21 Sep

How Efficient Is Your Property Management Company?

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Filing-Cabinet-1024x690.jpg 1024w, http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Filing-Cabinet.jpg 1280w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Walk around your office and various departments. Ask folks what tasks they absolutely hate to do or what seems pointless. You will gain a ton of insight about your processes and procedures. Find out why you do that task. Make sure you dig down deep and study the what-ifs of each task.

For instance, each time we do a batch of “X,” a paper printout is generated. The paper is then put into a bin and we file it byproperty. Every single company, building, and system is different so this example is just an illustration. The point is to ask, “What is the value of this task?” If you file this print-out by property, what is the value of that print-out, and how many times is it referenced or utilized? Why are you printing it at all, can the printing function be turned off? How long is the data retained? There are many questions to ask, but the most important point here is, somebody just needs to ask.

Tracking and naming files and logs is very time consuming so you should ask yourself and your team a few questions. Is it meaningful? How often do you reference the information? What happens to the information after one month, one year, etc.? In one case we had a supervisor instruct the staff to pull down a report, save it to a file, and create a name for the file each time a certain event occurred. On top of that step, the supervisor created an Excel spreadsheet to document the occurrence, and listed it out by date. They did this each time. While doing my weekly walk (remember PMBWA?), I asked a team member what they were working on. They let me know about this logging task and how they felt about it. Once we discussed this with the supervisor and assured her that this data entry and log was not warranted, we were able to stop this process. There were cheers heard throughout this department as people were so glad to find out this busy work was going to stop. It turned out to be a task that took 4 employees approximately 10 minutes every single day to accomplish. That task was eliminated which reduced the waste of data entry labor, server storage, and management oversight to the tune of $5,000 in inefficiency. If we couple that with several other tasks we found and eliminated, we were able to add more properties without adding staff, which is the name of the game. It is not that we ever want to eliminate our personnel and talent, but we want to focus on how we can help them, and the company, grow without adding to our team!

In property management there are many important things we do, but we do not have time to do execute all of these tasks. You need to find the essential work (responding to customers, marketing properties, attending educational seminars, etc.) and get rid of the busy work! If we feel we do not have time for those essential tasks, are we filling our days with too much busy work? Is the owner or accounting making wasteful demands of our time? If outside demands start to add up, you may have to ask the property owner if they really need all these reports, or if they would rather have their property 100% occupied?

I am not saying that this solves all of your efficiency problems, but eliminating wasted busy work is a start! It is amazing how much you will find out about your operation by finding out what people hate to do most. In exchange, replace the task with more important functions that will bring in more rent, fill the property, make it safer, or increase its value. That should be the focus, not the mundane tasks!

“More content available at All Things Property Management by Buildium, industry leaders in Online Property Management Software.”


13 Sep

How Can I Automate or Eliminate FAQ for Commercial Property and Facility Managers

Q. How do I begin to automate or eliminate tasks that will make our property or facility management operations more efficient?

A. The most effective way to understand the task is to investigate. Or as I fondly think of this: investigate to automate or eliminate! The only way I have found to reduce our detail-laden industry is to follow each task like a detective and ask tons of questions. Hence the term, investigate!

In my past positions I would literally walk around and ask people what they were doing and why? I would also ask myself the same question about my own processes and procedures constantly. It was important for me to analyze what I was doing and reflect on how often that task would benefit our operation or company.

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/file-cabinet-2-189x300.jpg 189w" sizes="(max-width: 221px) 100vw, 221px" />My favorite example is filing of anything made of paper. When I polled the staff on what task was the most hated, it was a unanimous vote of – FILING PAPER! Everyone hated it and felt it was wasteful. We began to analyze what we were filing and how we were filing it. Once we learned of the task, we began to measure the frequency of our need to access that paper we filed and how we accessed it: month, alphabetical, property name, client name, chronological, etc.

With a simple task such as filing, and changing your current ways, you will notice so much efficiency unfolding. You must analyze each task with the goal of either elimination or inclusion with another task to make it work smart for you! It may seem tedious, but property and facility management operations are so detail oriented that it really does require an in-depth analysis or investigation of what and why things are being done. Use this simple and short checklist. Post it around the office. Put it in your employee newsletter. Make this your motto – – Investigate to automate or eliminate!

Investigate to Automate or Eliminate!
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• Think digital. Be sure all of your data and documents are on your server system.
• Follow the reports. Where are they being stored?
• Start a future cut-off date today. In other words, effective 2011, we will no longer ________________________.
• Whatever it is you are doing in 2010, try to stop doing it in 2011. Start a new method with a new year. It makes so much sense because it is easy to remember and document. For instance, if you print reports and file the reports in paper form. Stop all reports as of December 2010. Starting in January 2011, they will be in .pdf (portable document format) and filed in a certain folder on your server.
• Insure all MISSION CRITICAL folders on your server are backed up with a strict method in place. Back-ups need a back-up as well.
• What is inside all of those filing cabinets and how often are they retrieved?
• Back away from the copy machine.
• Stop using the fax machine and start using the scanner or only use the fax machine to scan it.
• How is it being filed/sorted? Is it by property or facility? How you file can make a difference in time and efficiency. By year, month, etc.
• Does everything need a file? Do you really need to file it at all? Keep digging and determining what you really need as compared to what it costs you to perform that task.

We have created a poll at trendycharts called ‘Investigate to Automate or Eliminate’ Are You Thinking Property and Facility Management Efficiency? We would love to see the trend in our industry today and how it evolves. What type of efficiency-minded thinker are you? Will this article change your mind about how you do think? Take the poll and let’s see how our industry is thinking today and into the future.

Investigate to Automate or Eliminate.