Like the universe, Area 51 and the ingredients of a hotdog, people don’t let a lack of knowledge stop them from talking endlessly about this now ubiquitous tech.
“We work in the cloud now.”
“Don’t worry, it’s all backed up in the cloud.”
“We wouldn’t have these problems if we were cloud-based.”
These sort of comments can paint the cloud as a fix-all, without revealing exactly how these fixes happen. This only serves to heighten the already mystical aura of the cloud, leading to everyone wanting a piece of it, but few truly knowing why.
As an industry that prides itself on innovation and early adoption, those in real estate are as cloud-crazed as any. But why?
To find out, let’s take a closer look at the cloud, and more specifically everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cloud property software. What it is, how it works and why you need it.
What is cloud property software?
To understand cloud property software, we first need to understand the basics of the underlying technology.
The cloud is a system of on-demand computing resources, most commonly data storage or computing power. Files and programs are stored and operated in remote data centres, which are the true physical representations of the cloud – less white fluffy things in the sky than warehouses full of silicon and wire. This means that the laborious physical maintenance of the hardware is left to the cloud service provider, rather than the end user.
But while the hardware might be remote, the user retains ultimate control of its functionality. If you choose your provider wisely you’ll enjoy all the perks of top-of-the-range computing systems, without the costliness and endless upkeep that it would usually require.
Cloud property software is a subsect of cloud computing designed for the real estate industry. It allows agencies, property managers and others in the sphere to streamline their operations with cloud-based communication, inspection, maintenance and accounting functionality. It allows you to utilise smart tools and store endless amounts of data, making your operation more streamlined, effective and scalable than ever.
It’s fair to say that the hype is not just confined to the watercooler. It’s real.
Cloud property software benefits
But what are the specific, tangible, real-world benefits to cloud property software?
Lower cost: No bulky servers to buy and maintain. No IT staff to hire. No related costs like licensing fees and electricity bills. Simply pay (a surprisingly low rate) for what you use, be it storage, a service, or computing power.
Greater accessibility: If you’ve got an internet connection, you’ve got secure access to all of your data and systems. This means you can run end of month at an open home or from a beach in Bali. The choice is yours.
Easier collaboration: Grant your entire team, and even your clients, access to specific data, documents and systems, and seamlessly collaborate wherever you or they might be.
Stronger security: With security updates often few and far between, legacy computing systems are far more susceptible to attack. But with greater resources and a sharper security focus, you can be confident your cloud data is safe. Authentication gateways, sophisticated firewalls and physical security measures are just some of the features that are standard across the cloud.
Effortless backup and recovery: No manual processes needed. All your data and information is automatically backed up to the cloud.
Unrivalled scalability: The cloud grants you scalability that is virtually unlimited. Want to be the next Airbnb? Go for it, friend. Whenever you need more storage space, more computing power or a greater array of features, simply pay a little extra to be granted access.
Essential cloud property software features
You understand what cloud property software is. You understand why you need it. But what are the specific features that a top tier solution will offer? Here are 10 that you should be on the lookout for.
Online in the cloud: Your data should be stored remotely, but should be instantly accessible via the internet.
Full property accounting functionality: By transferring your entire accounting system to an automated cloud-based model, you can enjoy greater security and stability while saving yourself hours at the end of every month.
Mobile apps: Ensure you can access everything on the go with a linked smartphone app.
Streamlined communication: Features like messaging automation and owner/tenant access allow for efficient communication.
Job tracking: As a core part of property management, your cloud solution should be capable of logging and tracking maintenance work.
Inspection planning: Similarly, a good solution will have the ability to create a route for inspections and generate entry/exit logs.
Compliance reporting: Look for features that help you to keep a clean paper trail by organising documents and alerting you to incomplete tasks, such as those relating to trust account audits.
Support: Is there help available when you get stuck? The best solutions will offer comprehensive support, whether through easy to follow guides or customer service assistance.
Unlimited users: Why should you be penalised for growth? Look for a solution that grants you access to an unlimited amount of users at no extra cost.
High end data security: Things like two-factor authentication, bank-level 128 bit SSL encryption, notification of unknown logins, advanced firewalls and physical security measures should serve as minimums, not optional extras.
How to choose the best cloud property software
Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to go shopping. But rather than diving right in, a more measured approach is advised. Something like our patented* six step property management software shopping checklist.
*This list is not patented.
1. Leverage your network: What do other industry players use? What do they think of their solutions?
2. Understand your needs: What issues are you trying to solve? Which features will you need in the future?
3. Compare your options: Line solutions up, and see which tick the required boxes. Once you have your finalists, seek feedback from their current users.
4. Obtain quotes: How much will the top contenders cost, and what do you get for your investment?
5. Take a test drive: Sign up for a free demo and see how each solution feels. If a demo isn’t offered, alarm bells should ring.
6. Check the ease of migration: Now a race between one or two solutions, check which will offer the most pain-free migration of your business systems and data.
Once you’ve worked your way through these six steps, you should arrive at a clear, standout software choice for your business.
So now that you’re armed with everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cloud property software, you’re not only better prepared for those cloud-based watercooler conversations, you’re also capable of choosing a solution that will ensure your organisation isn’t held back by technology, but is instead enhanced by it.
Rather than a mystery to rival the ingredient list of a hotdog, the cloud is surprisingly easy to understand when you set your mind to it. And the benefits of doing so, for those in the real estate industry at least, are immense.
Thanks for reading this blog on the cloud property software! You might also be interested in How this Property Manager Saves Her Business $3,437 Every Month and How PropertyMe is Different.