The Evolution of Software
Multifamily organizations often exhale when all the nuances of their software system are firmly in place. And by the time that breath is complete, it’s quite possible that something has already shifted in the industry that requires another tweak of the system.
For cutting-edge operators, this isn’t daunting as much as it is reality. They are constantly analyzing industry data, submarket trends and morphing resident behaviors, and they know they must be agile enough to adjust on the fly.
They need software capable of doing the same, as a panel discussed at the 2022 Entrata Summit session The Evolution of Software: Where Technology Shifts are Taking Place and How Companies are Adapting to Put the Best Solutions in Place.
“When you invest in new technologies and have to be able to measure those new technologies, it underscores the necessity of having a single-stack platform,” said Chris Rodriguez, Vice President of IT and Operations for Passco. “It is a really important driver to us as an operator, specifically with data aggregation.”
Rodriguez said that the efficiency component—automating mundane tasks to free teams to concentrate on high-level initiatives— remains most crucial and operators should start there with any technology stack. Organizations then can cater tech to their specific needs, whether it’s more robust data analysis, measuring employee performance, beefing up fraud prevention or creating efficiencies in resident communication.
“Training is the single-most important component with the software,” Rodriguez said. “Onsite personnel have to know how to use it and why. Continued education is paramount, as well.”
Willowick Residential had a unique situation in that the company started in 2020 and onboarded its tech stack shortly after the start of the pandemic.
“We decided the heart of the shutdown in April and May would be a great time to start the transition,” Lisa Newton, Senior Vice President of Multifamily Operations for Hines/Willowick said with a laugh. “For us, it’s been just trying to stay up.”
Newton said a single-stack platform has aided immensely from an efficiency standpoint and is continuing to assist as Willowick moves to more of a best-in-class portfolio.
Steve Hallsey, Managing Director for Wood Partners, said organizations should be careful to consider the disruption component when implementing tech. They should balance whether any software implementations will be worth the potential strain on onsite teams, he said, adding that choosing a true software partner rather than just a provider can help ease the transition.
Wood Partners has earned three straight ORA Awards for online reputation, and Hallsey said well-trained associates who are comfortable with the “why” behind any tech implementations always reflect better to residents and prospects.“
There is always better buy-in when people know how it will help them,” he said.
Hallsey, a longtime industry veteran and a former defensive coordinator for the University of Utah, also alluded to the idea that tech has periphery benefits for the industry, as well.
“I think the biggest benefit we’ve seen from technology is that we’ve attracted really, really smart people into the industry,” Hallsey said. “It’s taking technology to the next level and making it effective, efficient and usable for our residents, prospects and us as operators.”