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Computers: a comparison of property management accouting software.

Part II

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 f rom 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 1,000 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 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.

Although many of the headings in Part II of the matrix are the same as those used in Part I, the requirements for a bullet are much more stringent in Part II. In addition, some extra bullet items have been added to Part II.

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 III.

Except for excluding a handful of programs that are only 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.

Notes to Software Summary and Matrix

Modules: Some programs are all-in-one, while others are modular with different configuration of basic-and auxiliary-function modules.

Price range: Some of the all-in-one programs have one price. Others have a range that accommodates limited-capacity entry-level versions and/or more costly network versions.

Some modular systems also have limited-capacity entry-level versions and network versions. For modular systems, the low end of the range is the price for entry-level "property management" modules, while the high end is the price for one fully configured system.

A "plus" reflects pricing that increases with the number of users and/or numbers of site installation.

Order of programs: The programs in the matrix are ordered by the price for a very specific configuration of programs variations: entry-level, single-user, unlimited (regular) capacity, and with property management, accounts payable, and general ledger functions.

For all-in-one programs, the price used is for the unlimited capacity, single-user version. For modular systems and for systems with interfaces to third-party programs, the relevant configured price includes modules/programs required to configure PM, AP, and GL functions.

Adjacency comparisons: The column order in the matrix does not reflect items in any module or third-party programs, with the exception of AP and GL. In comparing programs, you must look to see if some capability - for example, report writing - depends on an add-on module or a third-party interface. If it does, the column order of the programs does not reflect the relative pricing for that add-on.

HUDManager (A&M Software): This programs interface with other accounting programs - A+ Omega, Maxwell, Skyline, Timberline Gold, and Yardi Deluxe. Bullets assigned are based on A+ Omega (from Ausmus) and may vary when integrated with other programs.

Michael J. Hanrahan is president of Real Estate Software Advisors and Real Estate Software Test Lab in San Francisco. He was been a software reviewer and consultant for JPM since 1987 and has independently evaluated more than 100 property management software programs.
COPYRIGHT 1992 National Association of Realtors
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes directory of publishers of property management accounting software
Author:Hanrahan, Michael J.
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Article Type:Directory
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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