A good commercial property management system goes above and beyond work orders and basic communications. It is the backbone of your business. The heart of operational efficiency in your organization.
The best property management systems will match the specific needs of your company. It is a data machine that streamlines operations in the form of inspections, work orders and maintenance. It mitigates risk. It improves tenant satisfaction. It helps you make smarter decisions based on data and analytics.
It’s a measurement tool – but also a resource to make future decisions and grow your business.
So, choosing the right one is a process you should invest careful time and consideration into.
To that end, this guide will discuss some of the most common and popular solutions and help you determine if they are the right fit for your needs.
What Makes a Good Property Management System?
Before we dive into the features of the top property management systems, let’s first look at what makes a good one.
A good system is designed to be as flexible as your business, to scale as you grow, and to be easy to pick up and use. That means:
- Intuitive Use – You have a diverse team that will need to plug in and be able to use this software immediately. Hard to use software can be devastating not only to efficiency but employee morale.
- Mobile Access – How often are you at your desktop with a keyboard? Most of us work a good part of the day on a tablet or mobile phone while on the go. Your software should be flexible enough to support mobile interaction.
- Offline Access – If you’re in the basement of a building checking a system or meeting with the maintenance crew, you need access to the data in your system. Online only access can make that difficult.
- Insights to Improve – The goal of good property management software is to get better. To improve speed and quality of service, manage costs, improve tenant satisfaction, and ensure quality and safety in equipment and the property itself. The software should provide the tools and insights needed to do just this.
What to Consider When Choosing a Property Management System?
While the core responsibilities of good property management software are mostly operational, the most robust tools can go well above and beyond as needed. So, it’s important to evaluate which factors are most important for your business. Some things include:
- Preventive maintenance
- Tenant satisfaction evaluation
- Incident tracking
- Emergency planning
- Self-service tenant resources
- COI management
- Automation to reduce manual data entry
- Dashboards and reporting for easy analysis
While many of these will be appealing to most commercial real estate companies, not all are strictly necessary, so be sure to take time and evaluate which make the most sense for your business.
Choosing the Right Commercial Property Management System for Your Business
With all of this in mind, it’s time to review the options for your commercial property management. But not all options are created equal. Let’s evaluate each and what they offer:
Appfolio offers an all-in-one software tool for multifamily, single-family, student housing, condo, and commercial property management. It is strictly cloud-based and designed to support ownership, maintenance, support, and marketing tasks, as well as tenant and building management, and accounting.
- Owner Management – An online portal provides access to owner and vendor eChecks, owner contributions, and communication with owners.
- Maintenance – Online maintenance requests, a contact center, work orders and mobile inspections are all supported.
- Support – The support modules offer training and support contacts, a team section, and data migration.
- Marketing – There is a marketing resource available that includes rent comparison, website development, vacancy management, and lead generation.
- Residents and Leasing – Here, there are several features including an online renter portal, online lease management, task management, texting and email, and mobile app.
- Accounting – Appfolio supports online payments, reporting, debt collection, bulk charges, holding deposits, late fees and security support.
Building Engines offers a suite of available tools and modules to match your specific property management needs. The software is cloud and mobile based, allowing for easy access and management on the go.
- Tenant Service – Online tools for tenant access where they can submit requests, access their paperwork, and communicate with both maintenance and ownership.
- Maintenance – Automation and reporting on maintenance tasks for your portfolio, supported with both web and mobile access.
- Risk Management – Tools to reduce exposure to risk, maintain safety in the building and reduce overall expenses for insurance and liability protection.
- Reporting – Real time reporting for operations, trend reports over time and annual summaries for your entire portfolio or on an occupant or building basis.
Yardi offers several software and service solutions for property management and marketing. Their commercial suite and property management software work with their Voyager platform, designed specifically for larger firms and investors, supporting commercial property and financial management for a range of needs.
- LeasingPad – A mobile supported solution for lease management, combined with prospect and contact management.
- Business Intelligence and Reporting – Detailed analysis and dashboards for operational and financial data.
- Budgeting and Forecasting – Planning tools for evaluating expenses and accounting all in one place.
- Paperless Procurement – A centralized procurement tool allows paperless execution of online catalogs, workflows, invoice processing and more.
