EPMEPM: Productivity

How to build an effective workflow (and why you need one)

When it comes to running a sleek property management division or managing a portfolio with ease, it all comes down to one key thing: efficiency. Kasey McDonald examines how technology is here to help.

There are a growing number of digital tools that can help a property manager improve workflow to drive efficiency. However, as property managers we have a tendency to want to complicate processes, which can result in clunky workflow and long nights of eating dinner at our computer.

Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time auditing property managers and their workflows, and it’s clear to me that there is a direct correlation between effective workflow and property managers who are at the top of their game. They’re efficient. Everything they do is underpinned by a well-defined process. And they’re not afraid to use technology to make that workflow just that bit easier and quicker.

So if you’re looking to play a bigger property management game and you want to use technology to get your workflows super-defined so you’re super-efficient, start with these tips.

WHY EFFICIENCY?

Remember, everything you do as a property manager impacts on bottom line, and while you mightn’t pay much attention to this, it means the world to your boss. Efficiency drives bottom line.

The better a manager can clearly define regular processes, the more efficient the team becomes. This saves overall time, making the team more effective and able to do more with less stress or frustration. The more efficiently and effectively you do these processes, the better you can do your job – and hopefully go home at a decent hour.

WHERE TO START

To streamline work processes and improve workflow, assess the entire operation from top to bottom, looking for areas of improvement. As a leader, look at what you are currently doing and ask for feedback from existing staff about what frustrates them in the day and what is working well. Conduct an office inventory, starting from the filing system (if you still have a manual system). Evaluate the use of paper in the office, including how checklists and forms are used, processed and archived.

There is a direct correlation between effective workflow and property managers who are at the top of their game.

DON’T OVER-AUTOMATE

Streamlining processes to drive efficiency is great, as long as you don’t remove the elements that make up great customer service. Full automation can sometimes take the personal touch out of the property manager-to-landlord communication and can dilute relationships in the process. Integrate clever technologies that can help, not hinder.

QUICK, EASY TECH TO START

If you’re still using a lot of manual processes, you might want to start with some basic drive-sharing to centralise templated documents. Google Drive or Dropbox are both great places to start and can be easily accessed by everyone in the office any time, anywhere. This means you can start to get rid of the old filing cabinet – and everything in it. All documents can be filed in this one location and can be accessed by those whom the file is digitally ‘shared’ with. Electronic signature software like DocuSign can also make signing basic documents a lot easier and quicker for all parties.

TECH FOR TASKS

I find a lot of property managers are reluctant to implement technology, because they are so used to their manual systems; they can’t be bothered changing over. This is to their own detriment. For instance, platforms like Trello and Process St make it easy to automate tasks and checklists that require input by other colleagues.

Consider a process where you do three steps of a checklist, then the system automatically notifies the next colleague to complete their part, with auto-reminders until it is complete. It allows for easier management of multiple tasks and processes at the one time, and can not only minimise time but help reduce some of the errors arising from manual handling. Remember, the top ten per cent of businesses in this industry are heavily investing in and adopting technology; perhaps you should too.

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Kasey Mcdonald

Kasey McDonald is a consultant and trainer at BDM Academy. She is also the Managing Director of PMT Academy and the Co-Founder of Real Estate Training Group (RETG).

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