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Is automation really making property management easier?

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It’s difficult to imagine 21st century life without automation – and even more difficult to imagine how the COVID-19 lockdown would work without the technology that lets us cut out the paperwork to enable us to work from home.

But now that we’re all relying on it so much more, it’s easier to see which types of automation make our work more efficient – and which don’t. That’s certainly true in property management, where traditional software developers have mostly ignored the time-saving promise of automation – treating it instead as a futuristic gloss to apply to legacy workflow management systems.

The big difference

What difference does it make? If you have a lot of spare time on your hands, then possibly none, and legacy property management software might be for you. But as your ‘automated’ property management system walks you through your third consecutive hour of manual payment matching and then you are faced with the task of matching all of this back to your bank statement, an uncomfortable realization may start to dawn on you: you haven’t really automated anything. You’re just being ordered around by a machine.

Paranoid, right? But maybe not. What about that task that tells you to send out your invoices today? Or upload your payment file? And then there’s the monthly trust account reconciliation, and figuring out which genius tenant decided to reference his payment only as ‘RENT’. We just see these as 'part of the job' - but should they really be?

Bring back the dream of automation

Sure, the property management software machine knows that these tasks need to be done and reminds you to do them. But what happened to the dream of automation – where machines would do these mundane tasks for you? Does the software work for you, or do you work for it? It’s not just inconvenient – when you compare it to the alternative, it’s almost dystopian.

Is it really too much to ask to have payments come in pre-reconciled to each individual property? To have outgoing payments owed on that property set up to be paid the moment the funds are cleared? To push a single button and have all your payments for that day done – and the receipts sent to tenants and owners? To have that proof of payment stored securely on the platform for your next round of audits?

What a dream it would be if tenant and owner statements could populate themselves with live bank data. Crazier still, imagine if an intelligent piece of code could match incoming payments to the right tenants based on a split-second analysis of your entire arrears list. And we haven’t even touched on automated trust account reconciliation, or fully reconciled owner and tenant statements sent out on your behalf.

This might sound futuristic, but it’s the present that we are perfecting every day at PayProp. We make it our life’s mission to get our bank-integrated, automated, cloud-based platform to do more and more of the legwork – so that you have less and less to worry about, wherever you are.

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