April 5th, 2019
Thirty years ago, if an HOA board wanted to self-manage, they did it with paper and pencils. Board members kept in touch over the phone and communicated with homeowners via printed memos. A tech-savvy board member might’ve kept a spreadsheet of dues or other data on a desktop computer (with a green screen). But that was as far as the technology went.
Times have changed. Our world is now heavily driven by technology, which is always evolving. There are more and more tech tools that help us handle every aspect of our lives: banking, shopping, scheduling, diet…even self-managing an HOA.
HOA management software isn’t a brand-new concept—these tools have been emerging for several years. But there are two recent technology trends that impact the way that HOA boards self-manage, and which tools they choose for the job.
In the olden days of DIY HOA management, boards chose a specific location to conduct HOA business. Maybe it was at Linda’s house, because she had the desktop computer that held the HOA spreadsheet. Or it was at George’s place, because he had the file cabinets and the Xerox machine for copying notices for homeowners.
The emergence of mobile devices—laptops, tablets, smartphones—has completely changed the way people get things done. Location doesn’t matter as much as it once did since mobile devices allow people to complete tasks and stay in touch from wherever they are. For HOA board members, who likely have to squeeze board duties in and around full-time jobs and family responsibilities, mobility matters. It makes life easier to use software that enables them to handle HOA tasks from work, home or a coffee shop.
2. The Cloud
When the first self-managed HOA software emerged, it was all desktop-based. You’d load the software program onto your computer, and save the files you created to your hard drive or local server. But what if multiple board members wanted to access and edit the same file? That was a problem. If Linda’s computer had the software and master file, you’d have to go over to her house to use it. Even if you had a computer with the same software, Linda would still have to save the file to a floppy disk or CD for you to use at home. This system wasn’t ideal—it was easy to end up with multiple, conflicting versions of the same file.
Instead of relying on local computers and servers to store data and software, the new trend is to use “the cloud.” Cloud computing refers to any data storage, software or other services hosted over the Internet. You can log in from any device that has Internet access. Cloud-based technologies you might already use include Gmail, YouTube, and Dropbox.
The cloud isn’t new. It’s been around for years. But what IS new is the increasing reliance on Internet-based software and data storage. When it comes to self-managing an HOA, the shift to the cloud has big benefits:
- It’s easier to stay in sync. When all the board members are viewing and editing the same files online, you can streamline and synchronize your efforts. No more duplicate files. No more going to Linda’s house for the latest file on floppy disk. Using a cloud service, you can centralize all of your communications. Fewer emails and tasks fall through the cracks.
- It’s affordable. Instead of paying a large up-front fee for a single software license, cloud-based tools are often subscription based. You pay a smaller monthly fee for access (often for your entire team).
The cloud also has potential drawbacks. If you use cloud-based technology to manage your HOA, you’re storing sensitive HOA and homeowner data on the Internet, where it’s vulnerable to security attacks. To keep it safe, it’s important to use tools that have advanced security features. Choose technology that’s password protected and uses data encryption.
JSP Toolbox is a mobile, secure, cloud-based system
JSP Toolbox is a cloud-based HOA management system. It bundles all the HOA self-management tools you need—Basecamp, QuickBooks and Gmail—into one centralized online location. These 3 cloud-based programs are well established and incredibly secure—they’re backed by a high level of data encryption. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of a mobile, cloud-based system while having the peace of mind that your sensitive data is safe online.
We designed JSP Toolbox to make life easier for HOAs that want to self manage. Give it a try—it’s free for the first 30 days.
Posted In: Technology