Family Mosaic is tackling the complex area of accurately allocating service charges using Bluebox property management software from Trace Solutions. Bluebox will automate the majority of the service charge processes, replacing the hundreds of individual spreadsheets that Family Mosaic was using before.
Pam Moran, head of customer accounts, Family Mosaic, said, “Our systems were originally designed to accommodate a reasonably straightforward rent management process. Our business model has changed and we are now managing a complex mixture of rented and owned, or part owned, accommodations, sometimes all within the same property. The need to allocate and charge costs on an individual basis makes the process much more difficult, yet still commonplace.
“The only way we could get anywhere near a suitable solution was to prepare Excel spreadsheets for each property but this becomes a recipe for disaster in instances where you have 100 tenants in a building! It’s labour intensive, time consuming and inefficient, and can’t be audited easily.”
The Bluebox system is now installed, with Trace Solution in the process of importing the data and setting up the accounting parameters, charts of accounts and other user-definable coding structures. The system is scheduled to be fully operational by April 2013 so that Family Mosaic can produce next year’s budgets and the associated reports for its residents.
Saul Stevens, IT director, Family Mosaic, said, “Rent and service charge management is a complicated and important part of our business. We reviewed our systems and realised that the lack of automation in the management of service charges was not only leading to inaccuracies but fundamentally preventing us from growing.”
Graham Davies, business development director, Trace Solutions, said, “BlueBox is based on management by exception (MBE), an approach that is relatively new to the property sector. MBE focuses on automation. Quite simply, the system deals with routine items automatically and identifies the exceptions that need attention and presents this information to the user.
“This allows the user to automate a huge proportion of the detailed running of a property business. It also helps identify the problem debtors who cause nearly all the trouble.”
Moran said, “By improving our service to leaseholders we also reduce the grounds on which they may decide not to pay. Automation takes the day-to-day problems out of our hands and lets the system run itself. We can then focus on just the problem areas that need specific attention.”