Corporate real estate service providers face an ongoing challenge to ensure they manage clients’ property portfolios effectively.
As well as running the day-to-day operations and ensuring essential pieces of equipment remain safe and functional, providers need to remain up to speed on the more strategic elements. Knowing when leases or contracts expire can help shape key decisions around the disposal or use of buildings, while responsibilities around rent or rate payments, insurance premiums and facilities management contractors must all be met.
The ability to easily identify and receive alerts for important dates is vital, as is being able to demonstrate the total cost of a portfolio, including any anticipated future expenses.
Effective management reporting will also mean data can be compared against key performance indicators, helping to ensure costs do not spiral out of control and allowing clients to hone in on areas that are of particular interest to them.
Keeping on top of all this across multiple buildings and clients mean an effective technology solution is essential. This is even more relevant than ever, with the disruptive landscape driving companies to evolve; it seems clear tech is now becoming a differentiator in the CRE industry, with large service providers rapidly acquiring software solutions and partnering with tech providers and consultants. So what can service providers do to strengthen their offerings?
The use of big data and the Internet of Things means there is now more information available than ever before, with smart devices able to monitor usage of particular areas of buildings. That insight can then be fed back to those who are tasked with making decisions around both the use of space and the design of buildings. This can be compared with historic usage, helping to identify areas of a building which are overcrowded or potential rooms or floors where there is unused capacity, as well as giving an indication of likely future usage.
When combined with other tools such as CAD packages, such technology can help service providers and their clients ensure more efficient use of space and view information around tenants and any vacancies. Some packages can even work with geographic information systems to help identify potential sites for future expansion, highlighting issues such as planning requirements, population density and the presence of other businesses operating in the area.
This kind of insight means service providers can not only provide clients with an accurate assessment of their current portfolio and any areas of waste or opportunities for efficiencies, but can also present potential solutions.
The challenge for service providers is to find such capability from a software package. For larger providers with considerable in-house IT departments and big budgets, it may be possible to develop their own system, configured to their needs, as long as they have the capabilities to update this over time as new requirements and functionality emerges. Most service providers, however, will not have this luxury, and will look to external providers to take care of all this for them.
There are a number of other elements to think about when picking a software provider, as well as making sure it has requisite functionality. Being able to integrate with other software is vital. As well as working with the above systems, being able to extract reports to Excel, Word or PDF formats means clients can easily evaluate information and spot trends. The ability to customise reports to specific requirements is also something to consider, allowing users to hone in on individual, sector or country details.
Knowledge is power
There are obvious benefits to both service providers and clients of having such capabilities. For clients, having easy – and sharable – access to such information will help them make the right decisions when it comes to space usage in a building and identify any potential opportunities that may exist to rationalize a portfolio or to add to their property footprint, perhaps with new offices, shops or distribution units.
Knowing such information is available and being monitored carefully by a specialist provider will give in-house property professionals or heads of facilities/estate planning the confidence to focus on their own role, and can also help elevate their own position and that of the function internally.
For service providers, being able to offer this kind of intelligence can help to retain existing clients and win new ones, by offering something that competitors may be unable to. Being able to explain the business benefits of such a package is vital, and service providers that do this will be able to demonstrate how they can help clients with strategic insight into their entire property portfolio as well as managing the daily operational activities. In such a fast-moving and competitive landscape, such technology credentials are essential.