How to Transition Your Property Management Company to New Software

Last modified on May 3rd, 2024

It is tempting to procrastinate or delay transitioning to new property management technology. Whether a painful past experience or the anticipation of a stressful migration is causing your hesitation, the benefits of having the right property management software partner far outweigh the comforts of status quo.

Having the right software in place is critical to every business, but the rental housing industry’s unique needs can make migrating to new property management technology feel particularly challenging. Many organizations have reasonable hesitations and concerns about making such an important change. 

The good news is: Transitioning a property management company to a new software provider is easier than you might think. However, it does still require ample planning to ensure a smooth migration for all parties involved.

And fortunately, working with an experienced property management software partner can both guide the process and make the results more effective.  

In this article, we’ll explore the necessary steps and factors involved in preparing a business for transitioning to and training on new software, regardless of organization size. (These pointers are especially helpful when looking to alleviate pain points from previous migrations.) 

Whether your business is a large, mid-size, or small property management company, it is important to handle any technology migration with care, thought, and a detailed action plan and schedule. 

First, let’s review how to tell if it is time for new property management software.

Then, we’ll dive into tips for each stage of the onboarding process, with specific considerations for various sized-property management companies to keep in mind.  

Signs You May Need New Property Management Software 

Answer these questions to see if the property management technology you’re currently using is in need of an upgrade: 

Not Achieving Goals

Is current software functionality a factor in holding property management company team members back from achieving business expectations? 

Lack of Mobility

Is your property management software only accessible in-office, or on-site? 

Too Much Time Spent on Manual Processes 

Is excessive time spent manually inputting data and answering various requests, inquiries, or calls from residents, owners, and vendors? 

Cumbersome Experience Across Disjoined Systems 

Do team members need to log on to and off multiple platforms in order to retrieve and reconcile various points of data to get work done?

Disorganized Training Processes

Are standardized training guides available to reduce the time and resources spent on onboarding new hires and guiding current team members through software steps? 

Lack of Visibility 

Is your property management company able to quickly and easily see how properties are performing? Is data presented in a detailed or customized way that makes it possible to make informed business decisions? 

Lack of Self-Service Tools 

Do owners and residents have the ability to carry out tasks and/or access information through an online portal? 

Poor Vendor Managemen

Does juggling different vendors for multiple services take a lot of your team’s time and coordination to track and manage?  

Check the list of warning signs above and tally up how many questions led to a “Yes.” An honest evaluation will make it clear if your business could benefit from an upgraded property management technology solution. 

The Key Steps of Migrating to a New Property Management Technology 

If “Yes” was the answer to the majority of questions above, it is indeed time to transition to a right-sized, optimized property management technology solution. In today’s dynamic real estate market and ever-changing rental environment, staying competitive often requires embracing new technological advancements.

With proper preparation and training, transitioning to a new platform can bring significant business results, from increased efficiency to enhanced customer experiences. 

However, the process can admittedly be daunting without proper preparation and training. Use this list of advice to guide your property management company through a smooth and successful provider change. 

Tips for Assessing and Planning a Software Transition 

Once you’ve decided to look for a new technology partner, take time to evaluate your internal wish list, must-haves, and planning steps before reaching out to potential providers. When your specific business needs are well-defined first, you’ll save time in the long run by knowing exactly what it is that you’re asking for. 

  • Before beginning the actual software evaluation process, it’s critical to first conduct a comprehensive assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps of your current software and operational processes. 
  • Define your top reasons for a technology transition to ensure the goals and objectives are articulated in writing for: 
    • Understanding and aligning leadership and staff internally.
    • Serving as a clear and succinct summarization for your potential software providers’ via an RFP or brief. 
    • Ensuring your teams understand why this process is taking place and why it’s a priority, while also serving as a “north star” guide for the selection and prioritization of the best-suited software solution.  
  • Develop a transition action plan to ensure there is ample time allotted for the transition. An action plan and schedule should be developed around a non-peak season, with reasonable buffer time for unexpected delays or testing corrections. Key roles, responsibilities, and task owners should also be identified and involved. Make sure to account for the timing of rent roll, and make sure the provider you choose is ready to support any issues that may come up during the go-live process.
  • Consider budgetary, resource, and scheduling factors to avoid potential disruptions to daily operations, finances, and morale. 
  • Determine a list of key stakeholders to ensure awareness, alignment, and approvals throughout the start-to-finish process. 
  • Pro tip: Seek input from end-users who will be directly impacted by the new software. Regardless of job title or role seniority, these insights will help identify potential challenges and will ensure the solution will ultimately meet their needs — and satisfaction. 

Tips for Selecting the Right Software Provider 

Software functionality varies widely but is a necessary element when deciding which technology solution is right for your property management company. When going through your RFP and provider search, look beyond price tags and flashy bells and whistles and be sure to understand and evaluate these 12 areas: 

1.) User Experience: How easy will the software be to access on various devices and for members of various departments to use? Will it also be responsive and intuitive for vendors, owners, and residents as well?

2.) Included Features: Will all of the automated and mobile benefits you need be housed in one platform? Does your company have a diversified portfolio? It can be incredibly valuable to use the same system for both investment and property management, if applicable. 

