For too many community associations, a familiar scene plays out in HOA offices across America. File cabinets being rummaged through, dusty laptops being dug out, and a frantic search for that one sticky note containing a vital piece of intel. Maybe the true horror won’t set in until somebody dusts off the old stone tablet and chisel!
How many times has your HOA tried to implement new technology, only to be met with resistance in the form of, “this is the way we’ve always done it!”? The thought of change can be tough for a lot of reasons, but maybe it all boils down to a fundamental trust of the unknown. And when it comes to implementing higher-tech systems in your HOA, there are a lot of unknowns. Here are a few tips to make finding and transitioning to new-fangled HOA software a little more comfortable.
Dial In Your Search
If you’re looking for a better way to do things in your HOA, the best thing you can do is narrow down exactly what you’re looking for. Using specific search terms will give better results. For example, “Property Management Software” will give you lots of results that end up being ads for property management companies. This might not be helpful if you’re self-managed, or you’re someone AT a property management company. Instead, try being a little more specific with phrases like “HOA violations software” or “HOA compliance software.” If you’re interested in apps, make sure you add the word “mobile” to your search.
Sorting Through the Options
Even with carefully crafted searches, you’re bound to see a good number of results. And since everyone has a little different idea about how they want their HOA software to work, it pays to know what features to look for as you look through your options.
What Are the Needs?
While you’re searching for software, be aware of the needs in your specific community or communities you’re looking to help. If wifi coverage is an issue, look for offline-capable programs. Is your community spread out over different neighborhoods with specific sets of CCRs? Make sure your HOA software lets you switch communities on the fly. Small details like these can actually make or break a program when it comes down to daily use.
Is it User-Friendly?
Since you’ll likely have to “sell” a committee or board on the system, its usefulness and user-friendliness are going to be paramount.
Users will need to be comfortable that they’ll be able to do their job well, even in a new system. If there is any loss of function when compared to the processes already in place, the people you’re trying to get on board will likely be more shy about adopting new technology. You’ll get bonus points if the system has a nice layout, good customer service, and usability across multiple platforms, such as Android and Apple devices.
Do a Little Show & Tell
Most community managers, in one way or another, are on the search for the better way, the faster way, the time-is-money-so-let’s-save-both way. That’s why you’re shopping for software, right? The trouble is, you’re often up against the most feared foe of change. Don’t get me wrong, traditions are often a wonderful thing, but not where technology is concerned.
So how do you fix the dreaded “this is the way we’ve always done it” attitude? Don’t be afraid to go back to elementary school and do a little show and tell. For example, video. Whether it’s a clever commercial, or a colorful and insightful .gif, or a tutorial about how the software works, companies use video to show you exactly how they’re going to save you time and money. Take full advantage of this and use those tools when you present your ideas to boards, committees, or manager.
Once you narrow down your choices to some programs you really like, do your homework. Be prepared to discuss the resource (time and money) demands of how things are currently done, and contrast it with what will be saved with the new technology. Present this money-saving math to the decision makers who write the checks, and be prepared for a litany questions like: How many hours does your process take? How much does it cost the company to pay someone to do it? How much faster can you get it done with the new process?
The Bottom Line
If the software you’re looking at can clearly make it quicker, easier, and cheaper to do the job, you may not only have a winner, but an incredibly easy time convincing even the most die-hard traditionalists! Put down the stone tablet and chisel. Once you find the right system, your schedule, compliance team, board, and the entire community will thank you!
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