Budgeting season is imminent as we approach the end of the year. The management team and board members are immersed in activities such as financial and operational performance comparisons, past budget evaluations, contingency planning, and reserve funding. Not to forget, approval from board members and the resident majority is equally important.
The center of any budgeting plan should be to discover cost-effective ways to operate the association, plan for emergencies or unexpected events, increase resident/owner satisfaction, and enhance community appeal to prospective residents. Take a pause before you begin budgeting. Here are some tips on how you can utilize Pilera’s community management software to assist in this process. These tips will help you to gather data, communicate with your community during and post budgeting, and manage the wealth of knowledge throughout the association or organization.
Gain high-level insight into your community’s operations
Before creating a budget for the upcoming year, take a step back and review all of the association’s operational data. Pilera’s activity logs can help you identify key pieces of information:
- Distribution of resident questions, requests, or complaints – When an internal staff enters an activity log, you can get detailed insight on any issues that arose this year. An activity log is a record in Pilera that tracks resident interactions or requests that can be assigned and followed-up on. For each community, you can filter by category, date ranges, and assignment which will display all related records. The status will give you insight on how many activity logs were resolved or are open. The association can compile a list of issues that require action, the costs involved, and who is responsible for each. Most importantly, for budget reviews, customized reports can be exported into Excel for further analysis.
- Who hasn’t yet paid assessment fees – Since associations receive money in the form of resident assessment fees, it’s crucial to include the possibility of nonpayment or delinquency in the budget’s contingency plan. With Pilera’s rule violations and activity logs, management can determine how many residents have not paid last year’s assessment fees. The amount of money that might go uncollected the next year can also be estimated. Additionally, we provide at-attorney lockdowns with most of our accounting partners.
Evaluate vendor performance and resident maintenance requests
Regular maintenance is a pertinent activity of associations and it’s essential to understand performance and costs related to each service request activity. Granular and high-level insight is required to determine where costs may be saved.
- Analysis of of Maintenance Requests & Work Order Lifecycle – Through Pilera’s work order module, management and board members can analyze how many work orders come through for a specific maintenance category (such as irrigation or engineering), the costs for each, job status, and the time it takes for each job to be fulfilled. High costs on electrical fixes may inform that a discussion with the vendor is necessary to find any cost-saving opportunities.
- Comparison of Vendor Performance and Costs – It’s also important to evaluate all your vendor information to help you make maintenance/operational decisions for the association. Through our new vendor management app, you can rate each vendor’s performance, add notes, track insurance expiration dates, and select your preferred vendors. Vendor performance information in conjunction with service cost data for the past year will help you project next year’s costs.
Communication to board members and residents
Keeping your community in the loop throughout the budgeting process and critical decisions is of utmost importance to stay compliant with association bylaws and state laws. Pilera affords a variety of ways to communicate with residents and board members. You can invite residents to budget ratification and other budget-related meetings through email, phone, and text messages. You can ensure that no resident misses out on communications. They can decide their preferred method of communication and the language they want to receive the text and emails in. Residents self-manage their contact information, while on the front-end, management staff and board members can simply send the messages.
Get instant approval on issues via electronic voting
After preparing the budget draft, it’s time to get homeowner’s approval. Following your state’s laws and community bylaws, you can create an electronic form to capture homeowner’s votes in real-time. Add fields to capture information such as resident name and contact information (which is already pre-populated in Pilera when they fill out the form), other custom form elements (such as text, drop-downs, number fields, and more), receive comprehensive results in real-time, and limit one response per unit. If an owner owns multiple homes, they get one vote per home unless the community and state bylaws mandate otherwise.
Manage your community’s budgeting expertise
Managing knowledge has become increasingly important for associations for many reasons, no matter what the topic involves. Each year while you’re creating a new budget, you’ll learn something new that will be valuable for the next year’s budget. Securing that newly-gained knowledge is important as your budget process evolves. Also, how do you retain knowledge in the event a person leaves the company? Or, if a board member steps down or moves away from the community? Pilera has a knowledge base to help retain all the knowledge as your team builds their experience.
How does it work?
- Add as many questions and answers as you need.
- Categorize them with keywords such as “finance”, “budget”, “reserves”, “assessments”, etc.
- Set access permissions for residents or internal use only.
- Search by keyword to bring up the questions and answers at any time.
Keeping an organized document repository is another important aspect of knowledge management, which our software can assist with. You can upload important financial or budgeting documents, categorize them, and set access permissions for residents or for internal use. Whenever a document is uploaded, the recipient is automatically notified by email and you can view who opened the email/document.
Budgeting is a crucial, yet challenging task for any association. Therefore, it’s important to be able separate the key pieces of information from the ocean of data that surrounds you. Each year, the budget may be different based on your community’s requirements and how much it has evolved since the previous year. With Pilera’s community management suite, we can help you decipher operational changes by providing high-level insight into your community’s activities; easily send messages, invites, and documents to homeowners; and keep track of new information in the knowledge base. Contact us to learn more about our community management suite.