3.) Onboarding Process: Are all of the steps detailed with a dedicated timeline? Is there a contingency plan for delays or unexpected hurdles? 

Pro tip: It is especially important to know what the level of training and service support will look like for your tier and price point. Prioritize software providers that offer comprehensive training and support services, regardless of the size or scale of your company or their technology.

4.) Data Migration: Is there a clearly outlined process and schedule for getting your data into the new system? 

5.) Customer Support: What on-demand support options does a provider offer? For example, will self-help guides, tutorials, articles, videos, live chat, phone, email, and/or in-person visits be available?

6.) Goal Setting: How will the software help you achieve specific business goals? Is the provider invested in and equipped to help you reach your desired future state? 

7.) Ongoing Training: Will you have access to product training that is in-depth, provider-led, and continuously updated? 

8.) Issue Resolution: How will a potential new provider offer expert advice for troubleshooting programs or answering questions? 

9.) Communication and Updates: Is your new provider passionate about not only developing enhancements and innovative new features, but also proactively sharing  them to clients like you? 

10.) Feedback Process: Have you asked about how your provider will both receive and encourage feedback? Are they open to regular check-ins and follow-ups?

11.) Industry Awards: Has your potential new provider been recognized by industry experts and peers? Have they won best-in-class awards? How might those accolades set them apart from others on your short-list? 

12.) Customer Reviews: What are other clients saying about this provider’s product and service? Look at both positive and negative reviews to get a sense for trustworthy advocates and flagged issues. Did your potential provider also respond or resolve issues? 

Tips for Onboarding and Training on New Property Management Software 

Proper onboarding will set your team up for success, both immediately and for a longer-term partnership. There are five tenets to follow for ensuring a smooth onboarding experience and establishing a solid “first impression” across your entire property management company

1.) Transparency 

Communicate early and often with teams. Make sure all parties understand and are reminded about your goals, your current software’s challenges, and the benefits that everyone will enjoy once the new software transition is complete. 

2.) Resources 

Clearly identify a project lead who has dedicated time allotted for driving the success of the migration. Be sure to provide them with additional resources and the flexibility of fewer projects or additional time for unrelated milestones as needed. 

3.) Commitment 

Don’t be indecisive or indicate that the transition is optional. Fully commit to moving to a new software provider and make sure your teams know the decision is final. 

4.) Flexibility 

Let go of your current system’s processes and comfortable familiarities. Keep an open mind and be patient, as improvements won’t happen overnight or by duplicating exactly how you operate today. 

5.) Timing 

Remember how critical it is to allow sufficient time for testing, feedback, and communication with any new service being provided. Provide opportunities for back-and-forth checks and balances prior to fully adopting and launching a new software suite. 

6.) Positivity 

Stay positive, both inwardly and outwardly, among team members. Even though this article is intended to make your migration as smooth and easy as possible, there can be hiccups or unexpected challenges. Remain calm and embrace positivity while remembering that it will all be worth it. 

Tips for Continued Software Partnership Success 

Transitioning to new property management technology is an ongoing process, not a one-time “one and done” scenario. As in any relationship, your software provider partnership will need maintenance, communication, continuous support, resources, and optimizations. 

  • Utilize resources and stay on top of news, new features, and additional tools or offerings that may become relevant for your company over time and as you grow. 
  • Remind your team members where and how to get refresher courses on training, receive online support, or submit support tickets and requests. 
  • Regularly evaluate the performance usage of the new software against your original goals and objectives, and use your platform’s business data to identify areas for important updates or optimization. 
  • Use data and solicit, analyze, and apply feedback from users to refine training programs and improve productivity. 
  • Refine processes, onboarding, and training steps to address issues and ensure ongoing improvements on a consistent basis. Make sure new hires on your team have access to the training resources they’ll need to get the most out of the software.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your service provider contacts, including both positive and constructive updates and check-ins. 

By keeping these tips and best practices in mind, a property management company of any size can smoothly transition to a new and more effective software provider. If you have been postponing a software migration due to concerns of stress, effort, or business interruptions, follow the steps above and remind yourself of the benefits you’ll reap in the long run through this necessary assessment and optimization. 

Wondering if AppFolio is the right fit for your needs? AppFolio has proven to be a stand-out amongst the competition via recent customer-review-based awards, including:

  • Being named a “Leader” in the 2024 G2 Grid for Property Management, a peer-to-peer review site that aggregates user feedback of business software. 
  • Standing out from the crowd with an overall score of 4.5 (out of 5) across all three Gartner Digital Market sites: Capterra, Software Advice, and GetApp.
  • Ranking as a Software Advice 2024 FrontRunner based on user product reviews. 
  • Receiving numerous awards from the Capterra Shortlist 2024, specifically Top Performer in Lease Management Software, Top Performer in Property Management Software, and Emerging Favorite in Real Estate Property Management Software.
  • Being recognized as Category Leaders in Property Management and Lease Management on GetApp

AppFolio offers solutions for a wide variety of property management company sizes, needs, and types. Download our free guide below for more tips on transitioning to new software.

Property management software guide


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