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Why Property Managers Need Managed IT

How a partnership with an MSP can benefit property management companies.

Property management companies provide services for short-term vacation properties, long-term commercial and residential spaces, and everything in between. From managing payments to ensuring properties are well-maintained between guests, your responsibilities as a property manager can seem never-ending. This high degree of responsibility is directly correlated to the number of properties you manage. As your portfolio expands, so does your to-do list for assisting current and future owners, renters, and vendors.

Whether you realize it or not, you depend on technology to fulfill your property manager obligations, regardless of your role. Each position in your company's hierarchy, from leasing agents to asset management directors, must leverage different programs and devices to facilitate efficient collaboration and data tracking. With so many tasks in the balance, even the slightest interruption in IT support for property management companies can cause significant downtime, leading to unproductive team members, dissatisfied tenants, and confused vendors.

Keeping your IT infrastructure running requires precision, which is hard to achieve without a dedicated team of IT professionals. Just as your clients choose to entrust their properties to your company's management skills, your company can and should choose to entrust your IT needs to an experienced managed service provider (MSP). Here are four IT-related obstacles property management companies face and how an MSP can help you overcome them.

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1. Efficiency

As it applies to other industries, every second must be spent efficiently for property management companies to succeed. However, attaining that efficiency level is easier said than done when team members contend with IT issues. In cases where a company depends on a few jack-of-all-trades IT specialists, work stoppages and network issues can quickly compound and create severe inefficiencies. Sam Blowes, Director of Solution Consulting at Bit-Wizards, emphasizes that these limitations often stem from inefficient communication.

"For companies with offices spread across the state or even the country, it's extremely challenging for IT personnel to have a unified overview of their operations with managing and leasing properties," he says. "Even in smaller companies with gaps in information between on-site and in-office tasks, management and IT team members alike can be susceptible to a situation where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing."

These hazards only grow as property managers work alongside real estate professionals, maintenance teams, and other vendors. While the nature of residential and commercial rental operations varies, they are similar in that each deals with various partnerships that contribute to their collective success. Brian Schlechter, Director of IT at Bit-Wizards, feels these layers of relationships often come with the side effects of additional IT issues and inefficiencies.

"Between your renters, leasing agents, property owners, brokerages, and other parties, so many people and companies are involved in each property management cycle," he says. "With the involvement needed for each partnership, managing IT for each employee's depth of responsibility can be problematic for your IT department to achieve."

How an MSP boosts property management efficiency

When your operations rely on high-performing IT, an MSP can be the difference between stalled and smooth processes. In partnering with an MSP, you entrust your IT to a team of experts who know how to keep your business on track and help your employees excel. Your MSP has the distance from your company's operations to have a complete view of all functions and cater your IT goals to your responsibilities. Blowes believes that property managers and their MSPs share a mutualistic partnership.

"While our functions are considerably different, MSPs and property management companies deal with similar challenges and learn from each other," he says. "With Bit-Wizards, we've learned and implemented effective business practices from working so closely with our property management clients and observing how they serve their customers, and our technological efficiencies and tips are then shared and translated back to their industry."

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2. Scalability

When a company expands in any capacity, it can face several hurdles that impact its ability to function in an informed, strategic manner while still facilitating scalability. These difficulties are heightened as property management companies acquire smaller companies and merge their operations under a single brand. IT employees are often left trying to tie loose ends to unify the two organizations. In dealing with these challenges, Schlechter shares that everyday tasks frequently fall by the wayside.

"Besides the legal and HR paperwork, merging two companies brings a massive workload for IT personnel," he says. "If you have a lone IT person, they'll be focused on merge-related tasks and inevitably neglect day-to-day issues."

While the customer-facing perception of the transition can seem straightforward, the experience often differs for the acquired company's employees. In cases where IT human and physical resources are not readily available, new employees frequently struggle to work with personal devices or whatever outdated hardware and software is available. While these shortcuts seem harmless, Blowes articulates that they can negatively affect critical operations.

"In essentially duct-taping parts of each company together, these small decisions that were once insignificant can make a considerable negative impact," he says. "It's like the inverse square law: these issues are perceptively inconsequential when considered individually, but they create a more intense IT fallout as they all converge."

How an MSP facilitates scalability for property managers

By partnering with an MSP, property management companies can rest easy knowing that expansions will go smoothly for clients and employees. Your MSP offers a team of IT professionals who aim to streamline your business operations, meaning they have the resources and abilities to do everything your team needs at once. Additionally, MSPs are skilled at assessing business acquisitions and outlining the most efficient way to combine two companies under one identity and IT network. Outside of times of growth, Blowes adds that an MSP is an excellent resource for companies that deal with slower periods.

"Your MSP can help your company size and function fluctuate to match the demand of whatever you're doing," he says. "Whether you need to double your resources for summer vacation or pull back for the off-season, having an MSP gives you the flexibility needed for expansion, consolidation, and anything in between."

