November 29, 2015

2012 Financial Tools: Shopping Tips


2012 Financial Tools: Shopping Tips

Before you buy or sign up for any financial management tool, be sure to thoroughly weigh options and needs.

Start Where You Are: Unless you’re new to real estate, you’ve probably got some accounting system in place already. Compile lists of what’s good about how you currently manage your finances and where you’re missing the mark. An individual might want a surer way to track day-to-day expenses, whereas a manager may rather automate routine functions. Determine where an upgrade can streamline operations, improve organization, and provide better insights, and use that as your guide. For mobile financial management, check whether your bank offers a branded app; many now do. It may be all you need on your tablet or smartphone.

Think Integration: Real estate pros with an existing financial management system want assurance that they can import that data into new software or services. You’ll eventually want to export your numbers in a standard format as well — export capability is especially critical with expense-tracking apps.

Try Before You Buy: All financial management solutions allow you to pretest the software or service on a limited basis. Take this opportunity to explore all features before you entrust it with your numbers. Additionally, most apps offer a free “lite” version of the full-featured program. If it works for you, pay to upgrade.

Evaluation Points: The user interface should be both simple and intuitive, easily mastered without learning complex new procedures. Ideally, you’ll only need to enter client, vendor, or listing info once for it to be available throughout the program. There should be no limits on financial records, clients, employees, transactions, and other key information the system handles. You also want the option to customize reports so your data is organized and flexible. Today, there should be some mobile component to the system, either an app or cloud service, so you can access your financial data and tools whenever you need them.