7 Expert Tips to Prepare for a Property Management Software Transition

Last modified on June 27th, 2024
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Switching property management software is a significant undertaking that can streamline operations and enhance efficiency, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Ensuring a smooth transition requires planning, clear communication, and a phased approach to implementation. Finding the right partners to guide you can add value to this process, allowing you to rely on their specialized knowledge and experience to help navigate the complexities of software migration.

1.) Understand the Transitionary Period

Switching software involves a transition period that typically lasts between 60 and 90 days. During this time, it’s essential to run dual bookkeeping and accounting systems to ensure accuracy and minimize disruptions. It’s critical to manage the dual systems effectively, ensuring that all financial transactions are accurately recorded and reconciled. An expert consultant can help in identifying potential issues early and addressing them promptly, which is critical for maintaining operational continuity.

2.) Set a Clear Cutoff Date

One of the best practices when switching software is to set a clear cutoff date for the completion of financial migration at the end of a month. This approach ensures that all financials are closed out and bank reconciliations are completed before the transition. In coordinating this timing, ensure that the financial data is accurately transferred and that the new system is fully operational from the first day of the following month. Meticulous planning and execution will allow you to avoid mid-month disruptions, which can be particularly challenging to manage.

3.) Clean Up and Validate Your Data

Before migrating to a new software system, it’s crucial to ensure that all current data is accurate and up to date. This involves scrubbing past information, such as deactivating old tenant records and standardizing the chart of accounts, as well as performing a comprehensive audit of the existing data, identifying inconsistencies, and cleaning up the database to ensure it is migration-ready. This meticulous data validation process helps in avoiding errors and ensures that the new system operates smoothly from the start.

4.) Adopt a Proactive Communication Strategy

Effective communication with all stakeholders — including owners, vendors, and tenants — is vital during the transition period. Proactive communication helps in managing expectations and keeping everyone informed about the changes and timelines. Develop and implement detailed communication plans, ensuring that all stakeholders are aware of the transition steps and what is required from them. This approach minimizes confusion and enhances cooperation, making the transition smoother and more efficient.

5.) Take a Staggered Approach to Change Management

Implementing all changes at once can overwhelm the team and stakeholders, leading to errors and delays. A staggered approach to change management, where new processes are rolled out in phases, is more effective. For instance, you might focus on tenant portal migration first, followed by AP workflow and vendor communication, and then complete owner communication and leasing migration. As your team executes this phased implementation, ensure that each phase is completed before moving on to the next. This structured approach helps in managing change more effectively and ensures that each new process is fully integrated and operational.

6.) Leverage RPA and Automation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be a game-changer in the software migration process. RPA can be used to bring over historical financials and attachments, ensuring that all necessary data is accurately transferred. Consultants can identify opportunities for automation and implement RPA to handle routine tasks, reducing the workload on the team and minimizing the risk of human error. By leveraging automation, you can streamline the migration process and ensure that all data is correctly and efficiently transferred to the new system.

7.) Find Support From a Trusted Consultant

Consultants bring a wealth of experience and specialized knowledge that can significantly ease the software transition process. Their role encompasses a variety of critical functions that ensure a smooth migration to AppFolio:

  • Duplicative accounting and bookkeeping: During the transition period, it’s essential to maintain dual bookkeeping and accounting systems. Consultants can take over the duplicative accounting tasks in the new system, ensuring that all financial records are accurately maintained without disrupting ongoing operations.
  • Accounts payable (AP) process management: Consultants assist with the AP process by consolidating vendor invoices, managing maintenance requests, and ensuring that financials associated with payables are accurately migrated to the new system. They streamline these processes into one dashboard, making it easier to manage during the transition.
  • Leasing management and rental applications: Consultants help to draft templates for leases, addendums, and important letters, such as three-day notices and eviction notices. They create automated workflows within AppFolio, which ensures that these documents are efficiently managed and reduces the administrative burden on the team.
  • Workflow management: Workflow management covers various aspects, including late fees, renewals, move-in and move-out inspections, and management fees. Consultants can consolidate these workflows, ensuring that all processes are standardized and managed efficiently within the new system.
  • Accounts receivable (AR) management: Bringing over AR balances, especially from past tenants with open balances or COVID-related delinquencies, can be challenging. Consultants manage this by coordinating the migration of these balances and ensuring that all data is correctly transferred and reconciled in AppFolio.
  • Bank reconciliation: Consultants recommend setting a cutoff date at the end of a month for financial migrations. They manage the bank reconciliation process between the old and new systems, ensuring a clean cutoff and accurate financial reporting.
  • Proactive data migration: Using RPA, consultants bring over historical financial data and attachments, ensuring that all necessary information is accurately transferred to the new system. This automation reduces the workload on the team and minimizes the risk of human error.
  • Communication and change management: Consultants develop and implement comprehensive communication plans to keep owners, vendors, and tenants informed throughout the transition. They ensure proactive communication, minimizing confusion and enhancing stakeholder cooperation.
  • Staggered implementation: To manage change effectively, consultants advocate for a staggered rollout of new processes. They plan and execute phased implementations, focusing on different aspects of the migration (tenant portals, AP workflow, vendor communication, owner communication, and leasing migration) in a structured manner.

For example, in one transition, consultants focused on the tenant portal migration in January and February, AP workflow and vendor communication in February and March, owner communication and financial reporting in April and May, and leasing migration in May and June. This staggered approach ensured that each phase was fully integrated before moving on to the next, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring a smooth transition.

By handling these critical tasks, consultants ensure that all aspects of the transition are carefully planned and executed, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring a smooth and efficient switch to AppFolio. Their specialized knowledge and experience are invaluable in navigating the complexities of software migration and ensuring that the new system operates smoothly from day one.

Conclusion

Switching to any new property management software is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. By choosing a reliable technology provider, following best practices, and leveraging the expertise of consultants, property management companies can ensure a smooth and efficient transition.

About Balanced Asset Solutions

AppFolio partners with the top proptech solutions and accounting and consulting advisers in the market, like Balanced Asset Solutions to give your business a competitive edge while enhancing productivity and operational efficiency. Balanced Asset Solutions provides tailored consulting services for more efficiency and cost savings, with enterprise-scale capabilities and CPA expertise for owning monthly accounting cycles, taxes, audits, and business optimization.

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