Last modified on November 20th, 2020
By Beth Gilbert
Before running to ring in 2021, you have to jump the final hurdles in order to close out the previous year, which means a few analytical and integral tasks: budget reporting and planning, delivering statements, and sending letters and assessment updates.
These responsibilities can be cumbersome, especially when done manually, which can lead to mistakes and extra costs. If your processes aren’t written down in manageable steps or put into a system, you risk having to work as if your team is re-learning the process every year.
Instead of forging ahead with last year’s procedures, you can use the repetitive nature of your end-of-year duties to your advantage to create a standardized process. With your responsibilities being more predictable, there’s plenty of room to codify your operations to automate certain tasks, eliminate error-prone activities, and build in efficiencies that you can improve within your system year after year.
To minimize yearly manual data entry and track all activities well, create a streamlined process with clear steps for crafting everything from budget reports and board member packets to statements and assessment letters. Here are three ways to consolidate and refine your end-of-year duties to easily wrap up your year.
1.)Budgeting for Upcoming Fiscal Years
Few things are more important than informing your boards about the past, present, and future health of their finances. Whether they came in over, at, or under budget dictates many of their money strategies for the upcoming year. And offering them visibility into their financials with multiple concise reports like budget comparatives, fund balance and income statements, profit and loss for the reserve, and board of directors packets helps clear up any money misconceptions and streamlines their planning and decision-making processes.
For specific reports, like budget comparatives , managers can also provide month-to-date and year-to-date actual figures versus budgeted ones, and comparisons between certain periods of time for review. These options consolidate critical data for board members, which simplifies evaluation while assisting them in planning for specific months where they may need to budget additional funds.
When you’re thinking about further centralizing your associations’ budgeting, it may work to move these traditionally paper processes to a software system that has accounting built in. With live data and having a budgeting tool built in, the process is not only smoother, but when you’re working with multiple associations, it eliminates many time-consuming elements and allows you to make budget adjustments in real time. Additionally, software helps maintain accurate records and have visibility into every associations’ financials. With clearer insights, board members can make better informed financial decisions and plan more efficiently.
2.) Sending Emails and Letters
A 2018 AppFolio Survey stated 92 percent of community association managers spent at least 10 hours per week communicating with association boards. But what if you could get some of that time back by streamlining your homeowner and board communications?
Reexamining how often you send messages and which channels you use can make a big difference in reducing your overall correspondence time. Think about how you can use modern communication tools to share the proper information with your associations at the right times while reducing the micromanaging of your communication process. Creating new ways for your email and letter procedures to become more scalable in the years ahead may mean using software to leverage mass digital and paper mail communications, and build letter templates, with less time spent on back-and-forth messaging with board members and homeowners.
Establishing a communication system that’s efficient and moves away from labor-intensive manual processes means fewer costly mistakes, repeatable processes that get easier every year, and the opportunity to automate particular mass communication tasks to save you time on compiling annual letters and emails.
3.) Assessment Update Notifications
If it turns out that you need to change assessments for certain associations for the new year, instead of using a complex manual system, consider simplifying the process to become more efficient. A tech platform can help you update assessments, pare down your procedures, and prepare for the next fiscal year.
As soon as a need for change is identified, you can make it online via the software, start implementing it for the new year, and notify residents with customized dues increase letters. With the help of tech, you increase the efficiency of your accounts payable, save time and money, and reduce errors and manual data entry plus provide the option for homeowners to keep their account up to date.
Finishing up your end-of-year duties doesn’t have to be a time-consuming project filled with multiple complex manual processes and hours of data collection. Making the switch to a cloud-based platform, like AppFolio, helps you prep customized and detailed annual reports, letters, and notifications as efficiently and error-free as possible. Through a single online portal, board members and managers can communicate, budget, and make important financial decisions in order to close the books while minimizing errors and mistakes.