The Technology Balancing Act

Ah, technology. Every new piece of hardware or software promises to improve our lives or our business, to make things easier or more efficient, to change our world for the better. Yet, many times, those promises are never realized and our lives get more complicated, more hectic and stressful, and our business more complex. That’s why it would be worth your time to read Units Magazine’s article on the technology balancing act. Here are a few excerpts to give you a taste:

Juggling demands generated by technology with longstanding responsibilities is only part of the issue. Technology feeds real-time occupancy, pricing and online review information to third-party clients, joint venture partners, residents and potential residents.

Start with reputational management — a thorn in the side of many community managers. While residents might not be coming through the door with complaints as much as they once did, they now take their issues to review sites for the world to see. Responding to those reviews is a responsibility most management firms think should be handled at the community level…

Beyond the data that many systems produce and the influences of that data, learning new software can be a challenge. French says, that at any given time, there are between 10 and 13 types of software or systems with which her community teams must interact.

“You have to know how to use Microsoft products, different surveys and different online tools,” French says. “You receive more email today and more attention to detail is required. You have to up your game or you won’t be able to compete…

With the plethora of new demands technology has created for community managers, many are finding it difficult to prioritize their day.

Choosing what to focus on during complex onsite management situations, senior executives tend to want their managers to focus on one thing—the customer. Assuaging the concerns of residents who have questions about their rent increases or responding to customer service requests takes priority.

Gables’ site-level employee compensation, for example, is based on their leasing and resident satisfaction scores…

While technology potentially can create a frazzled onsite team, at the same time, it has greatly reduced the time necessary to complete common tasks.

“We can do in minutes many of the things that onsite staff used to take hours to do, such as approving invoices,” says Cooley. “Today, I can pay 40 invoices through our software in four minutes (not four hours).”…

Despite those advances, Sullivan cautions that companies should do their due diligence before implementing new technology.

“It sounds easy to utilize technology to be more efficient, but in some cases, it adds more work,” Sullivan says. “I think that is where we need to be thoughtful and understand the overall impact and not assume every new technological idea will be valuable in our day-to-day business practices.”

You can read the entire article here.