Closing the Gap Between Accounting and Community Managers

Posted by Andrea Drennen, CMCA on September 15, 2016
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Sometimes it feels like you're both on either side of a canyon.

The chasm yawns wide between you.

You try to communicate but between the echo and the whistling of the wind, you cannot truly understand each other.

Of course, you both want the same thing. But it's hard to meet in the middle when the very nature of your jobs pit you against each other.

When the accounting team and the community managers in your organization are at odds, it's hard to run a successful management company.

The Accounting Perspective

The accounting team feels a strong responsibility to the association clients to maintain proper financials for each community. Accountants need order, structure, and processes. Their schedule is very strict, and they are constantly under a time constraint to get the financials out right and on time. It can be frustrating when a manager throws the accounting team a curve ball like a hold on processing payments for a unit, or a last minute invoice. 

The Management Perspective

Community managers are under the gun from every board member and homeowner in the communities they manage. That means constant pressure from many different sides and at least a dozen balls in the air at any given moment.

Even so, community managers need to feel that they have control over every part of the association's management, and that includes the accounting side. It can be frustrating to the manager when the accounting team doesn't keep them in the loop with anything that may affect the associations they are responsible for.

Stepping on Each Others Toes

As long as the dividing line is clear, these two teams can usually stay functional. However, the lines in association management are often blurred.

In one management company I visited, the accounting department had ruled that any and all costs were to go through the accounting department only. This meant that the community managers were unable to enter even simple data like work order costs into their management software. The sad part is that their stubborn refusal to allow the management team to do any cost entry actually wound up costing the accounting team a great deal of extra manual labor.

Community managers aren't blameless either. In another management company, the community managers had completely taken control over aged owner balances and made the process so convoluted that the accounting team had to hire an extra employee to manage it. First, they would have to print an Aged Owner report, then use a physical stamp to mark accounts that were 90+days late, then they would give the stamped report to the property manager, then the manager would write on the paper whether to send demand letters or send to attorney. Then the new bookkeeper would have to enter this all into Excel so they could track if they already sent a demand letter last month. And that had to be repeated every month! Not only was this process convoluted and long, it confused the accounting process and undermined their ability to maintain complete financial records in their management software.

Accounting and Management Alignment

We know that these two sides must work together to the common cause of providing strong community association management services to your clients, but just saying it must be so won't make it happen. Alignment begins with trust - an acknowledgement that both sides are equally important to your company's success. When accounting and community managers can move beyond their differences and work together toward a common goal, your clients will notice the difference.

 

 Image Credit: "The Rock" by Leo-setä  

*Image credit: pixabay user 422737

 

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