Online Scheme Management
Managing sectional title schemes online is becoming more and more of a reality. It’s happening here through services like The Massive and it’s happening overseas through services like OurBodyCorp and others.
What can online management tools do?
- They allow scheme documents such as rules, sectional plans, minutes of meetings, financial statements etc. to be saved and shared online.
- They offer digitized community discussion forums where the different role players can communicate with each other.
- Notices of meetings, including attachments and other announcements can be easily sent out to owners and bondholders via email.
- They allow access to an online calendar where important scheme meetings and other events are scheduled – sending reminders when necessary.
- ‘Tasks’ can be created to track ‘action items’ that arise from meetings and round robin resolutions, for example if a trustee is tasked with obtaining three quotes for repainting the building he can log his progress in requesting quotes from contractors, uploading quotes once received and so on so that owners know the status of a project at any given time.
- Online surveys (polls) can be completed to see whether there will be sufficient support for upcoming resolutions and in some jurisdictions voting can even take place online.
- Owners can update their contact details online.
- The scheme’s accounts can be managed online with all income and expenses being recorded and the scheme’s cashbook automatically being updated. Owners can also access their ledger accounts to see if they are up-to-date with levies or in arrears.
But what about taking the online interaction one step further?
- Scheme’s could list restaurants that deliver to the area on their online platforms.
- There could be a list of recommended tradesmen that owners could rate.
- The scheme could make money by selling advertising space to contractors and service providers who want to advertise to the owners.
The possibilities are big!
When I look at this I see the future of scheme management but why is it taking off so slowly in South Africa??
Here are my thoughts:
- People generally don’t like change. In a self managed scheme, the retired accountant doing the books on excel has been doing it this way for years and doesn’t want to learn a new system. For the managing agents – they have their management software and administrative processes that work well enough so why change?
- To successfully use an online management tool – ideally every owner should support the use of an online system and use it. In South Africa many people still don’t trust ‘online’ services. But this attitude is slowly shifting and we’re seeing this with the increase of online retail sales.
- It prejudices those owners who aren’t online. There are still some older people who don’t use the Internet and some who don’t even use email. Of course these numbers are getting less and less as time goes on. And, a well designed online management system could always have an option to print and send hard copies of notices etc. to those owners who aren’t online. So this shouldn’t be a complete barrier to entry.
I’m excited about the possibilities for online scheme management in the future!
What are your thoughts on this issue, do you think it’ll take off?
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