Online Property Management Software

I was recently onsite with a client that’s been with us for over 6 years. They run a boutique property management company of about 200 properties and they won’t mind me saying they’re not the most technologically savvy company around. In fact the reason I was there was because they’d recently purchased new computers, replacing their Windows XP machines with Windows 7. Without knowing it, their purchased computers included only a trial version of Microsoft Office which expired after 30 days. So – what were they to do? Go and purchase two new copies of Microsoft Office?

Well, maybe not. Of course, like most, they use Word for letters, Excel for the odd spreadsheet and Outlook to manage their emails; however due to the cost and work involved, it’s pretty much at this stage that something like Google Apps starts looking attractive. Even the free version of Google Apps is able to provide a number of advantages over traditional installed software. First of all it can be used via any internet there’s a free version. This standard edition provides up to 7GB of email storage per user which is more then enough for most users. The calendar is easy to use, can be shared easily between all users and accessed from anywhere. The word and spreadsheet functions may not be as fancy as office, but they get the job done. A lot of people are also unaware that they can still use their same email address via Google Apps email. So you won’t have a @gmail.com extension to your email but continue to have a @yourdomain.com extension.

By its very nature, Google Apps allow any company to become far more agile, basically bypassing the expenses invested by larger more traditional companies. Very little needs to be invested in setting up IT infrastructure which means cuts to costs and complexity. It can certainly help smaller companies get a jump on bigger rivals since emails, documents and calendars can now be accessed from anywhere and shared between users of the same company.

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But it’s not only for start-ups or small companies. Even existing companies can take the advantage of switching to Google Apps. Look at it this way. Every few years traditional companies have had to upgrade their servers, install updated operating systems, invest in backups and spend money to have IT issues sorted out. Then every time a new version of the software is released, there’s the expense of purchasing, installing and time spent learning the new layout. And then of course, you’ve got to make sure it’s all backed up. Why go through that when all you need is access to the internet.

There’s a general trend toward moving software to the web and you may be surprised to see who’s doing it:

In April, the City of Los Angeles government choose to deploy Google Apps over Microsoft Office. They have over 30,000 users and gave 3 reasons for their change:

· a severe budget deficit

· IT staff shortage

· dissatisfaction with the current office software system.

The IT staff has been cut from about 800 people to 500 and with fewer people it was getting harder to maintain in-house systems.While an organization with more cash may have chosen Microsoft Office, there were concerns about the IT department’s ability to support an in-house mail system. Additionally, the city is in an earthquake zone but lacked a disaster-recovery system. The answer: placing e-mail in Google’s data centers would be a better way to guarantee uptime. The chief information officer of the city of Los Angeles, Randi Levin, said expense played a major part in their decision. She also added that “it took a lot of our resources and time to run an in-house e-mail system. We didn’t have a disaster-recovery solution for e-mail, which was quite concerning, living in an earthquake zone.”

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As far as property management companies go, they’re not on the same scale in terms of users, but the advantages are the same. Murray Ireland of Ireland Property Management in Christchurch, New Zealand, made the switch to Google Apps a few months ago.

“If you have been using outlook for 100 years like me you will have a few weeks transitioning but it is worth the perseverance,” says Murray, “believe me, you won’t look back.” He used the services of a third company to do the transition over 2 weeks and mentions that if you have trust accounting software that is tied to Microsoft Office, then you may still need to maintain these anyway.

Property management trust accounting software is at the core of this business type, and the advantage is certainly with those who use online trust accounting software as well. PalaceLive is one such solution. For more information go to http://www.realbaselive.com



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