James Whiting, head of business transformation, Grosvenor Systems looks at how to choose the right property management software.

The commercial property market is undeniably feeling the squeeze at present, as property managers and owners scramble to ensure their businesses are operating as efficiently as possible to weather the economic storms ahead. Focusing on value-adds rather than time-intensive admin drains to streamline operations has never been more important. The good news is that innovative proptech solutions that can take the sting out of admin tasks are in abundance, but how can reliability be prioritised over glossy features?

Why automation?

The consensus is, increased efficiency leads to property managers having more time to focus on further innovating tenant experiences. According to recent data from workplace services company Xenith, 44% of time wasted during the workday in the industry is through inefficient property management processes. Automation can be utilised in a plethora of business areas namely rent collections and rent arrears; maintenance requests and scheduling; communications and notices; as well as assisting internal processes such as marketing, accounting and reporting and analysis. At Grosvenor Systems, for example, we have collaborated with Xenith to use self-learning AI to make it 2.5 times faster to process a single invoice. Investing in innovative solutions not only reduces human error but it can also increase job satisfaction.

The key to team happiness?

The benefits of automation for the property industry are far-reaching and rewarding. It improves the efficiency of all processes because, once the specific parameters are set, actions such as processing invoices can be completed quickly, saving time and money. Using bespoke AI-driven solutions also reduces human error and biases which not only protects the reputation of your operations, but also increases efficiency and avoids unexpected costs. This allows for more availability as more time is left to tackle top-level tasks, such as business innovation and development, which works towards progressing your property operation as a whole. As automation helps teams get more out of their job, it can also bring teams closer together, removing departmental barriers and increasing the understanding of the entire management process.

Importantly, automation also has the possibility to increase tenant happiness. Today, customer satisfaction is expected to be at the heart of business strategy and the property market is no exception – automation not only makes landlords’ lives easier but also improves the quality of life for tenants through enabling them to conveniently receive communications and important messages.

How to pick what’s best for you

When picking property management software, there are several key factors to take into account, like price, functionality, and specifications, but there are also questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase. The first step in choosing the ideal software for you is to evaluate your present system and identify its shortcomings. For instance, if you frequently forget important dates like lease deadlines, you'll need a programme with automated alerts and reminders.

Ensuring you fully understand all the costs involved, namely implementation and ongoing costs, is also key in identifying the different options and tiers available. Keeping long-term goals in mind is important to ensure cost-efficiency as the types of systems that work with managing a smaller to medium portfolio, may not work when your business grows. Investing now will lay a strong foundation for the future. Last but not least, don't overlook stakeholder support as successful adoption depends on taking into account the needs of all significant project stakeholders.

Innovative property management software can play a role in helping the property market adapt to shifting customer demand, and automation is a critical part of this. The business benefits of streamlining maintenance tasks, strengthening relationships with tenants, and control finances more selectively are self-apparent. Ultimately, though, automation is valuable because it impacts positively on people – people who use the system day in, day out. Freeing people from monotonous tasks allows them to work smarter and concentrate on business growth. In the long run, more time is available for people to learn and improve other aspects of their jobs, which leads to higher job satisfaction and higher-quality output from everyone involved.