How To Choose The Right Property Management Software: A Guide For CRE

If you asked someone from your operations department what they value most in property management tool, there’s a pretty good chance that efficiency-oriented features (like workflow automation) would be high on the list. If you ask your marketing team the same question, however, chances are they’ll be prioritizing user-friendly content editors and event managers, or maybe a comprehensive data dashboard.

The takeaway here is this: there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right property management software. What’s more, a simple search for “best property management software” will leave you swamped with a laundry list of options.

If you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we break down the key features and functionality an ideal property management technology should have, and how you can identify the best option for your business.

Must-haves for property management software

1. Configurability

The best property management software should be usable out-of-the-box while at the same time offering in-depth configurability so you can tailor each and every element to suit your properties’ unique needs. With the right solution, you should be able to customize your setup down to each specific building within your portfolio—from tenant access, to user permissions, to brand look and feel, and more—while still deploying globally. The ability to fine-tune the tenant experience at each property is key—because at the end of the day, no two buildings are the same. And if 2020 showed us anything, it’s that you need to be able to react, adapt, and evolve. That’s what configurability is for.

2. No-Code Editing

Configurable software is great, but only if it’s easy for your property teams to actually make those changes. Customizing pages and settings shouldn’t require a dedicated web developer;. on the contrary, your building management staff should be able to tailor content, events, pages, and permissions quickly, easily, and intuitively, through a mixture of check boxes and “drag-and-drop” style interfaces. That’s the “no-code” philosophy.

3. Workflow Automation

When it comes to choosing the right property management software, you obviously want something that will increase operational efficiency. Yet of all the ways that technology can help things run more quickly and smoothly in the workplace, one of the least talked about yet most important ways it can do so is through something called “automation.” Automation refers to the ability of software to make routine tasks happen not just faster, but automatically, taking literally no time out of your team’s day whatsoever. Look for a property management tool that will let you automate away routine processes like approving room bookings, sending reminders to tenants,  communicating status updates, and more. 

With Lane, for example, you can set up notification flows for work orders, deliveries, cleaning, waste management, and so much more.

4. Powerful User Management

There are plenty of different roles involved in managing commercial properties—portfolio and asset managers, building managers, operations staff, marketing teams, security teams, and so on—not to mention the different types of tenants you may have—from buttoned-up law firms and banks, to free-wheeling tech startups, to food and beverage purveyors and other kinds of retailers and services. Add to that more specific groups like “key contacts” for each tenant, fire wardens, etc., and the need to manage multiple user groups becomes clear. 

Given the number of different players in the workplace ecosystem, a good property management platform should allow you to a) define a number of different roles, groups, types and tiers, b) target content and messaging to each (as needed), and most importantly c) customize what functionality each group is able to access. From the individual tenant, to the on-site property manager, all the way up the portfolio manager, each user type should have “permission” do certain things but not others, as appropriate. 

5. Data and Analytics

Understanding how tenants use your properties—and in particular which amenities, events, and services they prefer—can help you prioritize your tenant engagement efforts, optimize your spaces, and drive strategic decision-making overall.

Lane’s Data Dashboard allows you to track platform adoption, app usage, communications reach, event attendance, space utilization, and more—all key features that can help you more effectively run and get the most out of your commercial properties.

6. Powerful Integrations

While an all-in-one workplace experience platform like Lane is designed to support the majority of use cases at your property, it’s possible that you have existing software and tools that have become core pieces of your business. 

With this in mind, it’s important for your core property management software to be able to integrate with all of the tools you’re using across your portfolio, delivering a fluid and seamless experience to tenants and admin users alike.

8. Customer Support

From informative documentation to real human support, an ideal property management platform will have educational, technological, and strategic resources available to you, right when you need them the most. Before you make a final decision, explore the support docs and services available, and the average turnaround times for one-on-one customer support.

Alongside a robust Help Center and trained live support team, Lane offers an always-expanding collection of content and media templates to help property managers more efficiently engage tenants, create content, run events, and more.

9. Communication Tools

Timely, relevant, and regular communications keep tenants informed, engaged, and in the loop. Your software tool should allow you to save time with scheduled messages, and core info (e.g., WiFi information, retail directory, and tenant handbook) should be available to tenants with a click. Bonus points if your software choice, like Lane, offers custom targeting and segmentation so you can communicate to the right groups at the right time

10. Security and Compliance

Customer data security and privacy compliance are more important than ever. Research from Deloitte shows compliance risk is the fifth most pressing risk faced by the commercial real estate industry. Make sure your solution ticks all the right boxes.

The ideal solution should allow you to protect your tenants’ data and manage compliance-related tasks to protect your business too.

Which property management software is best?

The answer in many cases is—it depends.

The right property management software should help you streamline processes, reduce costs, save time, drive tenant attraction and retention, and generate revenue. From intuitive room bookings to automated notifications and beyond, Lane optimizes all your most important property management processes in a single, easy-to-use environment. 

Reach out to our team for a demo and learn how Lane can help you transform your tenants’ workplace experience.