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3. Cybersecurity

The allure of investment opportunities for property owners and managers is hard to miss. Unfortunately, the earnings are just as attractive to bad actors due to the potential payoff and abundant opportunities. Property managers have different exposure angles for cyberattacks because of the numerous entities involved in each transaction. Schlechter explains how a cyberattack can target three distinct parties.

"For every dealing, a property manager has financial information for the tenants who pay rent, the management clients they pay a percentage to, and their own account details for transferring funds to either party," he says. "Property management companies are a hacker's ideal target because they hold so much sensitive information."

On top of this weakness, property managers must contend with common cyberattack trends and security pitfalls that capitalize on employee error. Management companies and other businesses often face significant threats due to poor password practices. Stemming from a lack of proper data storage with user permissions, teams frequently share passwords for shared inboxes, file drives, and more. Blowes considers this approach a dirty secret that many businesses conceal.

"If your company uses a handful of different passwords for everything, you have an immediate security concern if a person who knows them leaves the company," he says. "Changing those passwords to keep your information secure is daunting, especially since you don't always know where to start or what's needed to overhaul every account."

How an MSP enhances cybersecurity in property management

Because of their expertise in top-notch equipment, best practices, and more, working with an MSP is an excellent way to fortify your company's cybersecurity measures. Your MSP's team can assess your security posture, provide employee training, and implement protective measures like password management to enhance your defense measures. Through these efforts and additional methods, you can better protect your employees' and clients' operational, financial, and personal information. In addition to alert monitoring and advanced email security, Blowes says a select few MSPs can also do proactive work that can stop cyberattack attempts in their tracks.

"As part of our multilayered security approach, Bit-Wizards is unique in that we offer support to our clients by directly encouraging them to forward suspicious emails to our ticketing system," he explains. "Even if their doubts are wrong, they still have peace of mind because we investigate anything and ensure they're safe."

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4. Resiliency

Whether your business goes through major changes or skates through everyday processes, resiliency must be a foundational element of your operations. In the event of a short-term interruption or long-term outage due to a natural disaster or hurricane, your business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan will either make or break your ability to continue doing business-as-usual. For property managers who depend on minimal in-house IT, resiliency can be difficult to maintain, even if it's an average workday. Schlechter mentions that their specialties offer benefits and drawbacks equal to a less-than-ideal situation.

"If you have an IT person who specializes in networking, you may have a great network while they're in office," he says. "Other aspects may not be done as well, and your worst IT days will probably happen when they're on vacation and other employees don't know how to resolve an issue."

Outside of a team member taking time off, property management companies often struggle with day-to-day resiliency due to having multiple locations. If one or two IT employees are based in one office and have to travel to other locations, their capabilities are limited to wherever they're working. With resources spread thinly, property managers often play a game of whack-a-mole in sending their IT team to whichever location has the most severe issues.

How an MSP fosters resiliency for property managers

Partnering with an MSP is the surefire way for property management companies to ensure resiliency in all operations regardless of the circumstances. A substantial part of your MSP's efforts is connecting your business to the cloud, a cost-effective and critical element for everyday collaboration and disaster preparedness. Blowes emphasizes the benefit of migrating your entire company's files and functions to the cloud and having an MSP manage your IT.

"Your MSP will manage all things IT for you through the cloud and remote help desk services, so they can track your entire environment wherever they're located," he says. "Your company can operate smoothly at all on-site and in-office locations without the limitations of IT personnel tied to physical locations."

An additional benefit of managed IT is that most MSPs offer after-hours assistance, a much-needed service for property managers who service their clients around the clock. Your team needs to be prepared for late-night maintenance requests, and IT issues can leave your repair crew unaware and your tenants frustrated. With an MSP, Blowes says your company can rely on IT help outside of regular business hours without having to depend on in-house employees.

"Many MSPs have on-call teams on standby for nights and weekends since IT and maintenance problems rarely have good timing," he shares. "Instead of waking up a tech-savvy friend or your receptionist at 2 a.m. to deal with these issues, your MSP is there to help when you need them most."

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The Bit-Wizards advantage for property managers

Property owners must be selective in choosing the right managers, and the same goes for selecting a provider that can offer effective IT support for property management companies. If you want your company's data and network taken care of by an MSP you can trust, Managed IT Services (MITS) from Bit-Wizards is your go-to choice. Our team has extensive experience providing cutting-edge managed IT to property management clients and other businesses within the real estate industry. We go the extra mile to be the magic our clients need, and Blowes believes the origins of MITS to be one of our greatest strengths.

"We were one of the first managed IT providers to be born and raised in the cloud, so we have resiliency and efficiency ingrained in every aspect of our services," he says. "By working with us to move your IT to the cloud and partner with a team of hands-on experts who care about your success, your employees have the tools they need to deliver top-notch assistance to their clients."

Ready to entrust your company's IT to Bit-Wizards? Contact us today.

Author

Natalie Ewing, Content Writer
Natalie C. Ewing

Content Writer