Saturday, 28 March 2015

The truth about property software

Many people are dissatisfied with their property software.

Systems regularly cost more than expected to purchase and implement. There is also a feeling that they don’t deliver what was promised, and some staff never learn how to use their system properly, while others only make do and mend.

It can be different!

There are some excellent systems out there, if you want to acquire one.

And even if you don’t want to change system, you can get more from what you have, saving money and improving management information.

Transforming how systems are used now can make a difference over the next five to ten years, or even longer. (See below for where savings can be identified.)

How to transform systems?

Firstly, your software and the systems around it should fit with the way your organisation works.

This may mean changing the way you operate, but it is worth tackling this in order to achieve significant long-term benefits. Whether you have new software or want to use an existing system better, take the time (or bring in an experienced person) to examine the way you work.

Ensure that your business processes use the available features of the software you have.

Agree what the system is being used for

As part of this process, staff and management should agree specifically what it is they are trying to achieve with the system, and (for example) what reports are needed.

An issue many people neglect is duplication of input. One company I dealt with had a property system which was not linked to their accounting system. Each day they retyped entries into their accounts system. I estimated that just linking their systems would save £20,000 over 5 years, not counting the impact on staff morale – and this was only one of the improvements I identified.

Make sure that your systems are fully integrated so that data is not input twice – a recipe for frustration and mistakes.

Training and procedures are vital

Secondly, staff should be fully trained in the appropriate method of using their systems, with all parties agreeing how and why systems are being used the way they are. (See my article on Why procedures need to be agreed.)

Far too often I have found that some staff think they can avoid dealing with their systems because they have urgent work to be attended to! But in the long term the system is a major resource to your organisation, and it is worth making the effort to keep it up-to-date.

Training should clearly identify how everyone will benefit from using the system as proposed.

Monitor system use

The final step is to monitor the use of the system on a regular basis.

Managers should note where people look for answers. If they don’t look in the system, then it’s probably not being kept up to date.

One large company I know of has installed a market-leading system, but they do not use it properly. All real work is done in Excel. What a waste of money.

Far too many people use Excel for day-to-day operations because it is easy and convenient. But they don’t realise the continuing, damaging effect it has on the organisation. (See my article on Succession Planning.)

Making sure the system is up-to-date and used regularly will mean it provides a long term resource for the whole organisation.

And if everyone understands the business objectives, then the system is more likely to be used properly.


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