Are your business processes slowing you down?

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One of my favorite sayings in IT world (besides “I can’t get the modem to turn on”) is “We’ve always done it that way.” Let’s face it, when you do the same thing year in and year out you develop habits. When you’ve stared at your Property management software as much as many of us have, you stop looking for different features or reports. You get grounded into the same methods. Are those methods the quickest, most efficient and give you the best information? I can tell you from experience that the answer is usually no.

I am the IT Manager for Maryland Management. One of my core job functions is designing, maintaining and programming our company’s intranet site. When we decide to automate something internally I talk to all the players involved and ask them to outline their steps and how they perform them. 9 times out of 10 some adjustments can be made to how they work. These adjustments can dramatically speed up their productivity.

Creating software which can make everyone’s job easier is what I do. If a leasing agent can cut back on the time he or she spends in front of the PC, they have more time to answer the phone (see the great blog post from Amanda Schneider which matches my view on the importance of answering the phone), show apartments, and spend more time retaining existing residents.

Besides cleaning up redundant or outdated processes, training can also play a big role in increasing your productivity. This great article demonstrates where I’m coming from. Confused or unsure people are always less productive. Have a go to person in your organization who takes calls concerning questions on procedures and policies. Have training manuals available for people who need to reference them. Schedule on-site re-training or improvement seminars to show people new features or filling them in on things they might have forgotten. Additionally it’s nice to offer a tiered training system. New tiers can be earned when tests are passed and competency has been shown in the skill sets necessary. Need someone to step into a manager position at a property? Using a tiered system can provide you a pool of qualified employees that you can choose from.

Before you launch off into trying every single new online venture can you look within yourself to shore up the inconsistencies and poor processes that can develop in every organization? Does this soul searching help rent apartments? I think so. It’s hard to measure an increase in productivity on the bottom line. There’s no source code for it. It won’t show in your cost per lease report. I’d be willing to bet though that if managed properly it would show up in your NOI. Just a hunch.

Happy renting everyone…

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