And the advanced programming languages, mobile reach and
internet capacity that enable automated workflows and remote
access available for the back office hadn’t reached the front office.
Things are different today—for the better. New software
applications squarely target the front office, lending new dynamism to leasing, customer services, facility management, development and other operations. Role-based user interfaces simplify tasks and provide a direct connection between the property
operations team and their back-office teammates, external brokers and other stakeholders. The front office can work faster,
easier and in greater harmony with the full enterprise.
WHAT DOES THE EVOLUTION OF TECHNOLOGY DEDICATED TO THE FRONT OFFICE MEAN IN PRACTICAL
TERMS? It signals that property management technology has
reached the point where remote access is both affordable and
effective for managers involved in leasing, construction and
facilities management. It also means leasing and asset management can complete deals with a previously unattainable
degree of collaboration. Development vice presidents can immediately evaluate risk and make better decisions with instant
access to data such as lease comps, revenue trends and contractor and job analysis.
Or consider construction managers working to correct a
problem with a building’s foundation. In an earlier era, they
would call or email the back office, or even leave the site alto-
gether. Today, using apps designed for their role, they can enter
the work order from a mobile device. The change order auto-
matically flows to the back office and is recorded in the property
management and accounting platform. The adjustment is fully
visible to all parties and the construction manager can stay on
site, ready to tackle the next task.
Similarly, new role-based apps have facilitated lease negotiations between asset managers and third-party brokers. Deal
reviews that previously required multiple emails or meetings
can be done with all parties reviewing and discussing the same
Another process that the new generation of front office technology has streamlined is budgeting and forecasting. Similar to
construction managers, leasing agents in the field, lacking direct
access to the back office, traditionally had to enter their lease assumptions with phone calls or multiple emails. New mobile apps
let them enter assumptions from their tablet, with the information flowing directly to the budgeting and forecasting engine. A
time-consuming, error-prone workflow has given way to a more
user-friendly, accurate process.
TECHNOLOGY NO LONGER MERELY SUPPORTS PROPERTY MANAGEMENT—IT’S KEY TO DRIVING REVENUE,
ATTRACTING AND RETAINING TENANTS AND SATISFYING STAKEHOLDERS. Mobility and convenience are no longer
luxuries but expected features. The payoff can include complete
deal pipeline visibility, less risk, faster deal closures and job completions, up-to-date building maintenance, accurate revenue
predictions and better all-around decision-making.
UNTIL FAIRLY RECENTLY, ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE PLATFORMS FOR
REAL ESTATE LARGELY FOCUSED
ON ACCOUNTING, FINANCE AND
OTHER BACK OFFICE OPERATIONS.
Here’s Food for Thought
By Todd Huebsch
Todd Huebsch is vice president of commercial sales at Yardi. Yardi is
an IREM Chairman Level Industry Partner. This article is published in
JPM® as part of that partnership.