Four Questions Property Managers Should Ask About Systems Integration

Commercial Real Estate
four questions for property managers
The benefits of integrating a building’s systems are hard to dispute.

Integrating the tools of a property manager can save time and prevent security loopholes (i.e., when a resident moves out, but their credentials fail to be terminated, since doing so requires an easily-forgotten extra step).

Unfortunately, some vendors will promise residential property managers a level of integration they’re unable to fulfill. That can cost a building owner money and a property manager time, as the expected advantages of integration become hurdles.

Those barriers can be especially problematic if they impact a resident’s day to day life. Anything that deviates from a resident’s primary expectations is a broken user experience – and it’s something that could result in negative reviews or, at the very least, a dissatisfied customer.

To guard against this, property managers should pin down the specific performance requirements expected from any system integration for their building. Here are a few good questions to get things started.

1. Who do you call when things go wrong?

Things break, especially when it comes to technology. It’s not necessarily someone’s fault, but that often doesn’t matter to an inconvenienced customer. There’s no moment of delight when things are working as expected, but when they break down, the level of disappointment is significant.

Property managers are often tasked with tracking down who’s responsibility it is to fix those problems – and all too often it can turn into a finger-pointing exercise, with one vendor blaming another, ultimately extending the problems’ lifespan.

Kastle takes a comprehensive ownership position. As a managed service provider, our team handles everything from installation and monitoring to customer service and repairs. Accountability, regardless of the issue, is on our shoulders.

The way we see it: Property managers didn’t sign up to be tech support, so it’s unfair to put that burden on them when, say, a door access system isn’t working properly. The goal is to offer the latest technology, but take away the headaches.

2. What’s the provider’s product vision?

The pace at which property technology changes today is breathtaking. Property managers know that the systems they buy today are significantly different than what will be available in three years.

Obviously, doing a complete infrastructure switch-out that frequently is impractical on a number of levels, so PMs need to know their investments won’t be obsolete in just a few years.

Find out if there are future iterations of the technology that can be added on to what you’re buying – and if so, who will do that? Beware of those who say the tech is “open to integrations,” but don’t have those resources in-house. That could be a red flag that they’re not equipped to do those integrations, which creates another possible finger-pointing excuse.

3. Does the integration require middleware?

Making sense of the inundation of ever-evolving technology solutions can be a notable challenge for residential property managers. New technology is great, but it also creates more points of potential failure – and getting those systems to operate harmoniously while also synchronizing with legacy technology can be difficult. That makes it critical to find out if system integration is truly seamless or if it requires a third-party or middleware system to make the connection. And it’s just as important to know how often it runs.

Kastle overcomes this challenge with open, non-proprietary, technology that we configure to integrate across disparate technologies, as each situation may require, because we have a managed service approach for every client. We design configurations to directly integrate regardless of who made the technology. That does away with lag, giving property managers peace of mind that their systems communicate in real time, preventing security gaps.

4. What are the limitations?

Kastle develops in-house software and does its own hardware manufacturing. This lets us move quickly, since we generally don’t have to wait for a third party to prioritize the same idea and line up the resources. We’ve got a long history (almost 50 years) of installing these systems and know how to accommodate for virtually all sorts of cases.

No one likes to be bound to one provider, though. While Kastle builds its own systems, we don’t insist clients only use our technology. If the customer wants to integrate a third-party hardware or software system with ours, we can do it. That lets property managers have the best of both worlds. And our comprehensive ownership philosophy means that if something goes wrong, we’ll dispatch someone immediately to resolve it.

Integrating the wide range of property technology systems that are used on a day-to-day basis is an effective way to help property managers effectively and efficiently do their job – and keep residents happy. To do that, they need to partner with a company that covers all of the potential headaches and takes full responsibility for the system. It’s critical to ask pertinent questions and do the proper homework. That’s the best way to know that if something does go wrong, it will be handled quickly and won’t prevent the PM from focusing on their primary responsibilities.

For more on how Kastle uses our open technology to easily integrate directly with partner property technology, click here.