Dan Haefner, the chief information officer at Atlanta-based Lane Co., had a decision to make. With an ever-growing number of projects on Lane's technology to-do list, his own team was already stretched from rolling out a new Web-based property management system at the company. Then, a new request came into his office from CondoLane, the firm's condominium sales team, asking if Haefner's crew could develop much-needed reporting tools for that unit's business operations.
"We wanted to help them, but as a company, we hadn't identified that as a top priority in regard to our IT resources," Haefner says. The problem was compounded by the fact that, even if his team could develop an in-house solution, it would then be faced with maintaining and supporting it. Still,
Haefner didn't want to reject the request outright. "What we did instead was help them identify an off-the-shelf solution that met the majority of their needs and alleviated our internal workload," Haefner says. "It wasn't perfect, and we had to give up a few things to pull it off. But hopefully, our condo team is much more operationally efficient now."
Haefner and Lane's condo team aren't alone. That kind of IT triage is taking place at multifamily firms nationally when it comes to prioritizing and implementing new tech requests. The reason is as ubiquitous as technology itself: As the scope of technology and Web-based solutions has expanded to automate everything from lease-up initiatives to maintenance requests and electronic rent collection, IT staffs are feeling increasingly pinched to respond to new service requests while maintaining the systems they've already deployed. "We have a list of approximately 70 projects that we're either doing or planning to do at any given time," says Jamie Teabo, a senior vice president at Atlanta-based Post Properties, who sits on the REIT's technology steering committee. "Every time we get one completed, it seems like another one pops up to take its place."