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A comparison of property management accounting packages: part 1.

A Comparison of Property Management Accounting Packages: Part I The reports produced by a property management software program are reflections of the capabilities and orientation of the program. A listing of the types of reports produced by different programs provides a first step in comparing the programs.

This matrix chart was compiled by reading the manuals and reviewing the sample reports provided for each software program included.

The quality of reports varies tremendously among programs. The same report in different programs may range from terrific to terrible--e.g., missing vital information or a readable format.

The content of reports also varies significantly. For example, 20 different programs have 20 different "rent roll" reports. And, there are even several variations of "lease expiration" reports.

In addition to variations in "standard" reports, which are present in virtually every program, there are also differences in the ways additional information is reported and in how "standard" information is provided in additional reports.

The software publisher works with three major elements in designing reports: size of reports, e.g., the number of columns; number of reports; and specific contents in each report. Some publishers provide simple reports--single purpose and without much detail. Others provide complex reports; either they are multipurpose reports, or they are very detailed single-purpose ones. The number of reports provided also varies greatly.

Likewise, the distribution of information among reports covers a wide range of possibilities. Some publishers incorporate special-purpose reports while others add the same data to every standard report. The seeming differences in reporting also come from the different ways in which publishers combine the same data--all three together; all three separate; and three combinations of two together with one separate.

A further element in comparing programs is redundancy. Some programs provide the same data on different reports; for example, for different purposes or for people with different job descriptions.

Another major element of reporting is how each program allows for the sorting, selecting, and grouping of data for different entities. For example, sorting may be of properties by owner or other order; units by property or othr order; payables by vendor, or date due, or other order.

A few programs provide for no options at all. A few programs provide these options by menu choices. Most programs now provide options as variations of a report. This is the preferred method as it expands the reporting power. The option method is also used to set desired time periods and other parameters for the report.

The names of reports used in the matrix are not generally the report titles used in the programs. Our titles are more descriptive of the purpose or content of the reports.

Some of the programs listed in the matrix chart are lower priced versions of regular programs. These are shown in the publisher/program list on the opposite page.

Michael J. Hanrahan is president of Real Estate Software Test Lab and Real Estate Software Advisors in San Francisco. He has been a software review consultant for the Journal for the past three years and has independently evaluated more than 50 property management software programs.

Mr. Hanrahan has been in the real estate business for more than 20 years. His academic background includes advanced studies and bachelor's and M.B.A. degrees in real estate, urban economics, applied economics, and international business. Prior to his current activities, he was director of research of Questor Associates, the predecessor company to Roulac Real Estate Consulting Group of Deloitte Haskins & Sells.

Mr. Hanrahan speaks to, writes for, and advises real estate companies, trade associations, and publications about real estate software for property management, investment, and other real estate applications. He also maintains the Real Estate Software Information Bank.
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Title Annotation:first of two parts
Author:Hanrahan, Michael J.
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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