Why property teams shouldn’t use spreadsheets to manage important processes
Property management companies have vast amounts of data, but all this valuable information is fragmented. It exists in structured, semi-structured or unstructured formats and lives in isolated applications and departments. Unfortunately, all of this fragmented data is dormant, making it challenging to take advantage of. Without a single source of data, it’s impossible to find clear and actionable insights for better decision making.
The traditional tools of the trade—homegrown databases, legacy IT systems, out-of-the-box CRMs, proprietary Excel models and various other point solutions—only capture bits and pieces, and not the entire story. With fragmented data, property teams must sift through inboxes, chat threads, property management systems, and various apps to distill information and gain insights.
If property managers want to see the entire history of a lead, maintenance request, renovation or resident complaint they must assemble all the data from various sources. These sources are typically from data providers, CRMs, document storage and accounting systems. This process generally happens by exporting data from sources and then cutting and pasting into a new Excel sheet by hand. Without the use of technology, this can be extremely tiresome for property managers and risky since its manual nature leads to human error. It’s also the it’s so critical from property management technology to stay competitive, agile and data driven.
Work management apps like Aptly can centralize and integrate various internal and external data, making it easier for property teams to manage, analyze and report on their data and processes. Instead of keeping data sources isolated from one another, work management apps can help collect, organize and standardize to streamline processes and positively impact the bottom line. This allows for a single source of truth for all property management data, resident and prospect conversations, task management and analytics.
Excel is an indispensable tool widely used across property management industries. But spreadsheets have limitations, especially when dealing with very large data sets. Property management processes can have tens of thousands of data fields to keep track of making spreadsheets become more painful to manage. With spreadsheets, information slipping through the cracks is inevitable. Plus, Excel slows to an almost intolerable level when processing large quantities of data, which is often critical time needed for making important decisions.
This can lead to scrambling instead of being proactive. This is problematic because reactive management is stressful and creates rushed decision-making that can have serious consequences for your investors, management and residents. Even the slightest wrinkle or a missed deadline can trigger all sorts of technical defaults and have extensive implications.
There are some one-size-fits-all systems out there, but the reality is that in today’s ever-changing and hyper-competitive market, what makes you different also sets you apart. Those plain-vanilla systems and tools just don’t cut it and in fact may do more harm than good.
Today’s property teams require flexibility in a technology solution. One that can integrate and build off existing workflows, models and reports, rather than force the use of a system-generated template that cannot be customized or changed without throwing tons of money at it.
So how do you find a work management app that meets these needs and works the way property management professionals want to work? Fortunately there are ways to sort the good from the bad. Here are a few key features to look for.
Well crafted work management software supports each phase of your various processes from start to finish. It’s the center of your work stream. This means it helps you manage work through each stage of its lifecycle while collaborating with your team.
The work management process can look different depending on what type of processes you work with. If your focus evolves and your processes change, you want a system that can adapt with the different needs, requests and demands of your investors, residents and team members. Good software will support your business model and different processes.
Many organizations shy away from work management software purely because of technology investment hurdles. That’s why you should look for a software that is not only cloud-based but also checks all your security and regulatory boxes.
Work management software helps property management professionals centralize data, add power and depth to Excel models and bring structure and transparency to the task management workflow. If you or your firm are still relying on some combination of CRMs and Excel exclusively, or spending too much time searching for data and playing catch-up, ask yourself if you want to continue the status quo or make the switch and invest in work management technology.
The stakes are too high to have something so important be managed exclusively with Excel without the automation or fail-safes. If we want to make our built world more efficient, first we are going to have to complement our spreadsheets by integrating them into much more sophisticated systems where they belong.