A lot of property managers and landlords use spreadsheets for a variety of needs. They’re a tried and tested way of storing and organising information, and when used with clever formulas and calculations, they are handy assets that add value to an organisation. But even with the ability to leverage off formulas, spreadsheets still require a lot of manual legwork in having to physically update data to keep information up to date. And this creates more headaches for property management teams.
Let’s take property maintenance tasks as an example. There are a lot of daily notes to update regarding tasks for particular properties, and if they’re using spreadsheets as their sole property management tool, all of the property notes and information refreshing has to be done manually.
So when a burst pipe gets fixed or a leaky air-conditioner gets replaced, the property manager has to jump into the spreadsheet, search for the property, make the changes and save the spreadsheet. A lot of wasted time all because of highly inefficient processes.
Now with the rise of cloud-based software, a lot of tasks that are inherently manual with spreadsheets, can be streamlined.
We have compiled a list of four things that spreadsheets simply can’t do when it comes to property management.
1. They scale poorly
This is arguably one of the biggest downsides to using spreadsheets as your sole property management tool. Scalability, or the ability to grow your portfolio and therefore your business, becomes extremely difficult if you use spreadsheets.
As growth phases hit a business, data naturally gets distributed further across the business. For portfolios made up of over 5 properties, it’s highly recommended to invest in property management software.
The lack of scalability is also evident when a staff member goes on holiday or leaves the business. In this instance, another team member will need to ensure they’re across the departing person’s critical tasks via what’s often an unknown spreadsheet to that individual.
Using spreadsheets does not provide a single source of truth across the business. There normally are multiple versions of spreadsheets across multiple people within the business. This makes it very difficult to have one source of any updated records, and causes a lack of data consistency within the business.
2. They can’t integrate with your other business tools
The ability to integrate with other business apps is another shortfall in spreadsheets – they simply don’t talk to key apps, such as calendars or email inbox applications. When spreadsheets don’t integrate with other systems, it results in the constant double entry of data.
As an example, if a rent payment comes in there’s often a requirement to record that twice – once in the accounting system and again on the spreadsheet(s). Cloud-based systems like Outlook, Re-Leased, and Xero have live integrations via an API which solves this problem.
Consolidation should be top of mind for all property managers. It’s an unattainable goal if spreadsheets form the basis of your property management.
3. They are prone to human error
Spreadsheets require human monitoring and updating, which opens the business up to many risks, including human error. In the property sector this type of risk could have a significant impact on your portfolio.
Often spreadsheets are used in conjunction with other processes in the business and require duplication of work. As an example, if a tenant emails you about a maintenance issue you’re normally also required to update and track this issue on a spreadsheet. Emails, calls, rent, arrears, lease events, maintenance, and inspections most commonly sit at the heart of double-entry issues in the property sector.
4. They can’t be accessed remotely
Google has introduced a cloud-based version of Excel but it’s extremely limited, and it’s not fit for the use of professional, large-scale property management due to the calculation and formula limitations.
So with Excel, as many traditional property management companies can attest, remote access is not an option. Key information that needs to be accessed off-site – say, for example, if an employee is out of the office on holidays or sick – can’t be. It’s that simple.
5. They expose your business to more risks
Compliance management is critical within the estate management function, and there’s a lot of risk that comes with relying on spreadsheets when managing compliance. When a critical compliance task is missed due to human error, the landlord is liable if there is an issue with the property.
If you’re managing tasks that tie back to revenue on spreadsheets, you’re potentially leaving money on the table if a revenue-based task is missed. For example, if a rent review/rent increase date is missed because it’s managed on a spreadsheet then the business is potentially missing revenue increases that are difficult to track and claw back.
6. They can’t update themselves
As touched on earlier, as maintenance and other key tasks get resolved, they need to be reflected in the spreadsheet to make sure everything is up to date. This doesn’t happen automatically in spreadsheets. The physical act of updating spreadsheets is an inefficient process and chews up valuable time that can be spent on revenue-driving activities.
So what's the solution for smarter property management?
So if not spreadsheets, then what is the answer for property organisations that want to increase their efficiency and accuracy?
Re-Leased is a cloud-based property management software tailored to those specifically seeking to move their operations off of spreadsheets. A central platform that you can access on any device that is both easy to use and well-designed on the front end and powerful and secure on the backend. We provide a purpose-built, commercial-first solution that enables landlords and property managers to streamline and automate daily administrative tasks and a gives them a centralised overview of one of their most precious assets, data.
Rather than spend hours updating your outgoings or conducting manual rent reviews, you can automate these tasks and focus on growing your business.
To learn more about how Re-Leased can set your business up for success, reach out for a free demo.