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The role of technology in managing community schemes

We live in the age of instant communication. These days, people seem less willing than before to spend time talking on the telephone or attending a meeting in person. Aside from the effect of COVID-19, the exponential growth of technology in the communication sphere has certainly added to the reluctance of people to connect in person.

Community scheme management has certainly evolved over the last two years and has not escaped the demand for technology-driven management platforms. In this blog post, we consider some of the technology available to trustees and, more so, to managing agents that can be used to enhance communications.

Management database systems

As the managing agent is ultimately the custodian of the information for the schemes they manage, software like Pastel (for accounting) is no longer suitable. Managing agents must ensure that they keep record of all the information pertaining to the schemes they manage – this includes all accounting records.

For this purpose, a variety of management systems have been developed which can integrate databases as well as accounting packages – such as WeconnectU, BCMTrac, MRI, PIMS, etc. Additional features such as workflow software enable property managers and administrators to manage and monitor their daily tasks more efficiently.

Third-party applications

The change in legislation in 2016 brought about new challenges for property managers as there are now additional compliance requirements that must be adhered to. Some of these requirements include preparing a 10-year maintenance plan and how votes at general meetings are calculated. In both these fields there are companies that provide specific applications that help property managers meet these requirements, such as Mirfin Valuations and MeetingPal.

In the case of 10-year maintenance plans, where the financial planning of capital expenditure is paramount, online dashboards can be used to update expected expenses and calculate monthly maintenance contributions. This type of application eliminates the need for complicated Excel spreadsheets.

Members are required to vote on agenda items at all general meetings. Gone are the days where votes were calculated by counting a show of hands on each decision. Complications such as proxies and multiple ownership in schemes are now managed by using specifically designed software applications to calculate results automatically. These applications can also provide post-meeting reports that can be used to clarify votes and write minutes.

Social media and communications tools

Most of the communication between trustees, owners and managing agents are done via email. With applications such as WhatsApp becoming commonplace, an instant and more user-friendly communication style has developed. Role players in sectional title schemes can now instantly report problems and provide evidence of items requiring attention or maintenance by way of pictures.

Both WhatsApp and Facebook have a major role to play in offering useful platforms of communication for larger communities and neighbourhoods.

Summary

Communication is continuously evolving, and with the help of third-party applications and communication-friendly management systems, the work of trustees and managing agents are made easier in one way (better communications) but also harder in another way (more platforms to manage).

For managing agencies in particular, it is important to remain relevant and abreast of technological development that can assist with the management of community schemes.