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Multifamily Software Buying 101: Nailing Requirements


By Team Revyse

Published 7 months ago

Updated 4 months ago

As a multifamily professional, selecting the right technology vendors and implementing new software is a critical task with long-lasting consequences. The right choices can truly revolutionize your operations and boost efficiency.

A well-thought-out and clearly written business case can make all the difference in ensuring your software project's success. And the cornerstone of any business case is understanding and defining the requirements, which are the foundation for your project. For a deep dive into how to master the art of the business case, take a look at this article. Now, let’s explore the importance of requirements when building a business case, and how they can help you make informed decisions when selecting a technology vendor.

The Importance of Requirements

When you’re shopping for a new technology or service vendor, requirements are like the compass guiding your project, keeping everyone on the same page and moving in the right direction. They're essential for making sure the end result checks all the boxes, achieves your goals, and keeps your residents and onsite teams smiling. When you spell out your requirements loud and clear ahead of time, you're setting the stage for great communication with potential vendors and making smart choices every step of the way.

Understanding Different Types of Requirements

1. Functional requirements

In the multifamily industry, functional requirements are the must-haves for any software project. For example, your property management software should enable you to manage leases, track maintenance requests, and generate financial reports, or your digital advertising provider should be bidding on keywords based on your portfolio’s actual unit availability. When drafting functional requirements for your business case, clearly outline the essential tasks the software tool must handle, like streamlining rent collection, automating tenant screenings, or showing real-time pricing. These functional requirements should be specific to your company’s needs and challenges.

2. Non-functional requirements

Another group of requirements to consider in your business case are non-functional requirements. These focus on the characteristics or attributes of the software that impact its performance, usability, reliability, or security. Examples include response time, scalability, accessibility, and maintainability. For instance, your multifamily software should be able to handle peak traffic times without crashing, be user-friendly for property managers and residents, and securely store sensitive data. This is where your company may decide that deep linking to a resident app for a seamless user experience is critical, or meeting specific WCAG accessibility levels for a website may be non-negotiables. Keeping these attributes in mind ensures you choose a vendor that can meet any internal IT or risk review requirements.

3. User requirements

When shopping for new technology tools, it’s also important to consider the expectations and needs of the people who will interact with the software, such as property managers, leasing consultants, and residents. By documenting their preferences, you can ensure the software is user-friendly, leading to higher adoption rates and greater satisfaction. For example, an intuitive interface for managing maintenance requests or a convenient resident portal for rent payments and communication can take your project to the next level.

4. Business requirements

Business requirements will highlight the overarching goals and objectives the software should achieve in line with your company’s vision. For example, a goal might be to reduce property management operating costs, streamline communication between staff and residents, or increase renewal rates. Identifying these requirements helps align the software with your company’s long-term objectives and addresses specific industry challenges.

5. Technical requirements

And finally, there are technical requirements - these are the nitty-gritty details, such as hardware or software compatibility, data storage capacity, or integration with existing systems. By understanding these requirements, you ensure the software fits seamlessly into your organization's tech environment.

Some examples of technical requirements that are specific to the multifamily industry include:

  • Integration with accounting systems: Financial management is a crucial aspect of property management. Seamless integrations with these systems allows for real-time synchronization of financial data.

  • Compatibility with multiple devices: Property managers, leasing agents, and maintenance techs often use a range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Your software should be compatible with multiple operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows) and offer a responsive design that adjusts to different screen sizes, ensuring a consistent user experience.

  • Sufficient data storage: As your multifamily portfolio grows, so does the amount of data you need to store. Your software should offer scalable storage solutions to accommodate growth in properties, residents, and historical records. Cloud-based storage is a popular option, providing secure and scalable data storage without the need for in-house server maintenance.

  • Integration with communication tools: Efficient communication is vital in the multifamily industry. Your software should integrate with communication platforms such as email, text messaging, resident apps, and VoIP services to streamline interactions between property management staff and residents.

  • Integration with marketing and advertising platforms: Your multifamily software should connect with core marketing tools like websites, digital advertising platforms, and marketing analytics tools like GA4, to provide seamless lead to lease measurement. These integrations can help automate property updates, track prospect leads, and optimize marketing strategies.

  • Security and compliance: Data security is of utmost importance in the multifamily industry, given the sensitive information involved. Your software should adhere to industry-standard security protocols and comply with relevant regulations such as the CPRA and the Fair Housing Act.

  • Customizable reporting: Each multifamily portfolio has its unique reporting needs. Your software should offer customizable reporting options that allow you to generate reports based on specific clients, data points, timeframes, and other criteria that are most relevant to your company’s goals and decision-making processes.

How to Leverage Requirements to Make Better Buying Decisions

Now that you have a solid understanding of the different types of requirements, you can confidently dive into defining yours, building your business case, and finding the perfect vendor to help you solve your next big challenge. While not every business case will require a thorough write up of all 5 types of requirements, it is important to explore every potential opportunity to make your new software purchase successful.

1. Get Your Requirements Down on Paper

First things first, jot down your requirements. Roll up your sleeves and create a thorough list covering the functional, non-functional, user, business, and technical aspects that apply to your project and need. Remember, details matter here.

2. Prioritize Your Requirements

Next up, it’s time to play favorites. Not all requirements carry equal weight. Pinpoint the most critical ones and rank them based on their significance to your company and your project objectives. If there are some requirements that are non-negotiable, put those at the top. If there are others where you can be flexible, move them toward the bottom of your list.

3. Kick Off Your Vendor Search Process

Now it’s time to do some homework. Leverage search engines, vendor reviews, software comparison sites, and industry-specific websites to find vendors who are pros in the multifamily industry. Look for published pricing, product reviews, case studies, and customer testimonials to gather insights on the experiences of others and reach out to peers, colleagues, or industry experts for their suggestions on the best tools or technologies to address your specific problem. Compare your top requirements with what each vendor offers to narrow down your options.

4. Dive into Product Demos

When you’re ready to compare your shortlisted solutions, product demos will give you first-hand experience of how the solution works and help you determine if it meets your needs. More and more vendors are embracing transparency and offering self-service product demos, which allow you to tour the product on-demand, at any time that is convenient for you. If your shortlisted vendors don't have a self-serve product demo available, reach out and ask them to pitch their software to you on a video call.

5. Make An Informed Buying Decision

Now, it's decision time. Put on your analyst hat and weigh each proposal and demo against your prioritized requirements. Think about factors like cost, the time it'll take to get the ball rolling, ongoing support, and any customizations or integration requirements you might have.

And finally, take a deep breath and make your choice. Trust your research, your peers, and your instincts to select the perfect multifamily software vendor for your next project.

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Team Revyse