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Martin Hill's top five features of property software

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Industry-specific software is being used in a variety of sectors today, helping businesses increase their efficiency, productivity and accuracy. Property development and real estate investment is no different, with developers and investors increasingly taking advantage of property software to maximise their results.

How do you find the right solution from among the numerous choices available? It all comes down to being savvy in the procurement process and knowing exactly what to look for.

Estate Master Five Features

To help out, Estate Master CEO Martin Hill offered his list of the top five features to look for in any property software.

1. A proven track record

"The first thing with any software is that you don't want to be buying vapourware," Martin advises.

Vapourware refers to any software that has been hyped up and heavily marketed in the development phase, but never sees a full release. Such products are advertised as being able to perform a range of tasks when it becomes available, but they never materialise - leaving customers empty-handed.

Therefore, Martin stresses it is essential to search for a product and brand that can be backed up with years of industry expertise and recognition.

"You want to find something that has a proven track record of working in the industry - make sure you're not blown away by the hype and the talk, just look for the facts."

To gauge a software provider's track record, look for evidence of leadership in the field. For example, Estate Master has been active for nearly 25 years not only in providing software solutions, but also in the education space.

"Look for someone who is very involved in the training, education and advancement of the industry," Martin says.

2. Collaboration and cloud competency

Growing mobility needs and collaboration, both inter- and intra-business, means effective collaboration and sharing of information is essential. As such, software needs to be agnostic, with systems in place to allow for seamless interoperability and cloud compatibility.

Particularly in the property development sphere, the timely exchange of information is key. Employees must be able to share data, even if they aren't using the same software. Integration with key systems such as Excel and Word is therefore important.

You should also look for software that fully embraces sharing across either workgroups, servers while providing remote access via the internet or hosting by the cloud, allowing different operating systems to work together across multiple geographic locations and PC/Apple computers. Of course, any concurrent license system should have robust integrity to eliminate inconsistencies and offer one version of the truth, across departments and along the value chain.

3. Scalability and flexibility

Along with the system comes the need for scalability, and your solution must be flexible enough to adapt to your business's ever-changing circumstances and needs.

"You must be able to vary the software so it can be used by teams both small and large and around different geographic locations, including the small side offices across the country," says Martin.

4. Accuracy of reporting

In property valuation and development, there are few things more important than accuracy - even the smallest of numerical errors can have massive implications down the line.

That is why you must look for property software with stringent accuracy standards. It's not just about making sure the numbers add up either, as Martin points out. The reporting system must also be flawless so the correct findings are accurately communicated.

For larger organisations in particular, it's also worth investing in software that can lock down the variations, providing enforceability of the various inputs and a consistent corporate approach to analysis and reporting.

5. Help and support

Lastly, you should never opt for a software solution that leaves you on your own. The best providers are those that offer comprehensive advisory, support and training services, enabling you to get the most out of the software.

Date Published: 08 Sep 2014
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