January 1 2005
Developed in the classroom, Property Solutions has hit the streets running as it delivers innovative and streamlined property management processes.
Some of today's biggest success stories such as Microsoft and Apple, had humble beginnings in a college dormitory or garage. What sparked these businesses to take off and emerge as major forces in national and even global commerce are the innovative solutions these fledging companies brought to their industries. In short, they found radical new ways to solve problems and make processes more efficient. After all, this is the ultimate purpose of technology.
While enrolled at Brigham Young University's Center for Entrepreneurship, David Bateman and Benjamin Zimmer developed Property Solutions, a new entry into the property management software market that offers online property management software tools. Zimmer serves as president of the new firm and Bateman as CEO. Fortune Small Business magazine awarded the company's founders first place in the "MBA Showdown" for best business plan from a leading business school. In addition to the recognition, the winners received a $50,000 prize.
That same spirit of entrepreneurship and out of the box problem solving shown by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at the start of their careers characterize the efforts of Bateman and Zimmer. After hearing his wife complain about the shortcomings of property management software at her job managing a midsize apartment portfolio, Bateman wondered if other managers faced similar problems.
Property Solutions organized teams of students from two major universities to research the experiences and satisfaction level of property managers with the software they used. The research team surveyed more than 450 property management companies in the Western United States and found similar dissatisfaction with the software used by managers.
Bateman and Zimmer knew from their research that they were entering an already crowded field with strongly entrenched competitors offering solid products. To succeed, they would have to find a niche and exploit it in a way that would capture the interest of property management companies. The niche they chose was to develop programs to help managers automate rent collection, leasing and maintenance request processing, freeing managers to devote their time and attention to residents and boost profitability by eliminating workflow inefficiencies. They also designed their applications to reduce the stress many managers felt in undertaking their essential tasks.
The solution they developed can save managers up to five days each month over the time-consuming traditional methods for processing rent payments.
"When we went to the drawing board, our focus was on developing applications based on simplicity and ease of use," says Zimmer. "Our portal solution is different than anything else on the market--we used best of breed programming and development strategies. Another advantage is that our applications provide seamless integration with Yardi Systems and other property management software making transitions easier for property management companies."
The Property Solutions Difference
When it comes to evaluating software, the most common error made by end-users is judging applications based on the array of functions offered rather than on the programs' usability and effectiveness in accomplishing tasks.
The misconception is largely due to the software industry's tendency to hype the features as if packing them with every conceivable function provides greater value to the user. Far too often, users are overwhelmed by the disproportionate number of functions an application performs. By packing the applications with more features than the most sophisticated users will ever need, many software programs become unwieldy and too difficult.
The complexity of these programs then requires additional cost to train users and extends the time in which it takes for individuals to get up and running. This scenario seems to defy the basic concept of technology and automation's purpose: to simplify and speed up work processes.
Two examples of software applications illustrate these problems. Microsoft Word, now the market's dominant word processor, has over the years become bloated with so many features and functions that the majority of end-users never use. As a result, the software has become more complex to use and its speed in tackling tasks has slowed.
The second example is photo editing applications. The leading application in this segment has been Adobe's PhotoShop Pro. While PhotoShop contains a dizzying array of features and enjoys a fanatical following among graphics professionals and professional photographers, its steep learning curve has led many users to seek simpler programs. This flaw opened up the market to competitors such as Microsoft Picture It, Jasc PaintShop Pro, and Adobe's own PhotoShop Elements as alternatives to PhotoShop Pro.
Property Solutions has adopted this same approach in developing its applications, which offer integrated rent payment (ResidentPay), website development and management (ResidentPortal), and property management (ResidentWorks) applications. These applications are web-based, offering anytime/anywhere access via web browsers and contain powerful management features that speed up many routine, mundane tasks.
"Since our launch we've been overwhelmed by the response for our portal and rent payment systems," says Zimmer. "We've added such new clients as Pinnacle and Western National Group. Venues such as the NMHC technology conference have given us an opportunity to showcase our applications to the industry."
The company's recent entry into the market may spark a new phase of competition and raise the bar for enhancing ease of use among developers of property management software.
Property Solutions International, Inc.
522 South 100 West
Provo, UT 84601
877-826-9700 Toll Free