Custom software solutions can make real estate professionals more productive for less cost.
Dan Moore is the founder and CEO at Vaporware, headquartered in Raleigh, NC. After graduating form Georgia Tech, Dan worked for large software companies where he was not close enough to the problems the software was designed to solve. Wanting to be closer to the users with problems he could help, he started his own consulting firm.
Custom software weighs viability, feasibility, and usability. Successful software businesses contain all three.
Custom Software for Real Estate
An example of custom software for real estate that Vaporware has worked on is ServusConnect. This is a software solution for multifamily maintenance scheduling, which helps reduce maintenance time, including the time necessary to turn a unit. The service order is initiated by the resident, and can instantly schedule work on a technician or service provider calendar.
Upon completion of the repair request, the resident receives a satisfaction survey, which feeds the online reputation platforms. A good custom software solution allows the user to communicate easily, collect measurable data, and generate useful reports that enable the user to be more prepared for future events. When data is used properly, you can run a more profitable operation.
Levels of Software
Custom software ranges from fully custom to just one function that plugs into another software platform through API. Dan believes that a combination of customizing off-the-shelf software with new experiences is usually the best use of time and money. If you focus on a single value proposition, then you are able to customize the part you need to the best outcomes. Otherwise, if you try to build the entire solution from the ground up, you end up with mediocre improvements all around.
There are multiple excellent software solutions already available for things like payment collection. If you use MRI or Yardi for your property management software your custom software can plug into and work with these using APIs. Therefore you do not have to build a complete system from the ground up and your staff will not have to be retrained to utilize the UI of your custom software.
Ideas for Custom Software
For any data you collect and track in a spreadsheet, a custom software solution can be created to make data collection easier and more user friendly. Some reasons to consider a custom solution include;
- You have created multiple spreadsheets, and cannot find them when needed. So, you recreate the information.
- You organize information, but are not able to access it on a mobile device when you are in the field.
- Speed of the process is critical
- Standardization of a process is desired
- You work with large data on a regular basis
- Custom communication to many individuals is desired.
When Custom Software Makes Sense
The decision to have custom software created is pretty involved. For organizations that are large enough to adopt the software for your own use. The cost tends to be more justifiable for companies with more than 50 employees and $10+ million in annual revenue.
If you can identify a single problem, and then find others with the same problem, you can start to determine if there is a market for your solution. When there are enough people with the problem who are willing to pay, it can make sense to spend for a custom solution that you could then sell to others.
Depending on your needs, custom software can cost as much as you want to spend. Vaporware approach takes into consideration the clients current solution cost and tries to determine what are the minimum output that will be helpful. Small custom software solutions can start as low as $10K, though may be extremely limited in scope.
User benefits are maximized when the programmer and user are able to communicate to develop specific benefits for the user. More input allows the developer to continue to improve the product so that the end product is easy to use and collects the wanted data. The output allows the company to put the info to future use and improve the outcomes of the process.
Each week I ask my guest, “What is the Biggest Risk Real Estate Investors face?”
"I think the BIGGEST RISK for all of us in our personal, professional lives is speed. Time is a very limited resource for us all. Time is how opportunities come and go. We talked a little bit earlier about being able to know if a property is going to go on the market before it does, being able to operate faster than the competition.
So I would definitely have to say speed. The speed at which we can operate, the speed at which we can save our time and do passive investments and be able to realize value faster and see more opportunities and the right opportunities faster. So anything that we can do to be faster at what we do would help mitigate that risk. Relying on computer processes is a good way to do that.
You can also listen to this in podcast form.
This talk originally appeared here and has been posted with permission from CREPN Radio.