Taking the Next Step with Yardi Voyager

Remember back to when you were implementing Yardi Voyager?  You may have been upgrading from a previous version of Yardi, or you may have been migrating from an entirely different software package.  Either way, the implementation was undoubtedly difficult…not because of Yardi, but because the inherent difficulty in going through a software implementation, and because you had your regular job to do.

In short, you were most likely pressed for time.  You probably made a prudent implementation decision that sounded something like this:

“Let’s just get the base functionality installed, and we’ll come back and do the other stuff later”

If you did that, then you made a sensible decision.  You only have so much organizational bandwidth available to institute a major software change.  At a minimum, during the implementation you needed to be sure that the following 6 tasks could be completed in order to satisfy your tenant and ownership constituency:

  1. Issue financial statements at the end of the month
  2. Enter invoices
  3. Issue checks
  4. Bill tenants
  5. Train the user base on the relevant modules

And then, due to fatigue, you may have stopped right there…

Getting Past the Post Implementation Exhaustion Syndrome

And if you did, then you are like most everybody else.  You are suffering from Post Implementation Exhaustion Syndrome.  You know somewhere in the back of your mind that there is more that you should be doing with the software, but can’t seem to get the energy or the focus to:  One, start the implementation project back up, and Two, decide what you should be working on, or even where to start.

The problem is further magnified by the fact that Yardi continues to do a terrific job of adding functionality through product development and acquisition – which may lead you to suspect that there are aspects of the system that you could be utilizing to create efficiencies in your organization.  This means that you could be paying for functionality included in your Annual License Fee from which you are not actually getting value.  Or, said another way, you are not optimizing your Return on your Annual Investment.

If you are in this ‘place’ right now with regard to Yardi Voyager, you may also have:

A perception that you are overpaying for the software when compared to the benefits you are receiving.

A sensation of being left behind.  Particularly if you are returning from YASC or another conference where you hear how other organizations are using the software.

A belief that, even after being on the software for a period of time, you are still doing too many things manually.

A feeling of resistance when contacted by well-meaning Yardi sales professionals because you don’t know whether the additional functions and features they are pitching to you solve problems for your organization.

A fear of being on the ‘bleeding edge’ of technology – of being an early adapter.  A guinea pig.  Going where no man has gone before…

You Can Take the Next Step

If any of the above statements resonate with you, then there is a way to get ‘un-stuck’ – to take The Next Step.  Lupine Partners’ four-part Next Step program has enabled a number of Yardi clients to maximize their Return on their Annual License Fee Investment.

The program works as follows:

First, a review of your database for data incongruences is performed and the findings are documented.  This review is done offsite before meeting with anybody in your organization.   One of the many complaints heard about the software is that the reports are sometimes ‘wrong’.  This is almost always related to data issues, and not a programming issue.  Some examples of residential data incongruity are:

Past leases with no move out date
Prospect traffic with no source
Concessions granted but do not show up in recurring charges (possible fraud)
Leases with no security deposits (possible fraud)
Tenant records with no SSN

Every real estate vertical, and every client, has their own version of what is congruent and what is not with regard to their data.  After the database review, a list of all possible data issues is presented for your consideration.

Second, all relevant system users from all levels within the organization are interviewed individually and asked questions like:

  1. How do you use the system on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis?
  2. What is working for you and what is not? What slows you down?
  3. What are your frustrations with the Yardi system?
  4. Present the reports you are using – for both internal and external purposes.
  5. What functionality do you think you should be using in Yardi, but aren’t?&nbps; Why?

The interviews are easy – only lasting 30-90 minutes, and are facilitated in a safe, secure, and non- judgmental environment.  An interesting dynamic that has played out over and over again is the disclosure by interviewees of things that they will never tell you.  With the right questions and techniques, their unique truth will surface.  In order to do maximize system usage, and accordingly Return on Investment, you need their truth…

Third, the data incongruences, your disclosures, our observations, and our experience and knowledge will be combined to create a tailored Next Step plan with an emphasis on these 3 areas:

Gaps.  An analysis detailing where there is a functional ‘gap’ between your uses of the system and the available functionality will be performed.  This gap analysis will contemplate the Yardi development roadmap.

Recommendations.  The review findings will be documented and then accompanied by recommendations telling you what you should do.  The recommendations may, or may not, include the consideration of other Yardi offerings.  Our deliverable is usually in the respectful 7-15 page range – containing only hard-earned, direct advice to you.

Strategy.  A roadmap telling you how to get from ‘here to there’ will be created…similar to what was created during the initial implementation.  There are always some tasks that can be done immediately and provide quick pain relief.  Those items may appear at the top of the list followed by critical priority tasks.

Fourth, you take action based on the roadmap created for you. You take The Next Step.

Your Invisible Employee

Whether you realize it or not, Yardi Voyager is your invisible employee – readily available to work 7 days a week, 24 hours per day.  The question for you to consider is this:  Even though Voyager (your employee) is a workhorse – are you keeping it busy enough to warrant the very high annual salary you pay it every year?  Would you pay a human employee and accept only a 35% effort?  You should be squeezing every bit of productivity from your highest paid employee that you can.  It will do whatever you ask – but you do have to ask.

View Yardi Voyager as a very narrow profit center.  The revenues are not hard cash or accrual earnings – but rather benefits, both direct and indirect.  Benefit examples are:

Redirection of employee’s time and focus
Improved productivity
Better decisions
A possible decrease in FTEs
Working tactically rather mechanically Reassignment of human resources Elimination of errors
Increased employee satisfaction Decreased employee turnover Scalability for growth

Other Yardi Customers Have Done It…

In 2008, a custom Next Step review was performed for a Dallas client.  During the interview process, we determined that one of the biggest issues for the owner of the company was the threat of theft.  An immediate brainstorming session was held around the whole notion of on-site fraud and theft. From our session came 19 scenarios that he wanted to be notified of.  The scenarios weren’t necessarily fraud, but might be.  These reports run every night and ‘notify’ him when a possible fraudulent activity might be occurring.   He is still using this notification solution created using tools that were (and are) in the software.

In 2011, a long-time client requested a Next Step review of their use of the Residential functionality in the software.  Three days were spent interviewing all of the relevant professionals in the organization – including both of the owners.  The presumption going in was that Yardi Voyager was the problem…and there was some under-utilization of the software that was documented.   But the major finding was that they had a major leadership issue in both the operational and financial business units.  The important lesson here is that you never quite know what you are going to find when an independent review is performed – especially when the ‘problem’ is not pre-assumed…

What are the Possible Areas of Interest?

Question:   Can you give me some examples of areas of interest you might identify in a Next Step review?Answer:  Here is a representative list of system functionality identified for other Next Step clients:

Fraud Detection Automated Distribution of Financial Statements Notifications
Vendor Insurance Tracking Recoveries Setup & Strategy Lease Abstract
GPR Reporting Tracking Variances Portfolio Level Reporting
Custom Cash Flow Statements Reporting on Percentage Owned Attachments Strategy
Use of Memos Tracking Mortgages Management Fees
Account Trees Exception Reporting Strategy Delinquency Notes
Property Attributes Market Surveys Report Inventories
Using Current Report Versions Import/Export Strategies Security
Analytics Task Runner Attributes
Report Scheduler MCA Performance Tables
Intercompany Custom Tables Allocations

Your company has unique needs, and you have a unique position, but there are always ways to extract more profitability from Yardi Voyager.  Let’s work together to make that happen.

Dedicated to your success,

David Wolfe
President – Lupine Partners