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Time to Switch: Knowing When and How to Change Property Management Software

Megan Thomas
April 29, 2024

Each year, hundreds of property management companies make the decision to change their property management software. We caught up with CEO and Founder of Pivotal Impact Consulting, Marcus Wilson, to learn more about what drives the decision to change and what companies can do to ensure the smoothest transition possible with the delivered results they expect:

The Decision to Change

There can be many factors into why change is needed, but some factors carry more weight than others. No matter what, a change should be about improving your business and better enabling your teams to provide even more value to your residents. Here are the factors that should impact your decision-making the most:

  • Functionality and Usability – Is your current software making tasks easier for you and your teams? How long do tasks take for your team to complete with your software? Compare your software to other platforms with this in mind.
  • New Strategy or Company Identity – A key driver for changing software, new business strategies can easily change the needs of your company and especially your various software users. Does your new strategy require more out of your software? Is there something your current platform does to hinder the success of your newly implemented strategies?
  • Flexibility and Integrations – Is your current software providing flexibility when it comes to integrations with solutions your teams need? How difficult is it to integrate with other necessary solutions?  

These are generally great reasons to switch software, but you should be careful if your reasons for switching are driven by any of the following:  

  • Impulsive Reactions – Making the decision to change without careful and strategic consideration.
  • Following Trends or Vendor Hype – It's easy to do what everyone else is doing. That doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your company.
  • Overemphasis on Features – The features can look good and sound nice but are they going to get you where you want to go?
  • Budget Constraints – Going the cheapest route possible to save money poses the question: Is saving in the short-term going to cost you in the long term? Ultimately, you will get what you pay for almost every time.
  • Personal Preferences – Your familiarity of or bias toward a certain product does not equate to benefiting the entire company.
  • Sunk Costs – The sunk costs of what you’ve spent with your current provider does not justify holding onto a product that is no longer working for your company.
  • Ignoring User Input – Making decisions without the consideration of the staff who will also use this solution. This also creates friction with buy-in and may drive other hard and soft costs like the need for additional staff and lost efficiency.

Evaluating Your Options

If you are curious about other software solutions and how they compare to your current provider, remember that the actual switching of solutions will require buy-in from the top down. Executives, regional managers and on-site staff will all need to see the value of a change in software as well as its alignment with the company’s strategies. As you demo other solutions, you’re going to want to keep certain criteria at the forefront of your evaluation process:

  1. Pros and Cons - Identify the pros and cons of your current software. Compare this to other solutions. Other solutions should exceed the value of your current software to make a switch worth it.
  1. Enhancements and Capabilities - Consider the development and ongoing improvement of your software versus solutions. Enhancements and product roadmaps can be insightful in your evaluation. Be sure to ask about integration capabilities.
  1. Distracting, Shiny Objects - Fancy features do not necessarily equate to being the best fit for your properties or your users. Consider the need-to-have before you consider the nice-to-have.
  1. UI/UX - The user experience and interface of a solution will impact training, buy-in from users and staff, and overall productivity onsite. It should be easy to use and adopt, especially given the industry's high turnover rate.
  1. Data accessibility – Be sure to find out who owns the data and whether your teams will be able to easily access it.
  1. Industry or Customer Feedback – Talk to multiple customers about their experience working with certain software. You can tell a lot about a solution and a provider simply by how their users and customers talk about them behind closed doors.
  1. Price Point – This is the last thing to evaluate: consider the overall NOI in comparison to other solutions. With the right provider, a cost upfront can easily result in more revenue in the long run.

Best Practices for Implementation

So, you’ve found a solution that ticks all the necessary boxes and solves the problems of your current solution, resulting in the decision to switch. Implementation is typically the dreaded part of changing core platforms and not without reason. While it will require work, there are tips and tricks to make the switch as smooth as possible:

  • Choose a project manager – you can hire an external PM or keep it in-house. Regardless, this should be someone who holds the soft skills of great time management, communication and attention to detail. It’s important to understand that the provider’s project manager is focused on getting your new system set up correctly in their software. Their focus is not on managing your internal team to get the deliverables needed for implementation, and this is why having your own PM is important.  
  • Dedicate a team for support – Your PM will lead the cause, but not without the support of internal staff, especially for a portfolio level change. Consider who you need from accounting, marketing, and/or operations to get the necessary tasks done. Recognize that having a bigger support team will make it easier to distribute the workload and ensure you meet deadlines.
  • Focus on data quality and process improvements – A critical step in ensuring a smooth transition is to make sure the data being migrated to the new system is comprehensive and accurate. Garbage in garbage out really applies here. Also, moving to a new system presents a great opportunity to revisit processes and consider ways to make them more efficient – including through centralization.  
  • Schedule adequate training – This should happen ahead of your go-live date. Thorough training creates a real understanding of its use and prepares staff to hit the ground running.  
  • Consider a pilot phase – For larger organizations, piloting a new software with a few properties for a short period of time provides the opportunity to make system optimization changes ahead of time, rather than after an entire portfolio rollout.

As you consider a change to your property management system, remember to focus on understanding “why” the change is needed. Be thorough in your evaluation with a focus on what is needed to address that “why”. Once you’ve made your decision and move toward implementation, you will best position yourself for success with the right project management and team structure, attention to data quality, process improvement opportunities, and adequate training.

Watch the full on-demand webinar with Marcus Wilson here.

If you’re interested in ResMan as a software provider for your daily operations, book a demo to see the product up close. 

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