PropTech (property technology) is the use of information technology (IT) to help individuals and companies research, buy, sell and manage real estate. Similar to the way FinTech focuses on the use of technology in finance, PropTech uses digital innovation to address the needs of the property industry.
Common Ground is a very tech-driven company and proud of it. Whilst owner and managing director Alan Draper doesn’t identify as a “nerd” he admits to being “in touch with his inner geek”.
“It all stems from my IT background with companies such as Sony and Sophos, prior to setting up Common Ground Estate & Property Management limited. In 2008, it appeared to me that the residential leasehold management sector had been subject to an IT bypass”.
“When I set up Common Ground Estate & Property Management, a core objective was to bring more transparency to what we do through the use of IT. Initially, I wrote a website that clients could log into and view copies of invoices, insurances, leases, budgets etc. This provided the foundations upon which Common Ground was built but new technologies were integrated to allow Common Ground to scale up. First of these was the Xero accounting package, an online package that allows clients 24/7 real time access to their financial data.”
“There is a perception that managing agents view the service charge funds as a personal slush fund and, as in all walks of life, there are some dishonest companies out there, but, most are honest, they just can’t prove it. Some agents prefer NOT to reveal too much financial data as it would open up uncomfortable questions regarding their charging regimes. These may be legal but are they just, reasonable or ethical?”
Our first port of call to demonstrate our financial integrity was to become a Xero partner.
In 2013, I realised the home built website approach was too clunky so we wrote our own property management system using Microsoft Sharepoint. This worked well for a few years but dedicated systems soon outstripped the functionality of our own in-house system so we needed to change.
Having gone through the process of writing and designing our own system, I was extremely clear about our requirements. A number of providers were approached but only Dave Piggin, Managing Director of Dwellant survived my 3 hour technical grilling. It was a no-brainer for us and meant that we could replicate our financial transparency in our day-to-day block management operations. We have been a Dwellant partner since 2018
These two systems underpin everything we do and further information about these packages can be found in a separate article here where I really do indulge my inner geek.