When I’m meeting with new prospective clients (as well as when friends see my LinkedIn profile!), one of the questions that often come up is “What is Yardi implementation consulting?” People also tend to wonder why a client would need an implementation consultant rather than just self-implementing. I recall a client once asked how this would be different from buying and setting up QuickBooks, which they had done before. The best way I can answer that question is by connecting them with others who were in their shoes and can explain what a system implementation involves.
Over the years, as Yardi and other property management systems have expanded their offerings, they have evolved into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools that require a full system implementation approach, at least if you want to be sure you fully leverage your investment and are able to process and report as anticipated.
What does a typical system implementation involve?
We start with a business process review (BPR) where we gain an understanding of the client’s business—both from a current-state perspective as well as the future-state goals and requirements. Beginning with the end in mind, we use this knowledge as we build the project plan and roadmap for the implementation. This blueprint is a key to a successful implementation.
We then conduct core team training, which allows the core team members to gain a working knowledge of the system—both in terms of processes and standard reporting tools and options. The team uses this foundational knowledge in the next step of solution design—making decisions on setup and configuration.
In most cases, a client will want to migrate data from the prior system of record. As part of the scoping and then design process, our conversion experts work with the client to develop the data conversion plan, which includes the data points to be converted, how much data history to bring over, and the mapping of data from the old system to Yardi.
With the design and planning phases substantially complete, we work with the client to build out the system with configuration and population of data, including the data conversion. This ushers in the pilot period, which includes functional testing of the system as well as data validation.
We highly recommend a conference room pilot: a short but intense period of testing of all business processes and comparing to the prior system both in terms of data and functional processes. Should there be a need for custom reporting, the goal would be to have those reports complete by this point. At the end of the pilot process we conduct a final user acceptance testing whereby the client can confirm readiness for the live conversion.
The live conversion is essentially a repeat of the pilot migration, though often on a larger set of data. Clients sometimes choose to roll out properties in phases, depending on requirements of the business. This conversion usually involves a go-dark period where the old system is frozen to allow for the conversion. A client will often use this time for final end user training as well.
We then assist with go-live support and beyond, based on the client’s specific needs. This often includes hand-holding users through first-time processing, troubleshooting issues, and providing additional spot training and documentation as needed.
The implementation process doesn’t need to be a burden
We work to be flexible based on client needs in all areas, and as such can take on a very heavy role with significant hands-on support. Some clients prefer a more hands-off advisory arrangement where we take an approach of providing guidance. Understanding the client’s budget and resource constraints allows us to plan out our role accordingly.
Back to the original question—could a client do it without Yardi implementation consulting? While I have seen a few clients do this successfully over the past 15 years, it typically requires an internal Yardi resource (such as a CFO) who has significant experience with Yardi and is able to drive the design and management of the project. That Yardi expert needs to be able to dedicate significant time to the project. It also requires internal resources who are sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced and are able to dedicate a large portion of their time to this project.
Many clients have come to us after trying to self-implement, asking for help in cleaning up the mess of the conversion, tying out their books, and redesigning their processes. Because the implementation is typically a one-time event, most organizations are not designed to absorb the type and level of work required. REdirect lives and breathes Yardi implementation consulting! We look forward to partnering with your organization and right-sizing our offering for you.