Use a Simple Project Management Tool.

As your REO volume grows, it helps to shop for a project management system which will help keep track of it all. A filing cabinet is one way to go. Painting your office wall with chalkboard paint, maybe. Excel spreadsheets.

Seriously, do you want to get more business? If so, you’ll have to make use of some of the great new technology available.

With the development of the REO market, a great deal of tools have been designed with project management in mind. I have worked for some agencies who had an in-house IT team who created their project system. It was not for sale — strictly used for their purposes. I have also worked for some smaller guys who subscribed to web-hosted systems that allowed them and their contractors to complete work orders through this utility.

I personally use a web-hosted tool that is not particularly created for the REO market. When I went shopping, I was looking for the following characteristics in a project management system ::

1. It had to be simple. When I sent a work order to my contractor, I didn’t want them to scratch their head and then call me to ask for an explanation. I have done this many times with some who I have worked for. Getting project paperwork from them was like walking down the greeting card aisle, blind-folded, and picking just the right card. There was just so much information to digest: fees, guidelines, heading, subheadings, checklists, etc. What I wouldn’t give for someone to send me a work order on a single page! Some of these guys, by the time I printed out ten work orders, I had to go to Walmart and buy some more printer paper!!

I wanted to use a project management system where when I sent an order it was be like an email to a coworker, sharing simply what was needed, how to do it, and when it needed to be done/turned in. I didn’t want to impress the contractor with bells and whistles. I wanted to impress my clients with speed of delivery. That could only be done by cutting down on guess-time with the contractor. The quicker they understood what needed to be done, the quicker they were out there doing it (unsupervised).

2. I wanted it to collect everything. Just about every project management system I have been asked to use by clients gave me the ability to upload documents and photos pertinent to the order so it could be fulfilled. Some were more advanced than others. The idea behind this is to reduce emails and email attachments. You could do everything by email if you want, but it’s so cumbersome. One email with photos taken at the site. Another email with completed and scanned documents. A third email with an invoice. Yet another asking me if I got everything ok. Ugggghh!!!

I went looking for a cloud-based system that easily collected all my files together and wrapped them all up like a nice pretty package. And, my photos, when uploaded (no matter how large the file was) would be accepted no problem. Then, my client when receiving these files would be wow-ed by how quickly they could view these files.

3. It had to be intuitive. As I said, I went looking for a system that was not particularly designed for REO work, but for project management in general. I wanted this tool to mold to my desires. Something where I could use some of their suggestions if I wanted or not use them if I chose against it. A system where no pattern for completing a project was set in stone. I am not a computer programmer by any stretch of the imagination, but I wanted versatility where I could explore and come up with my own system that seemed most efficient.

The best compliment I have received since going with my current system is when one of my contractors told me it was amazingly intuitive. As a contractor, this is a breath of fresh air. When you have a client breathing down your neck to use a system that seem complex and you must turn in results NOW or YESTERDAY, it blows your mind. I didn’t want to confuse my contractors and I wanted to give them the power to use my system in a way that best suited them.

4. I wanted it to be affordable. Most systems that are created specifically for REO work are 200.00 or more per month. As a brand new company, I couldn’t justify spending that much money. Especially b/c up front the work was so sporadic. I might not have enough to pay for it this month.

When I first started, I was spending only 50.00 per month to manage a large number of projects at a time. Which is pretty stinking cool. That freed me up to pay for insurance, getting incorporated and some other really cool things.

5. I wanted a system that could grow as I grow. When I started getting a ton of work, I didn’t want to worry about having to shop for a more effective system. At the most, all I would have to do is upgrade the current system I would be using to fulfill more volume. That’s just what I chose.

I went with Basecamp, a web-hosted tool that is simple genius. I’ve never had a complaint from either contractors or clients. And, it has been there as I’ve grown from nothing. I highly recommend it for your growing REO workshop.


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