What is your land bank’s relationship with software for property management?
We recently had the opportunity to attend a big land bank conference and the sentiment around data management and software was surprising. At one session, a presenter talked about how she was managing a land bank covering a wide geographic area and she was “doing it without fancy software.” In the next breath she explained how one big challenge she faced was justifying being away from her office for the time it took to drive from the office to a distant property location and back.
This issue is significant for land banks all over the country, especially in rural locations!
Since we first started serving land banks and other emerging community development organizations engaged in revitalizing distressed property, we’ve confronted these organizations’ tendency to view our software as a nice-to-have, when the reality is that it’s an essential resource. There are countless reasons why investing in smart software should be foundational.
Here are the six most significant reasons why intuitive software is an essential tool for keeping track of property management data.
These programs offer a wide range of features and capabilities, including the ability to integrate with other software programs and applications. ePropertyPlus, our “fancy software,” integrates with GIS maps, payment processing systems, document generators, a business intelligence report dashboard, and has a native mobile app for Android and iOS. Pretty much any system that allows API integration will integrate to ePropertyPlus. Ours is also built specifically for land banks, though it can just as easily handle permitting, rental registrations, and more, all in a scalable fashion.
What are the results of all this technical wizardry? Organizations save time and money. Time savings come when you don’t have to spend time doing the same things over and over, and when you don’t need to correct bad data, fill in gaps, or make manual corrections. We have had a subscriber, for example, who used to close their offices for three days each month, just to compile reports. Now they do that with a click of a button.
ePropertyPlus also mitigates the cost of not being to provide real time information when it’s needed, like at a public meeting, a meeting with a key development partner or funder, or in response to a freedom of information request. The cost of a “follow-up” can be counted in time, missed opportunity costs, money, or all of three!
Since time is money, there is a direct cost benefit from using software, but there are also direct savings of cash. We’ve heard more than one horror story of a vendor billing for services not performed, which amounts to theft of services. Software helps eliminate that by demanding digital proof, like photos or service tracking histories. There is also the cost of losing confidence of those same stakeholders, who may withdraw or withhold support.
We counsel organizations that they have a window of opportunity to set expectations for the stakeholders and staff. Once the window closes, it can be tough to get it open again. That means the decision to adopt or not adopt software is not just a short-term decision. It may set the organization up as a nimble, software driven organization, or one that is much more bureaucratic and inefficient.
Used correctly, software will improve internal and external communication and coordination, help businesses stay organized, and build confidence among internal and external users.