December 11, 2018
Real Rental Property Management – Forget Excel and QuickBooks
Property management companies monitor a ton of financial details. From rent received to rent outstanding to a multitude of operating costs. In the early days of starting a company, you might use a spreadsheet program like Excel for tracking revenues and expenses. These types of programs have been the backbone of business for the last 20 years or more. But maybe it’s time to re-examine how you run your rental property management firm.
Every Tool Has Its Place
In the last five or so years, there has been a shift away from desktop-based spreadsheets. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its place, but there are some key challenges:
Collaboration is Difficult: Hosting an Excel spreadsheet on a shared file server isn’t the most collaborative option. Make no mistake: Excel is a great tool, and it’s perfect for running calculations and one-off what-if projections. It’s just not a great property management solution for a team.
It’s Cumbersome and Error Prone: Updating data in an Excel file is seldom an easy task. Adding fields, copying formulas and data values can break pre-set functions. There are stats out there that say that the majority of spreadsheets contain errors, and it isn’t always easy to track them down.
It’s Not Visual: Spreadsheets are simply that… a spreadsheet of numbers. While there are some basic data visualization tools, it’s not known for creating intuitive, easy to understand reports and dashboards. Property managers work with owners and a wide variety of internal departments, and being able to access at-a-glance information is critical.
Spreadsheets are excellent tools, but it doesn’t take a lot of data or more complex information to outgrow their size and scope. Property management firms track more than numbers. They also track leases and keep an eye on KPIs across their portfolios, and Excel just isn’t intended for these diverse purposes.
But What About QuickBooks?
QuickBooks is loved by accounting departments and traditionally has been the preferred on-site accounting program, used in tandem with a rental property management solution. QuickBooks helps companies manage their money and can even link to their bank account. But it has its limitations. And, it’s not a walk in the park to adapt to the property business. (No doubt you’ve sat through one of those tutorials where you have to set up tenants as jobs and properties as customers.)
Over the years, property management solutions have been getting more robust and complex. An industry-specific solution is designed to handle more than just accounting. It integrates marketing, finance and operations.
There’s no one right answer, and some companies continue to integrate their property management solution with their accounting program. But, property management systems have come a long way. You can easily generate reports for owners, internal stakeholders and teams. It goes well beyond financial reporting, allowing you to coordinate repairs, capture and collect payments, and automate much of the leasing cycle.
What in Your Toolkit?
It’s little wonder that more and more property management companies are embracing cloud-based, industry-specific solutions. They allow you to work the way you want to, and will integrate with the programs that work best for your company. However, they can offer a full-suite of tools to tackle every part of your business.
If you’re interested in exploring how Property Vista can help your company, see our pricing and arrange a demo by visiting PropertyVista.com/pricing.