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Are You Still Using Server-Based Property Management Software? Here's Why You Should Consider A Cloud-Based Platform Instead…

Re-Leased 12 April 2019

As the pressure to innovate increases daily for commercial property investors and property management professionals, one of the most important decisions that needs to be made is what technology platform you’re going to use to manage your portfolio into the future.

Now, there are some questions around what cloud-based software actually is (and what the cloud really means), as well as what the difference is between modern, mobile-driven solutions, and server-based or traditional spreadsheet solutions.

Some users of server-based property management software platforms report that they are happy with their system and don’t really want to innovate, and it’s typically due to the following factors:

  • The software has been in use for the past 10+ years and the thought of change is frightening.
  • The ability to keep all IP and data stored on site is valued.
  • The financial commitment made to initially installing and maintaining the server is a deterrent to move on to new solutions.
  • Existing server-based platforms have a functionality to use the platform as a pseudo cloud-based technology, so users believe that's 'good enough'.
  • Investing in new technology is scary due to a lack of knowledge around new, shiny products, and the idea that it will take too long to learn how to use a new system.

While these reservations by server-based product users are well-founded, it's arguably doing more harm to future business success than we might think. Business apprehension will lead to a tough-to-overcome cycle of playing catch up to competitors.

The biggest factor in strongly considering the switch to a cloud-based property management platform is the fact that there are absolutely zero hardware costs to go live. You learn the ins and outs of the software with a product specialist and implementation team, your data gets imported and you simply log in from your internet browser – it's a straight-forward three-pronged process.

On the contrary, server-based systems do require you to pay hefty set up and maintenance costs up front (as you might already know having used one in the past or still to this day).

The concerns associated with moving on from something that has been part of your business for decades is a little scary –  it’s comforting to know that the positives outweigh the negatives, and a lot of the reason why this is the case is due to the end-to-end cost differences and also the differences in your ability to access the system from different locations.

While there might be some reservations around going to cloud because potentially hundreds of thousands have already been poured into you existing property management platform, that is among everything else we have outlined, totally understandable. As we mentioned, having reservations about making a switch to a new product is normal, but it's important to weigh up the pros and cons, and to do your research.

We have outlined some pros and cons of server-based and cloud-based software, as well as some key talking points on server vs. the cloud. See the table below:

Server-based platforms

What’s good about them? What’s bad about them?
  • Your data is located on-site.

You need to own a space large enough to house physical servers, as well as the capital to maintain them if disaster strikes.

  • You don’t need an internet connection to access and operate the software.
You’re limited to only using the software when you’re in the office, and there are no mobile applications you can use to work remotely.

  • You can build your own software platform (if you have the capital).

This ability to build something customisable will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it won’t be adaptable to legislative or industry changes, innovations.


Cloud-based platforms

What’s good about them?

What’s bad about them?

  • No need for onsite hardware.
 
  If you don’t have an internet connection, you can’t access the software.
  • The software providers are constantly updating and improving their product.
   If your business doesn’t keep up with the pace of change, it can be challenging.
  • The software providers listen to their users and build out the product accordingly.
  Requests are placed into a cue of priority and are built out accordingly, so if you need a feature it’s best to raise it with your account manager directly.
  • Your data is backed up instantly.
If you lose internet connection, you can’t operate the software.
  • They sync and integrate with other reputable, global cloud-based products (think Re-Leased and Xero).
    If your business doesn’t fully embrace tech, you won’t experience the benefits of multiple integrations with partner platforms.
  • You can work from anywhere, anytime.

N/A

  • Running costs are significantly lower.

N/A

Server-based platforms can only be accessed on-site. Period. And that’s a tremendous disadvantage in today’s fast-paced commercial property environment, where competitors and potential tenants are always plugged in to digital systems and expect immediate outcomes. Agility is as important as ever today.

Cloud-based property management software doesn’t dictate how you work, it empowers you to be a modern professional who can work on your own terms. Technology of today certainly shouldn’t dictate how you run your business.

Workers of today, and particularly commercial property professionals, want to have flexible working conditions. The ability to work remotely if sick or if on the road is highly sought after, and the swathes of top talent are hunting for the right workplace that provides flexible environments.

Today’s commercial property management owners and businesses who manage their own portfolio can’t afford to lose top talent because of old school systems that aren’t conducive to an individual’s professional growth – this is an extremely important point to take note of in today’s climate.

Ultimately, you should be using a property management platform that is aligned with your business approach and one that makes your business better at being efficient and an has more room for sustained growth. Even if your existing software platform is ‘doing the job’ or if your staff don’t want to change the software they’re using, just do some research and think about the macro of what that means for your business and your portfolio's health.

Consider these questions, for example: Will it hinder your growth if you don’t be more innovative? If you aren’t using technology to drive your business, will you potentially lose out on revenue? Are your competitors innovating? Think deeply about what your business requires to thrive today, and apply the necessary improvements to your organisation to make sure that you’re kicking goals into the next decade.

Even if you’re not actively looking to switch to a new, more innovative software solution due to the perceived challenges of change, it’s important that you discover new pathways to improve your business, and perhaps the first step is to see a new platform in action.

This will be (at the very least) a great entry into what the world of cloud-based property management software looks, feels and operates like. If you’re not proactively planning for the future, your business will fall behind – playing catch up is no fun.

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