Magazine article Journal of Property Management

A Comparison of Property Management Accounting Software

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

A Comparison of Property Management Accounting Software

Article excerpt

Part I

The ideal property management software selection system would enable you to scan a list of important items, find the combination that perfectly meets your needs, and then find the one perfect program that contains every single one of those items. And, of course, the price would fit your budget.

The real world of property management software selection is a long way from that ideal. The best you can do today is to use this matrix as a starting point.

First, realize that many of the more than 1,000 comparison items not used in this matrix may be very important to you. Second, remind yourself that most things are not simple. For the sake of clarity, the matrix uses a "yes/no" determination to indicate whether a program satisfies a requirement. Except in the "yes-of-course-we-have-it" mind of the salesperson, the real answer is usually a matter of degree or even of judgment.

Matrix construction

The items addressed in this article are arranged in categories. The range is designed to be very broad, and all major aspects of property management software programs in this part are represented. Payroll and job costing/construction modules are not considered.

It also is important to remember that the absence of a "yes" bullet in any box does not necessarily indicate a lack of basic functionality in the program. Some items reflect fundamental differences in program infrastructure. In fact, the presence of a particular feature may or may not be desirable for your business; an example might be whether or not end-of-month closing protocol is used. Some important structural items are not listed because of space limitations.

Other items are indicators of quality and/or program sophistication. Such items are not conclusive by themselves. They must be considered in relation to other factors. Dozens of quality- and sophistication-markers are not listed.

Still other items reflect trends and new directions in property management software. My article in the September/October 1991 issue of JPM discusses some of these in detail. Many leading edge items are not listed.

Overall, reading this article should give you a fairly good idea of the breadth and scope of a particular program. Because only the presence of many, many detailed comparison items can properly represent the depth of a program, that aspect is less clear from this matrix.

Assigning bullets

Some items in the matrix are discrete, either/or variables. Most are continuous, having a range of possibilities. This progression creates the problem of where to draw the line; of determining which of the several varieties of proximities warrants a "yes" bullet. For example, we all think we know what a car is. Yet, it may be hard to decide if a Blazer or Range Rover is a car, as it is used by many buyers as daily transportation, or some other vehicle, because of its construction and appearance.

In making our determinations, we relied on a combination of manuals for the programs and questionnaires completed by the software publishers. In general, if a manual did not provide evidence of the item, no bullet is assigned.

We gave software publishers the opportunity to direct us to the appropriate evidence in their manuals, but we did not always agree with their opinions. In several cases, we have been more conservative than the program's publishers.

Programs included

More than 150 currently active publishers of property management programs were invited to participate. More than 50 responded. The programs not in this part of the article are slotted for Parts II and III.

Except for excluding a handful of programs that are only remotely related to investment property management, no screening was performed. Programs included in this series of articles reflect all levels of quality. Inclusion of a program in this matrix means only that the publisher chose to participate. …

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