Considering setting up or upgrading your real estate back office software system? There are so many options on the market, the journey of finding the right application for your office can be overwhelming.
But like searching for any other product, you will need selection criteria to filter your choices and make an informed decision.
We recommend checking these things with your potential back-office vendor:
Can it deliver our major jobs to be done?
Is it easy to use?
Does it integrate with the right applications?
Is it secure?
Does it have the appropriate level of support?
Is the price in your budget?
Let’s look at each in turn.
1. Can it deliver our major jobs to be done?
The first and most obvious point for consideration is whether or not the system can meet your needs. But what does that mean exactly?
An easy framework for understanding your own needs is to consider what are the outputs, and why you need them. What you need done and why.
This is known as the ‘jobs to be done’ framework, which is often used in the software world when considering features.
An example of a job to be done:
“I need the system to generate forecast reports, so I know how much income is coming in next month.”
“I need the system to show me how my agents are doing, so I can assign mentors and coaches to lower performing agents.”
A benefit of this framework is that you can also open your requirements to achieving your outcomes, provided that your ‘why’ is satisfied.
Consider the second example. If the output is a way to see how your agents are doing, does it matter if the stats are shown by downloadable reports? Or better still, interactive dashboards?
With a list of your jobs to be done, you will know which items you need, why, and will be able to evaluate whether the application can achieve those to the right level.
2. Is it easy to use?
Now that you have clarified what features you need and why, it is recommended to consider how easy the system is to use.
While you may require a particular report, for example, it makes no sense if generating that report takes 10 different steps, toggling 20 different settings.
If that is the case, you may be better off with a less powerful system that lets you achieve a smaller scale of your requirements, without frustrating your team.
To check ease of use, consider road testing or requesting a walkthrough demonstration of each of the jobs to be done that you previously identified. It may be eye opening to see exactly how your requirements are met.
3. Does it integrate?
We can take it for granted that cloud applications can talk to each other, but don’t sleep on this requirement.
A system that plays nicely with others is a system that saves you countless hours and heart-ache. Not only this, but if your system can integrate with others, you will be able to achieve extra capabilities beyond the system itself.
For example, if the application can integrate with another application that is better at a particular aspect or has features that your original application is missing.
4. Is it secure?
Security is a consideration easily overlooked when evaluating a back-office system. However, it is important to make sure your system is secure so that you can both share the right level of information with outside users, such as accountants, and protect yourself against data leaks or privacy breaches.
While most cloud applications should be developed to be as user-friendly as possible, it is not a question of if but when you will need a little help. If your organization is very tech savvy, you may require less technical support for the application than others.
In any case, be sure to check that your vendor is willing to support you with an onboarding plan and at least email or ticket support when you need it.
6. Is it within budget?
Here, we’ve put budget as the last considering. The why is because if a system doesn’t actually provide any meaningful value for your requirements above, why are you even considering investing in it?
With the right features and requirements met, you will be well placed to finally ask the question whether they are within your budget.
While every organization takes a different approach to evaluating price, one helpful way to consider the question is to consider how many admin hours your back office system will save you per day, week, month or year, then weigh the cost of those hours against the cost of the system.
We hope this article was useful in guiding you towards choosing the right software application for your real estate back-office. While you may add your own particular criteria, this list may provide a solid foundation for filtering and evaluating your options.