Who are Visionbase Software and what do you do?
Visionbase Software are property management software developers based in Sheffield. We have been providing solutions since the early ’90s. Decorus for Sage is our flagship product, developed for a wide range of portfolios and is used by landlords, letting agents and property managers across sectors such as residential, commercial and, of course, student housing.
You have been supplying property management software for over 20 years; what have been the changes you have faced?
Technology! Over the years we have seen Sage 50 improve from being a very accountant-orientated product to one that is user friendly and very forgiving. Every year Sage releases a major update and we have had to keep up by improving our software not only to be compatible with Sage but also property legislation and the gradual increase in the popularity of the cloud.
We have recently introduced a cloud hosting service for our Decorus software that will allow access from anywhere with an internet connection and will soon be releasing MyOnlineProperties, a customer portal that will allow landlords, tenants, contractors and users access to data such as statements, repairs, documents, etc. We feel we are doing more than just keeping up with the Joneses!
What involvement have you had in the student sector?
Our very first customer back in 1992 was, in fact, a landlord with a portfolio of student HMO properties so we have got long-term experience in this market.
We have been able to develop the software with features specific to the sector. This includes creating tenancies based on term times and academic years, rather than standard rents, room inspection alerts and portal feeds to StuRents.
We work closely with our customers, taking on board requests that they may have to improve their experience using the system. Our customers range from landlords with HMO properties to those with large blocks. There are thousands of student-occupied rooms in the UK managed by Decorus.
What makes Visionbase Software stand out from your competitors and what are the main issues your clients face and how can you help?
Decorus is the only property management software to integrate seamlessly with Sage 50, the UK’s leading accounting package.
Other solutions offer an accounting engine within their system but they are often basic and users still need to prepare financial data for their accountant which can take a lot of time, resources and money.
The seamless integration does this for our customers, helping to dramatically reduce data entry. The benefits don’t stop there: Sage offers insights into the financial aspects of their business including real-time cash flow and profit and loss reports, something that other solutions won’t provide.
This is why the majority of our clients come to us; however, it isn’t the only reason. Decorus is a modular-based package, giving users options to pick and choose what features are right for them, whether that is for reducing tenant arrears, maintaining properties or they are looking to automate their processes.
One of the major pains that our customers come to us with is time.
Trying to manage properties and a business isn’t easy. With Decorus streamlining a lot of the administrative workload our customers find themselves with more time to deal with tenants, deliver a more personalised service which, in the long run, makes their work a lot easier.
Where do you see property management software going in the future?
There has been a huge shift in software over the last few years. Browser-based solutions have been developed faster.
The ageing industry is growing up fast and it is those who offer products adaptable to the user’s requirements who succeed.
Our scalable package is well suited for small portfolios to large and complex set-ups. The software has the best of both worlds as it comes with desktop features and the benefits of being hosted in the cloud.