Getting online and real-time with portfolio management
Automation Is King
Whether you are managing 10 locations or 2,000 locations, automated portfolio management software is a necessary and viable tool. There are a number of reputable software programs that provide automation technologies and consulting services for corporate commercial and retail portfolio administration.
Since the early 1990s, many of the nation’s largest corporations have benefited from information management solutions that have fundamentally reduced the costs associated with managing complex portfolios of leased and owned properties. Most software on the market focuses on a brand referred to as strategic lease information management, one of the most powerful and flexible software packages for commercial property management.
Plug-In Exterior Services Management (ESM™)
Now that we have identified the software for automating portfolio management, let’s discuss how ESMsm can be migrated into the equation. Much like the Internet, there are continuous upgrades, patches and plug-ins to existing technological platforms. For example, there are constant updates that we need to download in order for new functions to work.
The ESM market space is still in its infancy stage, but the architecture is not. Property managers have been using contractors for snow removal, irrigation, green care, parking lot maintenance and various other ESM services for years, and over the past 10 years the method of reporting and planning has become automated and easier, thanks to software tools and the Internet.
Since ESM is a new brand and market space, there are only a few real ESM contenders offering customized software systems that are architecturally independent enough to migrate information from existing management software systems that currently manage the larger retail and commercial corporations in the United States. The management systems we discussed before are great tools for reporting and planning on an operational level, but they need more detail for specific vertical markets, like ESM.
One of the reasons why ESM companies are able to deal at the national level is due to custom software applications and the ability to adapt to real-time needs. Other technologies include digital cameras, wireless laptops, and broadband upgrades. With these tools in hand, the ESM company can connect national facility management teams to remote sites across the country.
For example, when a storm occurs in Oklahoma City, a vice president of facilities in Atlanta can see, on the Internet, the damage done and make time-sensitive decisions to get a store back in operation. The data available is upgraded daily and sometimes hourly to allow instant access to current levels of cost per service, ground activities schedules, as well as keeping better control of work orders in progress.
New Industry Software
Among the few national ESM companies in the United States, there is currently one brand of custom ESM software referred to as theAutoDatasm System. AutoData is a database-driven, Web-enabled program utilized by ESM corporate offices to store and document all client information. Authorized users may access this network only by secure usernames and passwords.
This custom software package allows customers to monitor their exterior services maintenance from any computer with an Internet connection. The system logs and creates a history of each individual property, storing information for up to 1 year with backup archives later stored on CD-ROMs. Companies lose time and money when they have only manual access to critical data about their leased and owned holdings, especially when they are taxed with the responsibility for ESM services and independent contractors. AutoData automation catalogues your properties and contractors in an ultra-efficient, user-friendly database. Once the database has been compiled, searching, reporting and analytical functions offer you a wide range of value-adding management solutions that no other brand can offer. Time savings and lowered administration costs are featured benefits. Much of the need to travel to inspect properties is also eliminated.
The ESM industry has introduced property management and retail operations to regional quality assurance managers (QAMs) and customer service coordinators (CSCs) that serve as the technological backbone of the ESM industry. These QAMs are regionally based throughout the country and utilize various new forms of technology.
The portfolio management software discussed earlier may organize and streamline day-to-day administration of the commercial projects, but gizmos like the Fuji 3500, a Rough Usage Field Computer, can give them the edge for quick and accurate ESM results.
Various brands of digital cameras are also used for real time before and after pictures on ESM Web sites. QAMs perform onsite monthly inspections at each property. Digital photographs and site inspection data is gathered and uploaded into the AutoData System nightly. Also, routine maintenance visits and work order information is routinely entered into the system. Broadband advancements like cable and DSL have also made automation easier by allowing more complex software to function over the Internet.
What Does The AutoData System Do?
- The AutoData System stores names, addresses and phone numbers of site managers, as well as property address and assigned GeoLoc (geographic location) numbers
- The database lists services included in specifications, frequencies and special notations for site work
- Measurements of square footage for parking, lawn, planting beds and sidewalks are listed, along with linear footage of fences and other pertinent site data.
- A listing of actual site activity, including date started and date completed
- A listing of potential problems, which have been reported by the site manager or the QAM responsible for the location.
- Findings of the QAM while on their routine site evaluations.
Status of work orders currently in the system regarding the property.
The most important part of the ESM concept and AutoData System reflects back to single invoicing and contractor management. Portfolio management software will organize, optimize and report, but there will still be multiple invoices for multiple locations along with management issues of independent contractors. If you prefer single invoicing and detailed quality assurance for all your ESM needs, you might want to consider an ESM company for your real-time needs.