—and can—accommodate future strategic directions it might take. Let us show you how.

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Embarking on the journey to implement—or upgrade—your real estate property or investment management software is an exciting venture. Even if the “cold, hard” facts exposed in this mythbusting exercise have redefined your expectations, the reality is your expectations can still be pretty high. For even more truth-telling and sage advice about plotting your next technological upgrade, we hope you consider contacting us.