HOA management software can help companies and self-managed communities alike. But, choosing the right one for your community can come as a challenge without proper preparation.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Picking HOA Management Software
Anyone who has ever managed a community association knows how important it is to have the right software to help perform day-to-day tasks. But, HOA management software comes in many different kinds, and there are many different vendors who supply it. With so many options, it can be difficult to know exactly which one best suits your association.
As a guide, here are the do’s and don’ts of choosing an HOA or condo management software:
Do: Consider Your Needs
Before you decide which one you want, you need to reflect on your association and its needs. Take a hard look at your business processes and how each one affects the other. Evaluate which aspects of HOA management you often encounter problems in.
Perhaps your HOA finds it difficult to disseminate information in a timely manner. In that case, you need HOA software that offers communication tools. You might even benefit from a system that comes with an HOA website. If your HOA needs help tracking and managing service requests, then find a management program that comes with a work order module.
It is a good idea to sit down with your fellow board members and assess what you think the association lacks. Consider which features are non-negotiable and which ones you can do without. This will help you narrow down your choices.
Research is of paramount importance when it comes to any type of decision. You must do your due diligence and look at a number of possible options before choosing a provider.
Now that you have a list of features you want, you can cross-reference it with the ones software providers offer.
Your research should not stop there, though. It is also worth finding out what other users and clients have to say about the HOA software. Testimonials and reviews often give you a better look at what you can expect from a provider. Consider both positive and negative comments. If you cannot find reviews online, reach out to the software provider to ask for references.
Don’t: Skip Out on Accounting
Accounting is one of the most challenging parts of HOA management, so it is no wonder many HOAs deem this as a must-have feature. Financial management is not exactly the easiest aspect of running a community, and self-managed HOA software can help lighten the load.
Make sure to look for specific accounting features, such as real-time budget management, A/R and A/P modules, invoicing and billing, and even online dues payments. Having bank reconciliation, general ledger, and financial reporting capabilities is also a plus. Though setting up your chart of accounts and master lists will take some work at first, a comprehensive accounting feature will significantly ease the burden on your HOA board.
Do: Consider Mobile Applications
With the world rapidly embracing the transition to mobile, it almost seems foolish to go with HOA management software that refuses to get with the times. Whether it is in the form of a mobile app or a mobile-friendly website, you should look for a provider that places weight on mobile practices.
Mobile-friendly software will benefit both your HOA board and community members alike. Residents can access their accounts through a mobile online portal and pay their dues straight from their phone. Similarly, board members can retrieve documents, review and approve requests, and send notices while on-the-go.
Don’t: Be Afraid to Contact the Developer
There is only so much you can find out about community association management software through its website. If a provider leaves you wanting more information, you can always reach out to them directly. Most software providers post a number you can call or an online form you can fill out.
Make sure to ask vital questions — questions that product pages usually skip over. This includes questions such as:
- How will their software make your operations smoother?
- How long have they been providing HOA management solutions to communities?
- Can they customize the software based on your specific needs?
- Do they offer updates or software upgrades for free?
HOA management is a special brand of management, and it takes a developer with sufficient knowledge of the industry to provide you with expert solutions.
Do: Ask About Support
The best-case scenario is that your HOA software will run continuously and smoothly without any hitches or problems. Unfortunately, software, no matter the type, usually comes with some bugs and errors.
You may even experience downtime or get locked out for some reason. If and when this happens, you need to be able to rely on your provider to fix the issue.
Therefore, it is imperative to learn how your prospective software provider handles customer support. Can you reach them 24/7? What communication avenues can you reach them through? How quickly will they respond to your concerns? How do they deal with various software problems?
It is also worth asking about the entire installation process. Who will set up the software? Do they offer data migration assistance? Clearing this up right from the get-go will eliminate any misapprehensions.
Don’t: Forget Security
It is impossible to discuss data management without mentioning security. Homeowners associations deal with all kinds of information, and a lot of them are personal or financial in nature. Therefore, it only makes sense to have concerns about security and privacy.
First of all, you should ask about data storage. Where does the provider keep your data? Do they have their own servers or will they store it in a cloud? Do you need your own on-site server?
You should also learn about the different ways they ensure security. How do they make sure your data stays safe and secure? Do they use SSL encryption?
Dealing with data also raises the possibility of corruption due to viruses or breaches in security. If one or the other occurs, what steps will they take to handle the situation? Do they back up your data? If so, how often?
Do: Take Advantage of Free Demos
Although you can get a somewhat fragmented understanding of how their product works, it is infinitely better to experience it firsthand. Many software providers offer free demos of their products for a limited amount of time.
Through demos, you can get a feel of what the software has to offer and how each module relates to the others. You can pinpoint gaps in processes and maybe even discover some features you previously failed to consider.
Making a Choice
Choosing HOA management software is a big decision for any size association. Before diving head-first into a decision that could very well waste your time and money, consider all your options, do your research, and find out everything you can about each prospect. In doing so, you can make the most out of your investment and use the software without any regrets.
If you need full-service HOA software with all the necessary features at an affordable price, Condo Manager is the one to beat. Give us a call today at (800) 626-1267 to learn more about our product. You can also get a Condo Manager HOA management software free demo by contacting us online.
- 10 Best HOA Accounting Software
- 5 Ways The Condo Manager Software Improves HOA Communication
- HOA Vendor Management: Keep Track Of Your Vendors With Ease