- Maintenance Support – Manage maintenance with preventive, routine, and emergency service on both desktop and mobile. Options are available for inspection management, fixed assets, and inventory control.
RealPage was founded in 1998 and is in Richardson Texas, with 11,000 clients around the world. They offer a range of products in property management, sales and marketing, and general support for commercial and non-commercial property managers. RealPage property management is designed to provide support across a range of different areas.
- Accounting and Budgeting – Support for simplifying financial processes and creating and managing budgets in one place to save time.
- Facilities Management – Maintenance service requests, work order management, and resource orders.
- Document Management – A single central location to storage electronic records for tenant, vendor, and maintenance interactions.
- Spend Management – High level spend management resources for overseeing expenses on a per unit basis, including purchasing and vendor services.
AwareManager is a full-scale facilities management tool used in some of the country’s most iconic properties. As such, they offer one of the more comprehensive suite of tools for commercial real estate and corporate facilities, depending on your specific needs.
- Work and Project Management – Keep track of work status, projects, and planned maintenance.
- Scheduling – Staff, resource, and room reservation as well as related activities and planning.
- Maintenance – Maintenance scheduling, planned work on assets, equipment upgrades, and inspections.
- Contract Management – Input and manage contracts and any information related to governance of contracts.
- Stakeholders – Tracks all requests and responses for stakeholders, including staff, tenants, workers, vendors, owners, and contractors.
- Risk Management – Establish and manage risk ledgers, insurance certificates, incidence reporting, and RAG analysis.
MRI Commercial Management System
Based in Cleveland, MRI Software has been producing applications and solutions for real estate companies for nearly 50 years, today offering a suite of property management systems for commercial, multi-family, corporate, and investment purposes. Their Commercial Management System offers property management, building and tenant operations management, financial reporting, several API features.
- Automation and Workflow Capabilities – Automation in MRI is designed to reduce manual input and streamline recurring activities.
- Configurable Reporting – Reporting modules are available for output on several key data points.
- Configurable Dashboards – Dashboards allow quick visualization of real time data for commercial real estate companies.
- Accounting Engine – The accounting tools in MRI offer accounts payable, general ledger and reporting modules.
Electronic Tenant Solutions
Electronic Tenant Solutions offers operations, communications, risk management, reservations, leasing, marketing and energy management features for your property portfolio in a single interface. These applications can be packaged to match your specific needs.
- Custom Application Packages – Choose packages to match your property type including leased properties, sustainable properties, prepared properties and SOP/Employee portals.
- Risk Management – Risk profiling that helps to lower liability exposure, reducing excess administrative work, and improve property preparedness.
- Operations Systems – A suite of operations tools for vendors, staff, and engineers, including automated workflows for maintenance, service requests and staff management.
- Energy Management – Analysis and management tools to reduce energy consumption and costs and support Energy Star reporting.
- Leasing and Marketing – Resources for property presentations, availability tracking, and activity.
Angus Systems has been helping commercial buildings and CRE businesses manage operations for decades, with software development dating back to the 1980’s. Today, their Angus AnyWhere commercial property management solution is a cloud based solution with a suite of tools available for everything you do in your business each day.
- Communication Systems – Notify and response systems, property website development support, tenant handbooks, and surveys all run through the backend.
- Operations and Maintenance – Automation and streamlining of everyday operations include service requests, preventive maintenance scheduling, mobility platform, reservations for building resources and inspections.
- Risk Management – Manage your certificate of insurance, visitor security management, and emergency preparation plans.
- Billing and Reporting – Service schedules and billing rules can be set in the backend, along with several billing integrations, estimates, and a comprehensive reporting module for analytics.
- Green Performance – Measure green building performance with Energy and Environmentally Conscious Operations in the backend (EECO).
There are quite a few options when selecting a commercial property management system for your business. As you can see, each of them offers something unique in a slightly different package.
There is no right answer as to which is best. What matters most is that you evaluate the specific needs of your organization, and which system best meets those needs on a recurring basis.
Whether you need something basic and entry level for a single small property or you need a more robust system for a larger portfolio of commercial properties and existing tenants, take some time to evaluate which will make the most sense for your business.