There are a variety of construction loan management and loan servicing software solutions available to a construction lender.
Many lenders currently use Microsoft’s Excel. It is easily customized, can be edited to suit the needs of a team, and it is relatively easy to learn and maintain. And yet, Excel for all its strengths is not a complete solution. Excel can be easily edited to produce errors through dropped cells, hidden data or incomplete formulas which results in incorrect information. It is not very secure, and is difficult to convince bank examiners it is reliable or robust enough to manage a growing portfolio.
So, how do you find the solution for your needs? Shouldn’t you just Google for the product you need read some text, review some screen shots and maybe watch a short video? Sure, that will get you in the ballpark, but the real decisions come from a good demo of the product, and here are 5 reasons you should insist on a demo.
1) Does the software do what you do today: Nobody likes change, even when it is needed. You may have a very complex method or or a simple one, but whatever you have it is what you know. A new software solution should be able to at least approximate your methods and procedures as a starting point. The person giving you the demo should start the demo asking about what you do today. He or she should become very familiar with your current procedures and be able to demonstrate them to you by showing how their software can duplicate what you are currently doing. The goal may be to improve or maintain your current methods and procedures, but starting where you are today gives your team the confidence to make the leap into the change that is coming.
2) The software should be easy to understand: A good demo will give you and your team a firm understanding of just how easy or complex a software solution is. Are the screens laid out in a way you can quickly navigate them? Is the toolbar full of buttons that need a manual to understand? Are the spreadsheets and the grids laid out where you and your borrowers, builders and inspectors can understand them without explanation? We are in the era of smartphones, very few of us read the manual that comes with the phone, we just start exploring. Can you feel confident that after a brief explanation of the software (40 min) you can “explore” and learn the rest of it on your own?
3) Is the person giving the demo an expert on the software only? The person or persons giving you a demo should know the product they are demonstrating like the back of their hand. They should also be very familiar with every facet of construction lending industry - common disbursement practices, inspection and draw methods for every type of construction project as well as how Core Providers interface with their clients. Every solution has a weakness or may not exactly meet your needs. Ask the hard questions and make the presenter demonstrate the answer to YOUR satisfaction. Is the solution able to pass your rigorous IT and Security benchmarks? Do they have customers that you can talk to that lend in the same manner you do? Can they duplicate your individual needs? If the answer to even some of the basic questions is "It is still in development” or We can customize that for you”, then this may not be the solution for you today. Would you hire the person giving you the demo? This may seem an odd question and yet if you pick their solution, they will be working with you for the foreseeable future. If the person is proficient in what you do, they will be able to assist you on how you do it so much better.
4) Reports- Can they be customized?: Reports are crucial and one of the biggest reasons for a Construction Software solution. What type of reports do they have. Do they have reports that can replace the ones you use today? Can they be customized to duplicate exactly what you are using today? It may take some time, but ask the person giving you a demo to show you a sample of reports that you would expect to use regularly. Are you impressed? Is it easy to generate reports, do they have an extensive library of reports for you to explore?
5) Does the pricing make sense: After you experience the demo, does the pricing make sense to you? There is really no way to understand the value of a construction loan monitoring and tracking service unless you demo the product. Only then can you answer the important questions: Is the product a value? Does the pricing reward the vendor only if the Lender is successful? Is the pricing simple and easy to understand.
In summary, Look for the complete package that can mimic what you do today and provide you a secure environment to grow, with simple pricing that continuously creates an incentive for the vendor to partner in your success.
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