PM experts explain the systems and procedures they use to stop business coming to a “screeching halt” when heavily relied-upon software fails.
Besser & Co head of property management Marcel Dybner told RPM that recently 1Form.com.au was down for most of the day, which meant they couldn’t check any applications.
“A few months earlier, our inspection app wasn’t working for a day, so we couldn’t do any ingoing, outgoing or routine inspections,” Mr Dybner said.
“It doesn’t happen often but when it does we really see just how much we rely on technology. It also shows us just how helpful technology is and how much easier it makes our lives – when it’s working.”
Real Plus business manager Hermione Gardiner said it can definitely create chaos when core technology plays up or goes completely offline.
“Much more these days we are at the mercy of technology to run our days and lives and unfortunately sometimes they will fail,” Ms Gardiner told RPM.
“Contingency plans are important - I used to export a backup key list, landlord contact list, tenant contact list, and contractor list saved to a secure file on the desktop once per week, to ensure that most business can still go on in case your system goes down.
“I had a recurring calendar reminder to remind me to do this,” she added.
Covering appropriate dialogue
Ms Gardiner said it is also important to educate your team on how to communicate the technology failure to your clients.
“If the system that goes down affects clients - such as applications, or inspections - then it’s important for the manager to cover off the appropriate dialogue that the team should be using to deal with potentially upset clients to avoid conflict,” she said.
“Often it’s about how the issue is dealt with, not the actual issue itself, people understand that things go wrong if they are communicated with effectively.
“Staff tend to go into a panic but the trick is to remain calm, and instead of looking at what we ‘can’t’ do, is look at what we ‘can’ do,” she added.
Daily external back-up procedure
M Residential head of property management/director Laura Levisohn told RPM their agency has ensured they have some protection with the overlapping of software.
“As an example when 1Form recently had technical issues, we were unable to preview applications we had received, however as we utilise InspectRealEstate, the tenants information was stored in this software,” she said.
“If our entire computer system was to crash, we have a daily external backup procedure in place, together with a manual print of our transactions for each day, so the worst case scenario is that you would lose a day of your diary entries, but all trust accounting and work orders will be able to be retrieved immediately.”
Understanding the importance of having a “Plan B”
Mr Dybner said the key is to always have a ‘Plan B’.
“For example, we do all of our inspections using an inspection app,” he said.
“We were caught out a few months ago when the app stopped working because we’d run out of the written condition reports and had an urgent one that needed to be done that day.
“Luckily we had some friends at a neighbouring office who helped us out, but we learnt that we should always be prepared for something like this.”