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A comparison of property management accounting software.

Part III

The ideal property management software selection system would enable you to scan a list of important items, find the combination that perfectly meets your needs, and then find the one perfect program that contains every single one of those items. And, of course, the price would fit your budget.

The real world of property management software selection is a long way from that ideal. The best you can do today is to use this matrix as a starting point.

First, realize that many of the more than 2,000 comparison items not used in this matrix may be very important to you. Second, remind yourself that most things are not simple. For the sake of clarity, the matrix uses a "yes/no" determination to indicate whether a program satisfies a requirement. The real answer is usually a matter of degree or even of judgment.

Matrix construction

The items addressed in this article are arranged in categories. The range is designed to be very broad, and all major aspects of software programs in this part are represented. Payroll and job costing/construction modules are not considered.

It also is important to remember that the absence of a "yes" bullet in any box does not necessarily indicate a lack of basic functionality in the program. Some of the line items are for specific methods rather than for the broader related functionality. The programs in this Part III are generally stronger in user-definability and in customizability and therefore are more likely to be able to perform broad functions.

Some items reflect fundamental differences in program infrastructure. In fact, the presence of a particular feature may or may not be desirable for your business. Some important structural items are not listed because of space limitations.

Other items are indicators of quality and/or program sophistication. Such items are not conclusive by themselves. They must be considered in relation to other factors. Dozens of quality-and sophistication-markers are not listed. Still other items reflect software trends. Many leading edge items are not listed.

Overall, reading this article should give you a fairly good idea of the breadth and scope of a particular program. Because only the presence of many, many detailed comparison items can properly represent the depth of a program, that aspect is less clear from this matrix.

Assigning bullets

Some items in the matrix are discrete, either/or variables. Most are continuous, having a range of possibilities. This progression creates the problem of where to draw the line; of determining which of the several varieties of proximities warrants a "yes" bullet. For example, we all think we know what a car is. Yet, it may be hard to decide if a Blazer or Range Rover is a car, as it is used by many buyers as daily transportation, or some other vehicle, because of its construction and appearance.

In making our determinations, we relied on a combination of manuals for the programs and questionnaires completed by the software publishers. In general, if a manual did not provide evidence of the item, no bullet is assigned.

We gave software publishers the opportunity to direct us to the appropriate evidence in their manuals, but we did not always agree with their opinions. In several cases, we have been more conservative than the program's publishers.

Some extra bullet items have been added to Part III.

Programs included

More than 150 currently active publishers of property management programs were invited to participate. More than 50 responded, although not all chose to participate. The programs not in this part of the article are covered in Parts I and II.

Except for excluding a handful of programs that are only remotely related to investment property management, no screening was performed. Programs included in this series of articles reflect all levels of quality. Inclusion of a program in this matrix means only that the publisher chose to participate. Absence of a program indicates that the publisher did not respond.

This article must be considered as an introduction to the programs it includes. It does not contain enough information to choose a program. Use it as a starting point, not a final arbiter.

[Michael J. Hanrahan is president of Real Estate Software Advisors and Real Estate Software Test Lab in San Francisco. He has been a real estate software reviewer and consultant for JPM since 1987 and has independently evaluated more than 100 property management software programs.]

[Mr. Hanrahan has been in the real estate business for more than 25 years. He holds B.A. and M.B.A. degrees in real estate, urban economics, and applied economics from the University of California at Berkeley. He was previously vice-president and director of research of Questor Associates, the predecessor company to the Roulac Real Estate Consulting Group of Deloitte & Touche.]

[Mr. Hanrahan advises, writes for, and conducts workshops and seminars for real estate companies, trade associations, and publications about real estate software for property/asset management, investment, and other applications.]
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Title Annotation:Computers; part three
Author:Hanrahan, Michael J.
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Previous Article:Lease-analysis programs.
Next Article:Handling financially troubled commercial tenants.

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