Asset Managers: The Forgotten Software Users

Guest post from RealPage, by Guy Lyman

Over the past two to three decades we’ve seen steady improvements in commercial property management software. Today it’s very hard for most people to remember what it was like doing things manually, because software does so much for us.

Unless you’re an asset manager, that is.

The reason? The vast majority of software for commercial property management has been created for the back office: for lease administration, accounting and other clerical tasks. Asset managers, responsible for making decisions that enhance revenues and reduce expenses, are still mostly on their own in pulling together the data they need and analyzing it. They typically spend as much time assembling information as they do actually acting on it.

The role of the asset manager

Asset managers view their portfolios holistically. They’re looking at operations and accounting in the broader context of cash flow, debt, equity and other financial metrics, so their data requirements and analytical challenges are far greater than in other organizational roles.

Most asset managers today depend on property managers, the accounting department or others to feed them information. Some are still in the Stone Age, using Excel to keep track of what’s going on, creating their own spreadsheets, tracking data offline and harvesting it from hardcopy reports.

To the extent asset managers must depend on technical skill, they’re usually at a big disadvantage, as few are “techies”: they’re businesspeople.

And not only do asset managers have to wrangle data – they’re also responsible for keeping stakeholders higher up the ladder informed.

The paradox is that all the information asset managers need to do their jobs is right there in the property management system. It’s just that there’s been no way for them to extract it in the form they need on an ad hoc basis.

Beyond business intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) tools have been of some help. They typically incorporate dashboards that display Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). But they’re limited to the KPIs the software vendor builds in, so when asset managers want to see numbers sliced and diced their own way, they’re out of luck – or at best, once again dependent on someone else within the organization to help them out. There’s no ad hoc way to create custom reports based on their selection of financial and operational metrics, and no on-demand analytical capabilities built into the software.

Empowering the asset manager

RealPage is advancing new solutions to address the asset manager’s gaping need for reporting and analysis tools, so they can do their jobs effectively without depending on others in the organization or their own limited technical abilities.

Commercial Portfolio Management, a solution now available with the RealPage Commercial Property Management system, is all about empowerment: giving asset managers the ability to gather and analyze data on their own terms, on demand, and report it to owners and upper management as needed. There’s no need to wait for the accounting department to deliver information and hope it’s in the ballpark of what is needed. And no need to then take this information and try to shape it into the lens they want on the portfolio.

RealPage’s Commercial Portfolio Management does include an interactive dashboard with KPIs. The difference is that it also provides for on-demand analytics combining multiple KPIs into a single view, allowing managers to look for trends and opportunities in portfolio performance. Instead of living with whatever KPIs are built in, asset managers can specify what they want to look at, and how. And with the click of a mouse they can drill into underlying data that supports the selected KPIs for their portfolio.

If you haven’t looked into this exciting new solution for asset managers, get more information about commercial property management software.