If accessing your software remotely is on your shopping list, there are several third-party solutions, including GoToMyPC and LogMeIn. These proven solutions make remote access easy and affordable. There are also several Web-based management software programs designed for the self-storage owner. Both methods allow you to access your system, draw desired information, review reports and make changes. Two details to keep in mind:
- The expense. A third-party solution will be a minimal expense, if any, compared to a Web-based product, which can involve a healthy, reoccurring monthly fee.
- The database. Who has possession and access to your tenant database and who is responsible for data backups?
What technical support options are available with the software? While discussing features and pricing, remember to ask the provider about support. How much comes with the original purchase? What are the hours of operation, and in what time zone is the support staff? Software vendors are spread across the United States, so if there is a problem with your system, how long will you have to wait until help is available?
Also, be cautious about a provider’s promise of “24-hour support.” You may find someone on the other end of the line any hour of the night, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he will have the tools or expertise to solve your problem. Another important question is if there is a charge for technical support. If so, will you need a credit card when you call or will you be billed after the call is completed?
Reputable software providers offer training for their products. In many cases, the programs are easy to learn, and with the help of a good manual and a few short calls to the provider’s help line, you and your manager will quickly be on the way.
However, allow yourself and your staff time to practice with the product. I have seen a few well-meaning individuals purchase products during the last week of the month with the intent to be up and running by the first. Unfamiliarity with the new product, potential mistakes and added stress of being rushed will quickly create negative feelings toward the new software. Allowing a few weeks for training and practice can make all the difference in the world.