Becoming, or remaining, self-managed is a difficult choice for any association regardless of size.
Each new board election or budget period is often the best time to ask the question, if self-managing the community will allow the community to thrive? The professional management fees may give an inexperienced board sticker shock at times, but those fees include insurance coverages and the industry experience that protects against serious risk.
KYC – Know Your Community
If your Board is ready to take the dive, then you need to start with your best foot forward.
Many Boards do not even realize the skills that exist within the community members and should inquire if anyone has valuable expertise such as a background in real estate law, accounting, or even property management.
As of this writing, I live in a community that is managed by a management company who just happens to also be a TOPS customer using our flagship system, TOPS [ONE].
The other best step to take is to earn the trust of the community to communicate via email. Even senior community members have a modern cell phone that automatically registered them with an Apple or Google account. The rest of us often prefer near-real-time communications if it is focused messaging and not a form of “spam”. Gathering reliable contact information will reap rewards down the road when technology comes into play that allows homeowners to self-serve versus calling or emailing Board members directly.
Professional Software Built for Business but with the Community at Heart
TOPS [ONE] was designed with HOA accounting at its core, so leveraging the full toolset provides the board an appropriate level of transparency, enables proper checks and balances between users, and has the owner portal and communication tools built right in.
The system is cloud based and is mobile optimized for ease of use on any device from anywhere. This type of access allows for volunteers to be given limited access to areas related to their committee and higher levels of access for contractors like your CPA. All this is accomplished without anyone leaving the comfort of their home.
The TOPS Support Team and a treasure trove of knowledgebase articles are only a click away to answer questions, follow how-to videos, or request training for a new board member. The system may look like it was designed for a Property Management business, but it is really a collection of features to simply manage interactions between board members and homeowners.
Stick to Your Strengths and Look to Professionals for Guidance
Another aspect of the secure, access from anywhere, role-based system is the ability to leverage industry professionals for the “ugly” parts of community management.
Code enforcement does not often create happy homeowners, but it creates a beautiful community with stable property evaluations. The architectural and inspection process is managed by a committee and is a natural part of the boards core responsibilities, but that does not have to be true for monthly collections or annual financial reports. Many management companies offer a range of service levels that start with managing the community books, performing audits, code enforcement, and project management.
Day-to-day operations can be managed by the board and leveraging industry professional is just good judgement. A quick google or YouTube search results in hundreds of pages of HOAs in the news for not following the letter of the law or being accused of mismanagement of funds. There is an easy and cost-effective way to avoid that kind of criticism by budgeting for the right tools, the “pros” to provide guidance, and an industry lawyer to frame your policy adherence. Self-managing a community may not be for everyone but hundreds of TOPS customers are very pleased to have professional tools at their disposal when the going-gets-tough.
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“What to Ask When Considering Community Association Management Software”
Are you in the market for CAM Software? Will you know what you want both in the software and in the company which develops it? Don’t make a decision you will regret in the future because you failed to ask the right questions in the first place!
This list doesn’t give you all the answers, but it does provide a thought provoking opportunity to insure that whatever solution you are considering, it will work well for your organization.
This is the resource you’ve been waiting for.