Talking to Shani Nowlin for 10 minutes, you can see she is a natural problem solver, which comes in handy as the CTO of Westland Real Estate Group, a 200+ team member property management company out of Long Beach, California. With more than 65 multi-family communities and over 12,000 residential units, there is no shortage of work for the team. In Shani's role, she is in charge of all things tech.
“We have two general sides of technology in our business,” says Shani. “One is offering support to our employees, from ensuring people have computers to work on to ensure those computers work and have internet infrastructure. The other side is about developing internal tools for our employees didn't make them more efficient. I run both of those teams.”
Before she discovered Glide at the pandemic's start, she created and managed all of these internal tools in Google Sheets and through Google Apps Scripts. The process was not only highly tedious and time-consuming to build anything new, but it also meant Shani was constantly putting out fires when inevitably a script stopped working or someone deleted something in a spreadsheet.
“It was a massive amount of time to manage all that,” says Shani. “There was a ton of frustration because one user would click the one cell I thought I had locked but didn't, and then the whole thing would break. Tracing back the lines to the right place was incredibly time-consuming.”
It only took a few minutes of using Glide to realize that she was never willing to go back to her old process of hacking together processes in Google Sheets with Apps Scripts.
Managing delinquent payment processes in Glide
The first app Shani built and deployed was designed to make it easier for property managers to manage delinquent payments at the pandemic's beginning. This had never been much of an issue until the lockdowns happened, and many people were out of work and unable to pay rent. Subsequently, managers spent much more time managing non-payers and keeping track of payment plans.
“The idea with this app was to gain greater data visibility without putting more burden on our field workers, and I think we've accomplished that,” says Shani. Before building and using this app, the team never had this level of data transparency across their properties.
20+ private Glide apps later
Shani has built around 20 private Glide Apps, which handle everything from managing properties to inspections and budgeting. The newest app she built was an asset management app for her IT team after their old solution was acquired, and they were struggling to find a suitable alternative.
"I built it for them because the asset management system we are using got bought out by another company, and they were sunsetting it,” says Shani. “We were starting to research another asset management solution, and I was so unhappy with everything. So I was like, ‘You know what? I can build this in Glide.’ I just sat down for a couple of hours, knocked it out, and now we have an asset management system that is completely built for and controlled by us."
Building their own asset management with Glide gave Shani and her team much more flexibility to create a bespoke solution. “We can basically add and remove any features that we want because we control the backend," she says. For instance, they use this new app to manage not only all of their assets but also all their vendors and contracts. Since they have more than 200 contracts across all their properties, that wouldn't have been possible without a custom solution.
For Shani, Glide makes it easier for her to delegate tasks to her team, empower her dev, and support teams with the tools they need to be efficient and effective. "When an executive comes to me with a business problem, which happens every day, I try to think of the best solution, knowing that it's either going to have to go to the support team, the dev team, or to Glide."
These days, she can better protect her dev team's time so that they can focus on more significant projects. "I have Glide to fall back on. Having that extra tool has been super helpful."
Another thing that Shani loves about working in Glide is that she can train a non-technical team member from another department on how to use it. "I worked with her on the projects relevant to her department. I really liked her, so I convinced her to join my team," says Shani. "So she came to my team four months ago, and I immediately started training her on Glide. Now, when we need apps duplicated or fine-tuned, she can create it herself at this point."
Despite having nearly 20 Glide apps, Shani and her team constantly field requests from the group about other things, they wish they could automate. For instance, she just started working on a maintenance app for the purchasing team.
"The purchasing team saw what I did with the IT asset management, and they started drooling. They want one too, so I will be working on that soon," says Shani.
This means the purchasing team will soon be able to set up automation triggers and workflows instead of managing all maintenance and work order requests through spreadsheets. Anytime an executive brings a problem to her, she is more confident knowing that she has Glide as another arsenal in her toolbox to solve it.