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Renters in America

Property Management Software: Making the Leap

If you’re considering moving to a professional property management software system, here are some factors to consider before deciding.

First, this is never an easy thing to accomplish, and it will probably take longer than you anticipate. The reward comes later when you start benefiting from the efficiencies you gain. I think some key points to consider are:

  • Is the software system adaptable to your business or will you adapt your business to how the software works?
  • What is the typical learning curve and integration time?
  • What customer service resources are available?
  • What is the cost of the system compared to your company size?
  • Will this be a desktop version or cloud-based system?
  • Is it scalable for future growth?
  • Is this an open platform system that allows integration with other systems?

I chose a system that was adaptable to how I work since I didn’t want to reinvest my time in implementing new processes and disrupt my current operations. This probably cost me more time up front to configure it, but I now know how I can adapt as my business grows and changes. Since I am a one-person operation, the integration time took longer than most.

Larger companies can dedicate resources to bringing this onboard faster and can work with the developer to progress through workflow issues and implementation. It took me about eight months to make the final switch and feel comfortable with the accounting part, which is longer than I wanted. In the meantime, I ran both systems to make sure the numbers were right.

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Customer service

Customer service will be a big part of the startup phase. How does the company offer their support services? Are they included or optional as an add-on? Are they by phone or only online? In my opinion, the more assistance they provide and the faster they provide it, the better.

Don’t forget to check with your other chapter members on what they use as well. I got some great insight from other users before choosing. You can also request access to the user groups on Facebook to see what users are asking about and the issues with which they are dealing.


I found that cost can vary depending on the size of your company. Do they charge by user or by doors or some other method? The days of a one-and-done payment are long gone.

You will most likely be paying a monthly or yearly fee. Even QuickBooks and Microsoft do this now. Don’t forget to check on what is actually included and what will be add-ons. Think about how big your company will eventually be for future planning as well. Will the system be capable of growing with you or will you outgrow it and have to migrate to another system down the road and do it all over again?

Data access

When it comes to choosing whether to have a desktop version or cloud-based system, I was given a choice by the company. I was not an early adopter of cloud-based systems to begin with, as I was not comfortable with the possible security issues. After looking at the options, I finally went with the cloud-based system. To be able to access your data in the field and make real-time changes can be a real time saver. I spend most of my time out of the office, so being able to make those changes when I’m out saves me time at the end of the day. As far as security goes these days, I don’t think anybody is invincible to hacking or intrusions, so I was willing to let them handle that part of the risk. Of course, the downside to this is if you have no internet, you need to have a manual backup system to go back to, at least temporarily.

With over 1 million apartments, houses, condos, and townhomes for rent, there’s plenty of options to choose from on

Having an open platform for data access, or Application Programming Interface (API), will be a big plus in future software development. The ability to have integration partners access your data will lead to even more efficiencies in your processes. No single software developer will be the end-all solution for everybody. Using a collection of business expertise across an open platform will lead to faster development and deployment of solutions. There are also new tools coming out that will let novice developers create their own applications that can access and act on their data.

In conclusion, you will want to get the most out of the program because of your investment, but it will take time. Make a list of your priorities and learn different areas of the program to implement, as needed. You don’t need to do it all at once. Capabilities will continue to change and grow, and your software partner should be ready to commit to that. Just like when interviewing a prospective tenant or owner, ask a lot of questions. As a property manager, your gut feeling will probably tell you what is the best choice for you.

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