It used to be that in order to manage your properties, be it apartments, mobile homes, or office space, each of the managers would have to store the data on their own machines either on software built for that purpose or with an assortment of personal databases and/or spreadsheets. In order for a central office to be able to view that information or do any sort of reporting, the individual managers would have to mail a floppy disk to the central office, or, as things became more advanced, email or ftp that information. IT Managers hoped that the property managers were backing up their software in case of computer crashes, but never actually knowing if that was occurring or if the backups were valid. Among the other problems that were sure to occur in these scenarios were differing versions of the software, being tied down to a specific operating system, being tied down to a specific computer (the one with the installation), and difficulty correcting problems in the data from a remote location.
I talk about those things as if they are archaic when, in fact, many companies still rely upon these decentralized programs and databases and outdated methods to manage their properties.
Recently, however, companies that wrote these personal solutions have begun to develop centralized solutions based on web servers. And they are not the only ones. Intense competition from Internet startups with savvy web developers backed by knowledgeable property managers and property management companies have appeared, sometimes overnight.
Is it worth it to try one of these out? What does it buy you?
Whether you go with a proven player in the property management software market or a program written by a fledgling company, moving to an Application Service Provider (ASP) most likely provides you with the following important concepts. This list is by no means all-inclusive.
Centralized Data and Software
With data in one location, you can ensure backups happen on all of the properties as many times as you deem necessary. You no longer have to worry about whether your managers are backing up data.
With data in one location, you can run reports on all of the properties at the same time without waiting for managers to mail or email you their data. You can even view these reports with real-time data.
All of your manager’s machines are always running the most up-to-date version, and the ASP doesn’t have to take time building and testing the patches to make sure they patch the program properly on all supported operating systems. They can just make and test the changes on their own servers, and move those changes to where the property managers themselves can use the modifications.
Data fixes do not require the data to be zipped up and sent to the programming company, nor do they require access into your computers or networks.
Versatility and Convenience
No more are the days when you have to buy the Windows version, the Mac version, or, if you are especially daring, trying to get the version of the software to work with the flavor of Unix or Linux that you have selected. If done properly, property management software will run on any of the more popular web browsers on any environment you choose.
You no longer need to bring the computer with you that has the installation on it. You can access your properties from any library, school, Internet café, home, or work location at which you find yourself, as long as you have a connection to the Internet.
How many property managers honestly want to pay a team of IT professionals to manage all of the software and its upgrades at all of their properties?
There is really no need to keep using antiquated alternatives. If the convenience of easy access from anywhere using any web browser doesn’t provide enough of an incentive, the easy and less expensive management and real-time statistics and reporting should. Take a look at some of the choices in online property management software today, and see how easy managing your properties can be.
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