Re-Leased

 

Why is Usability and Easy-to-Use Software So Important for Property Managers?

Jamie McDermott 02 June 2017

Artboard

What’s the best way to start the conversation of Usability? I’m going to go with discussing an example of usability at its best; Facebook. The ‘onboarding’ process of FB is one of the most user friendly experiences I have ever seen; you just don’t have to do anything. Facebook tell you what to do and when to do it, how to find your friends and the communities you’d like to be part of, and then, it starts to suggest people that you are friends with, without you having to even go looking.

It is this standard of Usability that the whole property industry should be aspiring to. Simple, intuitive and fully customised; that’s what property professionals and consumers now demand.

But, usability isn’t only something that the industry should be offering its consumers, it’s also something that PropTech companies need to be offering the industry. For the purposes of an example, I’m going to use my specialist subject: Property Management.

Why is Usability and Easy-to-Use Software So Important for Property Managers?

There are four key focus points and practices that Property Managers need to utilise in order to ensure that their business is operating with maximum usability:

Dashboard

Dashboard

The Dashboard is the root of usability. It is one, centrally located place where property managers can easily and tactfully analyse every single area of their business.

Why do Property Managers (PMs) need a dashboard?

Put simply, without a dashboard, it becomes very difficult to keep track of what needs to be done and when.

Imagine trying to keep track of which tenants are in rent arrears, which certificates and compliance documentation needs to be renewed, whether or not there are any tenants whose terms are due to end, what rent reviews need to be completed and what properties need to be inspected. It’s little wonder that things can soon get out of control.

If PMs aren’t using an online dashboard, it means they’re likely still using Post-It notes, spreadsheets, Outlook or Google Calendar. Therefore, things often slip through the cracks that form between these various, unsophisticated note keeping practices.

Breaking down the theory of a dashboard

The Dashboard puts everything you need to successfully manage your business and properties in one place; front and centre.

Every time you log-in to your dashboard, you will be alerted to any upcoming tasks and deadlines, but not out of the blue, because intelligent scheduling means you know about everything well ahead of time. No last minute panics or nasty surprises.

For example, there’s no point in being told on the day that a tenant's’ lease is ending, so a good dashboard will tell you far in advance so that you can get the tenant to re-sign or have enough time to find a new tenant and minimise vacant time in the property. Periods of vacant property are where PMs lose the most money.

Automated Workflows

Automation

What do Property Managers (PMs) need to know about automated workflows?

The easiest way to maintain and lead a business towards successful growth is to pay very close attention to the ins and outs of your workflows.

Why? Because a convoluted and complex workflow often leads to inefficiency; tasks are only half complete, deadlines are missed, and important jobs remain totally untouched. The result? Unhappy consumers and heightened levels of daily stress; missed opportunities and unforeseen obstacles.

Happy tenants are happy to pay more rent and happy owners are happy to pay more fees. A good workflow helps to ensure both.

Breaking down the theory of efficient workflows

A good workflow breaks down upcoming tasks into individual sections, each one assigned a timeframe and deadline.

Property Managers, for example, often need to carry out regular inspections on properties and their facilities; a good workflow can automatically send task reminders on pre-set timeframes. Don’t just schedule the next inspection, schedule all future inspections. An automated workflow should also handle the responsibility of informing tenants of upcoming inspections because.

An efficient workflow should also be able to do the same for the legally required maintenance tasks such gas safety checks and fire safety assessments. The intricacies of such checks and repairs can also be handled with a good, automated workflow. Any workflow software worth its salt can help you to request and review quotes from preferred suppliers etc, allowing you to instantly create a work order and get the task complete with minimal clicks.

Cloud-Based

Cloud Based

Why do Property Managers (PMs) need to know about the cloud?

Working from a cloud-based system means that you can work from anywhere in the world at any time. It means that you are never out of the loop and always able to respond to issues or opportunities without having to be tied to the office desk.

Cloud-based platforms mean that a PM can be out on site at one of their properties and still have full access to the building’s data output and general information, using nothing but a smartphone or tablet.

Breaking down the theory of the cloud

So long as you have an internet connection, you get access to the cloud.

This means that anywhere in the world can be your workspace, and location is no barrier to your best possible performance.

It really is that simple. If you don’t want to miss opportunity and need to be able to handle potential issues instantly, you need the cloud.

Intuitiveness

Intuitiveness

What do Property Managers (PMs) need to know about Intuitiveness?

It is important to acknowledge that every person has their own individual preferences when it comes to work habits and best practice.

Every PM has their own idiosyncrasies and complete their work to suit, which is often not a problem. However, when bringing on a new team member, or passing an account on to someone else, if the system by which that account/portfolio is too slanted towards the preferences of an individual, it can be awfully tricky for the new starter to pick up. Getting used to the peculiar methods wastes time, wastes money and increases stress.

Breaking down the theory of Intuitiveness. 

Successful business practices need to be intuitive because it’s the fastest route to optimum efficiency throughout a portfolio’s lifecycle.

If PMs and their colleagues can work off an intuitive and standardised workflow, no time is wasted when passing accounts and portfolios from one team member to another; no tasks are left half-finished; no ideas remain half-baked. Essentially, mistakes are eliminated.

Everything a Property Manager does should be done with the interest of usability in mind. You can have the best data, the most in depth analysis ….but unless it is stored in a standardised, usable, actionable and accessible workflow is rendered useless.

Here, at Re-Leased, we’re proud of the work we’re doing at the forefront of usability, helping property managers work better and work faster. At the same time, we’re always looking to learn more about the industry, and we love to chat about it; a lot. So take a look at what we’re doing and, if you fancy, drop us a line and we’ll grab a coffee.