While there are some homeowners associations that receive help from a management company, there are many others that rely solely on the board for guidance. And it is these types of communities that usually require self-managed HOA software.
Features Critical to an Effective Self-Managed HOA Software
At a glance, it may seem like managing a homeowners association is easy. But, there are so many things that go into the process that it almost seems impossible without outside help. For some communities, that means hiring an HOA manager or management firm to pick up some of the slack. Others, though, opt to go for the more traditional route of using self-managed HOA software.
But, with countless options currently on the market, it can be difficult to tell which software is the best for your community. You may feel tempted to just go with the first free HOA software you can find, but taking such a relaxed approach to the selection process might come back to bite you in the end.
With that in mind, here are the four features you should look for in self-managed HOA software.
Accounting and Financial Management
If you ask anyone on an HOA board what the most challenging aspect of running an HOA is, chances are most people will say financial management.
Yet, accounting and financial management remain essential to your operations. Thus, it only makes sense to look for an HOA management software that boasts excellent accounting and financial management modules.
Of course, you can always hire an accountant to do all this work for you, albeit manually. But, with self-managed HOA software, you can do the work yourself and have more control over your association’s finances. Plus, your accountant will find this aspect of your software useful as well.
To break it down further, look for software that offers bookkeeping capabilities, cash flow management, bank reconciliation, financial reporting, and invoice processing. It also helps to have a program readily equipped with an online payment system. Not only will this help you streamline your process but it will also make it easier for both your association and its members to settle balances.
Homeowner communications are one of the more significant yet overlooked aspects of HOA management. People underestimate just how often board members need to distribute information to residents. And while you can get away with some parts of this using email or snail mail, it is wiser to use management software with built-in HOA communication tools.
Many programs allow you to create your regular newsletter right from the software itself, using templates and easy-to-use editing tools. From there, you can send the newsletter directly to homeowners with the help of a native email system. Several programs also come with a website and let you maintain it without hassle. This way, you can keep your online calendar up-to-date and easily upload any crucial documents or make important announcements.
Rule enforcement is definitely one of the more time-consuming parts of managing an HOA community. Board members need to conduct regular inspections for any violations, send out notices to homeowners, track progress, and keep up with reports. All things considered, next to financial management, this task is probably the most taxing.
But, since enforcing the CC&Rs is something every HOA board must do, you can’t just ignore it. You can, however, make the process much easier with help from a self-managed HOA software. Some programs come with a compatible mobile app, which you can use to snap photos of violations during your inspections. Then, you can import this data directly to the software. From there, you can start generating violation letters and automatically update your reports.
Beyond simplifying this aspect of community management, HOA software also allows you to enforce rules in an equal and consistent manner. Say goodbye to complaints and accusations of selective enforcement!
It is the primary job of a homeowners association to maintain the common areas of the community. Staying on top of maintenance tasks, though, does not come easy when done manually. Therefore, it is best to go with HOA software that offers maintenance management and tracking features as well.
With such a module in place, you can create service requests, track their progress, and fulfill work orders with ease. Many programs also allow you to email vendors directly from the software, receive alerts upon the expiry of a vendor’s insurance, and schedule preventive maintenance to address issues before they worsen.
Why You Need a Self-Managed HOA Software
It is easy to dismiss HOA software as “just another tool you buy but won’t use as much.” But, when it comes down to it, self-managed HOA software is something that every homeowners association can benefit from. Here are some of the reasons your HOA should invest in one today.
1. Saves Time
Running a homeowners association, even a small one, can eat up a lot of your time. When you have other priorities to juggle, HOA duties tend to get shoved into the back burner. But, because HOA software automates many of your tasks, the amount of time you need to spend on them is significantly reduced. If your software is cloud-based or comes with a mobile app, you can also do your work remotely.
2. Minimizes Errors
Completing HOA tasks manually opens up plenty of room for errors and inaccuracies. And this is only natural for humans. An HOA management software, though, is largely automated and reduces instances of errors. Some software can even spot inconsistencies in data and point them out to you.
3. Streamlines Processes
A management software eliminates the need for more laborious work and integrates all tasks in one neat place. Because much of the work is automated, it is a more efficient way of managing your community. You also don’t have to worry about important documents getting lost in a mountain of paperwork.
4. Helps With More Difficult Work
As explained above, self-managed HOA software can assist you with work that requires more skill or expertise. This includes accounting, bookkeeping, and financial management. You can prepare your budget, compare it with actual expenses, generate financial statements, and manage your accounts receivable with no worry.
5. Data All in One Place
Whether your software is cloud-based or relies on a local server, you can’t deny that having easy access to data is a huge benefit. When you do things manually, you tend to organize your paperwork into piles or drawers. Searching for documents requires time and a lot of flipping through pages. Software, though, makes this process infinitely simpler. You can search for documents using keywords and organize them with just a few clicks.
6. Makes for an Easy Transition
Board members don’t hold onto their positions forever. In time, you will eventually need to pass on your duties to someone else. Without self-managed software, this usually involves having to hand over digital files and needing to explain where everything is kept. With software, though, the data remains in the same place. This makes the transition much smoother for both outgoing and incoming board members.
An Easier Time for All
After examining all the facts, it is undeniable that self-managed HOA software is essential to your homeowners association. When looking for the best one, though, financial management, communications, rule enforcement, and maintenance tracking are non-negotiable features. These features will not only make your job as a board member simpler, but they will also give residents an easier time.
Condo Manager offers the best HOA management software for self-managed communities. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 for more information or contact us online for a free demo.
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