Over the past few years many corporate CRE departments have delayed information system investments despite a critical need for analytical tools to develop strategies that benchmark portfolio/facility financial performance, reduce occupancy costs and achieve greater efficiencies.
This pent up demand will inevitably result in IT spending to address this need in the coming year. When you head into the market keep in mind a quote from eBiz Strategies’ Phil Wales, “the tools are cool, but the processes rule.”
Meaning, there are a lot of potential RE/FM point solutions, IWMS systems and ERP platforms that boast impressive value propositions. But, when you begin your evaluation (and you should), concentrate on improving your data integrity procedures and internal business processes BEFORE you decide on a technology/software solution by:
- Developing a multi-disciplined project team of professionals from CRE/facilities, finance/accounting, operations, outsourced FM providers, IT and procurement
- Conducting work sessions to document critical CRE tasks (acquisition/disposition, lease administration, work orders, moves/adds/changes, space management of occupancy/vacancy, maintenance, and departmental dependencies)
- Refining the workflows to gain greater efficiencies, data input adoption and improve internal customer satisfaction
- Cataloging systems you’re currently using and determine ones that are working well while you begin to articulate/prioritize the functionality “must have” and “would like to have”
- Talking to CRE industry leaders to determine their suggested approaches to the use of systems
- Soliciting requests for information from 10-12 vendors – they may contribute industry best practices
- Working with your procurement professionals to champion a formal process and narrow the list to no more than five firms and issue requests for proposals
- Scheduling online demonstrations
- Inviting 2-3 finalists to make formal presentations of how their system will address your new and improved processes
- Selecting a finalist to lock down the project scope of work, price, timeline, escalation procedures, deliverables, GO LIVE date, etc.
A consultant can play an important role facilitating the overall process and an implementation partner is crucial to the project’s success but, be sure you dedicate an internal resource who can commit 50-75% of their time to move the process along.
Throughout the systems selection ‘journey’ keep in mind that, “the CRE tools that are available in the market possess some powerful features and broad functionality but, it’s collecting reliable data and improving the critical business processes that should rule” in what you ultimately deploy.
What have been your experiences about improving processes and sourcing CRE information solutions?