Communications is a core function of a Condo Association. Technology has made communications even easier. Everyone is connected, and there are numerous ways a Condo Association can tap into the opportunities. Despite this advantage, often there is a struggle when it comes to using technology to improve Condo Association communications.
For our final installment of this series, we are yet again 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 provides her views on how Boards can use technology to improve Condo Association communications.
Technology Progress in Community Associations
Although community Associations have been slow to adopt new technology overall, there is both hope and cause for concerns. For example, websites are finally a “need to have” rather than “nice to have” in the community association industry. “Community websites is one of those technologies that even a few years ago was rare to find, but today, any community worth its salt is actively using,” says Ms. Drennen. “Websites are so prolific that even the law has caught up with them – the state of Florida recently passed a law that goes into effect July 2018 that requires communities to have a website with specific information for homeowners and home buyers.”
On the one hand, this is promising. On the other, websites have been around since the 1990s. The fact it has taken this long to become “standard” is somewhat concerning for Owners. Communities should seek to embrace and reap the benefits of internal and external websites. Given the capabilities out there, communities need to work to use technology to improve Condo Associations faster than decades.
Improving Tactical Communications
Making sure your Owners are aware of what’s going on is a constant struggle. No matter how many times you might email or even paper mail, sometimes Owners simply don’t know what’s going on. There are capabilities that can help improve communication either further.
“In the communications sector, push notifications (SMS) is something that’s really exciting for community associations right now,” says Ms. Drennen. “You can communicate to the whole community via text message for major announcements (like when the community is being evacuated) or directly message individual residents when there is something that needs their attention (like a package at the front desk). People today are often more open to a text message over a phone call or email. Whether announcing community events, meeting notifications, pool closings – the possibilities are endless.”
Another powerful but potentially problematic technology to improve Condo Association communications is social media. “Probably the most controversial technology for community associations today is social media,” Ms. Drennen says. “Many boards are afraid that if they provide an open forum for homeowners, they won’t say nice things and the community’s reputation will suffer. To that, I say your residents are already talking about your community on social media – the board can choose to be a part of that conversation or not, but they cannot prevent it. One technology that can ease boards’ minds is private social media networks where there is more accountability between residents.”
Social media is here to stay, so figuring out what platforms make more sense for your community and developing a strategy is prudent.
Don’t Forget the Lawyers
Old tech or new tech, one thing remains constant: check with your community Association lawyers, and make sure THEY are up to speed, as well. Many jurisdictions have laws which impact your use of technology in your Condo Association. “It’s important when considering new technologies to consult a lawyer familiar with the law of your state,” Ms. Drennen advises. “For example, going paperless makes so much sense and isn’t all that difficult to implement. And yet, the community is still required by law in many states to store paper copies of key documents going many years. Still, document management is a great addition to any technology platform. As an added bonus, you can take some room back from all of the filing cabinets taking up floor space!”
Embrace Technology to Improve Condo Association Communications
Communications is a vital part of a successful Condo Association. Technology can provide a community with powerful tools to improve outreach. As with all technology, the Board and Management must make a conscious decision to invest time and resources to looking for new solutions to lead a better and more efficient Condo life.