Technology has been transforming our society and an incredibly rapid pace. A smartphone has comparable computing power than all of the NASA computers that sent a man to the moon. And smart phones are now used by over 200 million people. Despite this rapid adoption in nearly every aspect of our life, for some reason community Associations struggle with technology. Oddly, you just don’t see much technology in Condo Associations.
Today we are joined by Andrea Drennen of TOPS Software. Andrea Drennen, CMCA, is a CAM industry veteran with more than 15 years of experience that she brings to her role as TOPS Software’s Marketing Director. She shares her passion for CAM Management through the TOPS CAM Blog and in speaking engagements at events across the country. TOPS Software is a multi-award winning software solution for community association management. Ms. Drennen weighs in today on the importance of using technology in Condo Associations, but also why there is so much resistance.
Why Community Associations Don’t Embrace Technology
Community Associations do not have the reputation for driving big changes. It can be a struggle to accomplish even routine actions. Add in disruptive technology? Good luck with that. “The community association industry has, historically, been years behind the curve when it comes to technology,” Ms. Drennen says. “There are a number of theories as to why – trustee boards and homeowners unwilling to pay more than they absolutely have to, low profit margins for management companies, and of course, the dreaded ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ Technology simply isn’t a driver for communities.” Without a majority of a Board striving to embrace technology, it is easy to see why the status quo might stick – which is why it can be so hard to advance technology in Condo Associations.
Technology Changes How Condo Associations Do Business
While community Associations are resistant to change, they have much to benefit from doing things differently. “This industry is ripe for disruptive technologies – tools that can change the face of community associations as we know them,” Ms. Drennen observes. “Not only can technology help streamline and increase efficiency for the back end of community management and accounting, it can also greatly improve communications, build trust through transparency, build awareness and improve the daily lives of community members.”
This opportunity is what has driven the development of new technology in Condo Associations, such as TOPS. “At TOPS, we have dedicated our efforts to building one of those disruptive technologies,” says Ms. Drennen. “TOPS [ONE] is an all-in-one community association app that brings all of the major needs for community management – CRM, accounting and management into one platform.” The ability to dramatically increase the effectiveness of Management – whether a community is self-managed or not – can be a game changer for Associations.
Creating a Culture That Embraces Technology
Your community is not going to one day just magically start using technology. A Board needs to carve out time and make technology a priority. Consider assigning a Board member or a committee to explore technology options in a specific area. Alternately you might task your Management to research in a specific area. It might be communications, green energy, or new management software. Research products that are available and see what it will cost to trial them. You can test any number of software packages – such as Slack, TOPS, or others for a very low price. Figure out what makes your community run more efficiently, and go with it.
The Board and Management must be the drivers of change. Their responsibility is to improve the operations of the community. “I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that nobody ever bought a condo based on the technology the association uses to manage their books,” notes Ms. Drennen. “But like every other industry, eventually community associations realize that improvements in technology can actually help them achieve their real goals – reduced costs with higher service levels. And that, homeowners do like.”
You are unlikely to see an angry mob of Owners demanding that the building start using a particular software platform. But your Association does need to look to technology as an opportunity to grow. Bring your Condo into the 21st century and start leading a better Condo life.