One of my favorite TV shows is The Office. If you watch it religiously like me, you know the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch is famous for their time-wasting antics, including pointless meetings, awkward birthday or holiday celebrations, and even murder mystery games that take up the entire day. These hilarious, and sometimes cringeworthy, situations are the heart of the show and the reason why it’s so relatable. We’ve all encountered instances that seem to lack the “time is money” attitude and they can leave us feeling quite frustrated
When looking for the right lease management software vendor, an RFP is a great way to ensure that you’re using your time efficiently. In a nutshell, the RFP process helps you highlight your needs and expectations so that you can easily identify the right option for you. Thus, it’s important to ask effective questions that add the most value to your search.
As a lease management software vendor, we’ve had many RFP’s sent our way over the years. We wanted to share some insight into the questions you should be asking and the ones that don’t get asked enough.
Running into issues with technology can make you feel like throwing your computer out the window. You want to take comfort in the fact that your vendor provides responsive support and helpful resources. Typically, the questions in this section of the RFP include:
- Do you provide an online support portal for 24/7 help?
- Are additional training materials and guides available online?
- Can I access user support through the application?
- Do you use an online ticketing system to track response levels?
The above questions do a great job of confirming availability and outlining processes, but they should go deeper. You should consider adding questions that focus on the quality of support and the value the vendor places on customer relationships.
- Do the client services and technology teams operate in the same facility? How much interaction do the two have and how familiar is the client services team with the technology?
- Do you utilize call centers or automated answering systems?
- Would I have access to a dedicated account manager?
Powerful and timely reporting is one of the biggest assets of lease management software. It’s the feature that holds the biggest value for most organizations. Typically, the RFP questions include:
- Describe the software’s reporting capabilities.
- What types of reports can the software generate?
- Does the software display dashboard analytics?
These questions and their answers mean nothing without specifics to support them. Make it a point to provide the potential vendor with a list of the actual reports and analytics that you need on a daily basis. Sure, the software can report, but if it can’t produce the reports you need then you may require customizations.
The digital world has provided us with a variety of options for just about any software. With so much competition, of course you’ll wonder about a vendor’s competitors. One of the most common questions organizations use to evaluate a vendor is:
- What differentiates you from your competition?
Because you’re looking for lease management software, a question that might add more value to your search is determining how much, if any, real estate experience your vendor has. Consider adding:
- What is your background in commercial real estate?
- What inspired you to develop the software?
Lease Abstracting Process
There’s one question that we get asked ALL THE TIME and it’s turned into a bit of a running joke around the office – “How does the data get into the system?” Granted, it’s a fair question. With so much technology available these days, you never really know what the standard is. While the concept of AI abstracting has been thrown around the past few years, we can confidently say that we still have a while to go before that becomes a reality. And even then, there will be questions about accuracy and the missing human element. But that discussion is for another time….
The data gets into the system either by import from another source, or good old-fashioned abstracting. The lease abstracting process is by far THE most important to focus on during your RFP process. Afterall, if your data isn’t accurate in the software, then nothing else matters. For these questions, I’m actually going to tell you to throw out the standard questions completely. Replace them with the following:
- What does the abstracting process look like?
- What does my involvement look like?
- Who is doing the abstracting and where is it done (in house, third party, etc.)?
- Will I get timely updates about the progress?
- Are there different levels of abstracts to choose from?
When it comes to your data, privacy is always front of mind. You want to ensure your data is secure and that you have total control over it. The standard questions to ask include:
- Who has access to my data?
- Are you allowed to make changes to my data?
What about privacy and confidentiality as the client? It may be important for your organization to add questions such as:
- Will you use me in your advertising?
- Do you share your list of clients with third parties or potential customers?
While these questions don’t have a lot to do with software or lease management, they help shine a light on the values and goals of the vendor.
These questions are the basis for the entire proposal. You need to know your options and the pricing that comes along with them. You might ask the following during the RFP process:
- How do you license the product?
- What is your subscription model?
Additionally, you should focus on the flexibility of the contract and the ownership of the data. These types of questions peel back the layers and show you the character of the vendor you’ll potentially work with. For example:
- If we decide to leave and work with another provider, will you work with them and take the necessary steps to transfer our data?
When considering investing in any software product, it’s easy to get caught up in each and every feature and function of the platform. Yes, the features are important, and you should take the time to understand them, but they’re only part of the entire package. Your RFP questions should help you analyze the character of the vendor, the value they place on the customer, the experience they have, and the guidance they can provide.
If you’re in the process of finding the best lease management software vendor, consider adding Quarem to your list. Our powerful lease management software is designed to strategically organize all of the data, critical dates, activities and documents associated with commercial real estate leases.
We aren’t your typical software company – we’re best known for our accessible service. Our technology, management, client services and abstracting are all housed under one roof at our headquarters in Houston, TX. So, when you call, you’ll connect directly to an account manager who knows the entire story of your portfolio.