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Automating Your Processes Won’t Save Your Business (unless you do this first)

If you asked me what the most overused (and least understood) phrase was in property management in 2023 I would say it’s “Process Automation”. Everywhere you turn there’s some analytical type telling us that unless we automate our processes we will be left behind, penniless and out of business.

I’ve been in a room with dozens of property managers and inevitably someone is told “You need to automate your processes” and frankly for most property management companies that’s simply not true. Not yet, anyway. You see, if you automate your processes and you have crappy processes you are just going to have crappy processes automatically and if you speed up a bad process you are still just as bad but now you are bad faster.

When I hear someone telling a property manager that they need to automate their processes they’re not wrong, they are just not telling the whole story. It’s like someone trying to understand Return of the Jedi without the context of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. You think you know what’s going on but since you didn’t start at the beginning you don’t have the whole picture.

Side Rant Warning: I don’t want to hear anyone tell me that A New Hope is not the beginning of the Star Wars Saga and that the beginning is actually the prequals released years later and really started with The Phantom Menace. I waited 16 years after the release of Return of the Jedi for a New Star Wars movie and I do not accept the prequals.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled program.

Where were we? Oh yes, I remember. Because property managers have heard “you need to automate your processes” more times than I can count in 2023 I have clients that come to me with a monthly invoice for an automation software that they aren’t utilizing to it’s fullest and a few built out processes that they either don’t use or don’t like because they don’t work the way they want. We are able to get them moving in the right direction by changing what they are focused on.

You see, It’s not the software companies fault and it’s not the client’s fault so what’s the issue?

Process automation software is like a box of legos lego, you can build just about anything but without a clear vision and clear instructions on what you ultimately want to create automating individual processes is like stacking bricks without a plan because you like the colors.

Not so much a rant but: How old were you when you learned that the toy you grew up playing with was called lego and not legos? Me? I just learned that recently.

ok, last one I promise I think.

Getting it right from the beginning – do this first

So if process automation is the buzz phrase of 2023 and process automation software like LeadSimple is so wildly popular (and helping property mangement companies become wildly successful) how are people actually seeing success? They automate their processes that’s how.

Wait… I’m getting to it: here we go.

Automating your processes is actually step 4 in the framework, so it’s still important but it’s not where you start. You have to start at step 1.

Steps 1 through 3 are as follows:

1. Purpose

In order to see success the leadership team needs to understand the overall purpose. We need to make sure that the leadership team defines and understands why what we are doing is important and what the goals and expectations are. The purpose is the Why we are taking action – defined as clearly as possible.

2. People

We need to take into consideration the stakeholders that affect or are affected by our purpose and our actions. The people are the Who we do it for/with/to. Look for touch points and trigger points with those internal and external to the company.

3. Policy

Policy is the rules by which we run the company. Policy is the What we do. The leader of the company should set the policy throughout the company with the assistance of the leadership team.

and finally…

4. Process

All processes should be guided by the companies defined and documented policies. Processes are put in place to uphold the company policies. Processes for the sake of processes is anti-productive. A process should only be created if it can point back to a policy as the reason for the creation or execution of the process. The processes are the What we do. Once the leadership team and the front line team members are clear on the policy they can begin to document their the way they currently do things or the way things need to be done to uphold the policies. Once the processes are documented on paper then, and only then, should they be built out into a process software.

How can I help?

If you are interested in process automation and you want to ensure your success, reach out to me and I will assist you in steps 1 through 3 and help you find the right partner to assist you in step 4.

I will be speaking on this topic at LeadSimple University in December and I will be speaking and coaching on the lifecycle of property management at the Property Management Systems Conference in January. I hope to see you all there!

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