Automation and Integration Can Pay Dividends for Utility Billing
by Joel R. Nelson, Yardi Systems
AS reCentlY AS 10 YeArS AGO, hArD- economic environment, multifamily property managers
wIreD BUIlDInGS AnD DOS-DePenDent want to maximize efficiency and minimize technology
COMPUterS rePreSenteD StAte-Of- vendors, software and IT costs. Many are considering the
the-Art UtIlItY BIllInG teChnOlOGY benefits that might be gained from full-business solutions
fOr MUltIfAMIlY PrOPertIeS. Data collection that consolidate multiple business functions into a core
was slow, the wiring was vulnerable to inadvertent slicing, property management and accounting platform with little
and proprietary utility-billing software made it difficult or no interfacing.
for clients to change their billing service provider. In recent years, the multifamily industry’s march toward
Over the subsequent decade, utility usage data gather- complete, single-platform integration has encompassed
ing and transmission became faster and more reliable, as processes such as rent payments and check processing,
hard-wiring gave way to wireless technology. Wireless invoice processing, supply and services procurement.
technology enabled utility-billing service providers to Now, utility billing is being integrated, as property man-
provide much more reliable service, and the elimination agers facing increasing cash flow and bottom-line pres-
of proprietary software made it easier for multifam- sures seek new ways to maximize recovery of their utility
ily companies to switch utility billing providers. But the costs.
technology evolution wasn’t complete. Billing service
companies still had to create utility tracking files and CentrAlIzInG YOUr SYSteM
send them to their clients, who filled in A number of multifamily managers are adopting inte-
the resident information and returned grated utility management solutions that automate the
them. This involved time-consuming utility billing process. Automated utility billing processes
manual processing of invoices, cost encompass all elements of utility billing management—
allocation calculations, and resident invoice processi