If you have ever worked as part of a CRE team, you will know all too well the business need for good collaboration. By choosing the right collaboration tools (like SharePoint solutions), you can begin to address some of the complexities involved in managing a portfolio of properties, such as the following:
Executives attempting to make portfolio-wide decisions based on outdated and siloed data;
Accountants trying to understand and approve a change order with little to no context;
General Contractors and Vendors unable to share an updated site plan remotely with an on-site vendor;
Project Managers struggling to retrieve a simple status update from multiple teams situated in different geographical locations;
Third Party Managers viewing progress updates without access to clients’ systems;
Property Managers trying to continuously improve aging buildings without having access to past knowledge and learnings.
There are many challenges and the list goes on…
This is where CRE technology can be very helpful.
[Pauline Nee's guest blog post on Duke Long's blog provides a fantastic summary of the complexity of CRE teams and gives real purpose to CRE technology and what it attempts to solve: to support the business of real estate by empowering CRE teams to make complex, unified decisions.]
With so many collaboration tools out there today: Slack, Yammer, Hipchat, Trello, DropBox, Box.com, Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, just to name a few; you'll be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed when deciding which one to integrate into your CRE technology platform. We'd recommend that you analyze what you have today and decide on the best tool which would not only complement your existing technology stack, but also add value to it.
One such alternative which often meets this criterion is SharePoint and Office 365. Many CRE firms already use Office, Windows and Exchange. SharePoint and the Office 365 platform attempts to complement these products by providing a layer of collaboration and control, allowing teams to work together from a single place of contact.
Centralizing your team’s activities, SharePoint solutions have many benefits:
- Improving communications
- Facilitating document sharing
- Helping to capture knowledge
- Enhancing business intelligence
- Simplifying your processes
- Reducing turnaround times through immediate access to information
- Enabling better knowledge sharing across the entire team
Should you also wish to avoid costly on-premises hardware and installations, SharePoint is also cloud-enabled through Office 365, enabling you to concentrate on value-based initiatives from the get-go.
If customizations are required, SharePoint’s new cloud-enabled app development model known as SharePoint Add-ins (previously known as SharePoint Apps) future-proofs your customizations, allowing you to focus on value-based initiatives instead of spending valuable time debugging custom code during product upgrades and migrations. Custom development becomes no longer a concern.
Figure 1: SharePoint and Office 365 as a CRE platform
How SharePoint and Office 365 can help you integrate your business:
Project Managers can share weekly status reports via a central task list and upload critical dates to shared calendars.
General contractors and vendors can submit change orders via a defined set of custom forms which can be linked to submitted issues or status updates to provide context; and can easily manage and find project documentation via document metadata and a powerful search.
Brokers can get insight into soon-to-be available spaces via dashboards which consolidate relevant status updates on construction.
On-site vendors can securely access site plans and other documents on their tablets or phones via the One Drive mobile app.
IT can provide Third Party Managers with secure access to their project site to view critical progress updates.
Managers and executives can access all project information in one location, and create and view custom Power BI dashboards. These are made available using out-the-box system integration tools allowing them to spot bottlenecks and view overall project health.
These use cases are just a small part of what a CRE team does on a daily basis, however they demonstrate what is possible if an effective CRE platform is placed at the heart of a CRE team. It connects every individual, simplifies and standardizes processes and brings real-time data to the centre of team communications.
The SharePoint and Office 365 platform provides for a solid alternative for this and can add immediate value to the existing tools you already employ.