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Smarter, faster, better: Why property managers need to abandon spreadsheets and embrace automation and the cloud

By Scott Willson
03 August 2021 | 11 minute read
Scott Willson reb

Want access to accurate, up-to-the-minute information about your property portfolio? Then it’s time to scrap the spreadsheets for good and all, writes Scott Willson.

Is your organisation still using 20th-century tools and methods to oversee your holdings, generate property valuations and run your property management operations?

If you answered in the affirmative, you’re far from alone. The property sector has a well-deserved reputation for lagging behind, where the adoption of information technology is concerned.

Ours is an industry in which gut feel continues to triumph over data-driven decision-making and back-of-the-envelope calculations remain an acceptable basis for seven and eight-figure investment decisions.

Old-school technology that’s past its prime
As a result, the good, old-fashioned spreadsheet — 1980s computing at its finest! — continues to reign supreme when it comes time to create investment proposals, analyse cash flow and model finances.

This tried and trusty tool is also go-to technology for storing information on tenancy schedules, arrears notices, repairs and maintenance schedules and the like.

We see many organisations that have literally hundreds of spreadsheets in use simultaneously; each one a discrete little silo of business data that’s difficult for employees across the organisation to access in a hurry — or at all.

Inaccurate and expensive
The problem — one of the problems — with spreadsheets is they’re only as good as the skills of their maker. Consequently, they’re often riddled with errors, with a recent analysis of multiple studies showing that close to 90 per cent of spreadsheet documents contain at least one inaccuracy.

Where valuations are concerned, the cost of those errors can quickly add up — to an inaccurate picture of the value of your assets in the here and now. The result of that can be sub-optimal decision-making about current and future holdings, including whether to buy them, hold them, sell them or redevelop them.  

Spreadsheets can also be time-consuming — and, therefore, costly — to build and maintain, and their usefulness is frequently contingent on the individual who created them. Relying on them as a source of data and insights can put your organisation at a powerful disadvantage when you’re having to consider opportunities at speed and evaluate numerous deals simultaneously.

A quantum leap forward
But moving away from the status quo can seem like a risky move. So, what’s the answer for property companies that want to do things more accurately and efficiently?

At Forbury, we believe it’s by having the best of both worlds: putting paid to the old tools and methods and taking a great leap forward to a centralised, cloud-based platform, with an Excel frontend interface. Accessible from anywhere, it can act as a single source of truth that offers visibility over all your data and enables smart automation across the enterprise.

Rather than spending hours each week creating and updating multiple spreadsheets, intelligent technology can do the work in an instant, and do it accurately. When it comes to determining valuations, that means no more time wasted crunching numbers, correcting calculations and double-checking that the outputs are right. Instead, using software designed for the purpose, your team will be able to determine the value of commercial real estate assets quickly and with confidence.

That means business leaders won’t have to wait on the information they need to make important commercial decisions because it will be available at their fingertips, anytime, anywhere.

Embracing change

Inertia is a powerful force. For many property companies, persisting with old ways and means is a more comfortable proposition than embracing digital transformation and adopting new-generation programs and platforms. But as your competitors make the switch — and reap the rewards — doing nothing is starting to become a riskier option.  

That’s why 2021 should be the year your organisation says sayonara to your sheaf of spreadsheets and hello to a cloud platform that enables you to do much more, and to do it smarter, faster and better.

Scott Willson is the CEO of Forbury.

Smarter, faster, better: Why property managers need to abandon spreadsheets and embrace automation and the cloud
Scott Willson reb
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