A guide to data-driven leadership
See the big picture with a single, integrated view of your property operations
Finding balance in a fast-paced world
Being asked to achieve more with less is a constant balancing act that is fast becoming the ‘norm’ for many property organisations. Shareholders and boards are looking to executive leadership to collectively enable, achieve and exceed strategic goals. For leaders in the property and infrastructure industries, this typically means equipping their organisation to make informed and timely decisions that guarantee service levels and mitigate risks, while maximising the utility of property assets and shareholders’ return on investment.
Achieving this in a world that is being rapidly reshaped by technology, in what the World Economic Forum describes as the fourth industrial revolution, is not a straightforward task. The relentless pace of change means that even the most mature organisations are finding it increasingly harder to keep pace and anticipate what is required to effectively deliver services.
Today’s tech-savvy customers and employees also have high expectations of what they’ll receive - which is nothing less than guaranteed access to essential services. When peoples’ lives or work are interrupted by digital assets that are badly designed or fail, they become frustrated and increasingly vocal through social and other media outlets. High-profile dissatisfaction puts organisations under pressure from the media, regulatory bodies and governments, leading to greater scrutiny or red tape, which can hamper business agility and performance.
As business volatility increases, so will potential claims for compensation, unless your organisation has the mechanisms in place to meet service-level expectations. As a leader, your ability to predict and influence the value of property assets, operate and maintain properties, deliver services and make informed decisions, all while engaging and informing your customers, will become even more important.
Building a foundation
In dealing with this rapidly changing operating environment, it’s critical not to lose sight of the importance of getting the basics of property management right and laying a strong foundation to facilitate transformation. CEOs want their organisation to focus on ‘basics’ like improving property management practices and investing in ERP and automation capabilities, rather than in shiny, new ‘pure digital’ technologies (think AI, IoT, Mixed Reality, Digital Twins).
So, what does a solid a foundation for property developers and funds look like? Global best practices put the emphasis on defined and consistent approaches to sharing information across your organisation. The international benchmark for asset management—ISO 55000—endorses an integrated organisation-wide approach as a means of enabling informed decisions, well-run organisations and ultimately, value for stakeholders. While leaders know property operations are a part of their broader remit to drive innovation, productivity, compliance and performance gains, they sometimes overlook the full cost of incomplete or conflicting information that is managed and maintained by disparate departments or people, processes, data and technology scattered throughout their organisation.
Aligning with global standards
The body responsible for global standard-setting, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), advocates an integrated approach to asset management.
According to ISO 55001, optimal asset lifecycle management
should be influenced by four fundamental principles
ValueFocus on the VALUE that properties provide to the organisation and its stakeholders.
AlignmentALIGNMENT between property decisions and achieving organisational objectives.
LeadershipUse of LEADERSHIP and workplace culture to create value for the organisation.
AssuranceUse of digital transformation to provide ASSURANCE to customers and stakeholders.
Alignment with these guiding principles necessitates a coordinated, whole-of-organisation approach to digital transformation, underpinned by a connected set of integrated processes and technology that helps you to understand all parts of your organisation in a uniform way. This approach should integrate business functions - such as Finance, HR, Procurement, Logistics and Operations - with property functions to work as a homogenous unit with a common goal of optimising performance, while minimising the cost of ownership across the property lifecycle. Many organisations are held back from achieving ISO 55000 alignment because they lack the ‘glue’ that binds all their systems and processes together. While your processes may work well in isolation, a technology-enabled integrated approach completes the picture, allowing organisations to manage their property portfolio efficiently, realise best-practice alignment and streamline their property operations.
JWH GROUP case study
Pep Oliveri, JWH Group’s CTO, said: “A major issue we faced was the time taken in obtaining and producing the group reporting, and reconciling the accounting and financial systems at a consolidated level.”
JWH Group is now using TechnologyOne’s integrated enterprise solution to automate its Accounts Payable process and improve its reporting capabilities.
“We’ve gone from using three disparate, legacy accounting systems, to one up-to-date whole-of-business solution.”
“It’s made life a lot easier because our General Managers can see how their companies are performing, they know invoices are being paid and their clients are being looked after,” said Oliveri.
JWH GroupJWH Group is using TechnologyOne’s integrated enterprise solution to automate its Accounts Payable process and improve its reporting capabilities.
Barriers in your business
Effective property management is ultimately enabled by people, process, data and technology. When operating and integrating well, these functions can become enablers for effective decision-making. However, they often operate as silos, and in this case, irrespective of how robust they might be, the organisation can be left blindsided by a lack of information management.
Silos in your people, processes and data
Consider the way many organisations manage their property operations via multiple departments. For example, the team that looks after day-to-day admin and maintenance may be separate from the team that undertakes long-term capital planning and associated activities. Although both teams’ work activities can impact each other, they will often use independent people, processes, data and technology, which do not share a common view of a given property. Additionally, supporting business functions like finance, human resource management, procurement and logistics indirectly affect how properties are managed, yet often rely on their own unique processes, spreadsheets and manual systems.
Loosely coupled data from disparate sources that don’t share the same internal taxonomy, logic, KPIs or information currency is a recipe for confusion—not clarity and consistency.
This lack of unified data doesn’t enable consistent, informed decision-making because fragmented, uncontrolled information is often less reliable and incomplete.
Silos in your technology
Despite the obvious need for a more unified approach to managing property portfolios, some organisations avoid making change because they have invested so heavily in their existing technology.
Traditionally, property developers and funds have favoured the use of standalone point, best-of-breed or custom-built software to manage discrete parts of their operations. While this approach probably satisfies the requirements of individual business functions, in doing so, organisations are assuming that key business disciplines can be managed via isolated, or at best, loosely connected or manual arrangements.
In a complex organisation responsible for managing critical property assets—that assumption is a fallacy.
It’s equally risky to believe that best-of-breed or custom-built solutions don’t come at a cost.
How are you paying?
- Are you paying because teams have to work harder to share and interpret information across departments?
- Are you paying through support, maintenance and upgrades, the added time and energy it takes your IT team to keep the lights on, all at the cost of ignoring business transformation initiatives?
- Or, are you paying because your decisions are not as informed, appropriate or well-timed as required?
Traditional ERP software often has one of two flaws:
- It is easy-to-use, but doesn’t offer sophisticated insight across the business
- It is specialised or bespoke, but doesn’t integrate with other parts of your business
The reliance on custom-built solutions or spreadsheets typically results in an overly simplistic view, which doesn’t offer the right level of detail to ensure data completeness and conformity. You need solutions with advanced business logic and rich features to deliver in-depth insights.
Consider a simple case of a single commercial property. This isolated property alone can’t support strategic decision-making, but if your software can guide your team with consistent and up-to-date information about similar properties in a given market, it can contribute to a meaningful understanding of growth potential, property depreciation and service level impact. This then feeds decisions on expenditure and subsequent capital and operational strategy.
On the flip side, standalone asset management software may be advanced in terms of features and functions, but if it is not integrated with your other enterprise software systems, you are potentially missing pieces of the puzzle when it comes to making better strategic decisions.
Property decisions are multi-faceted in nature and often need to be considered in conjunction with other enabling pieces of information: if property information can’t be contextualised and integrated with finance, procurement, logistics and operations data, your picture is incomplete and potentially only conveying part of a broader story.
The lack of a unified, integrated approach will, in most instances, not enable consistent, informed decision-making. Fragmented, uncontrolled information is less reliable and accurate, and is often incomplete. This, in turn, does not lay a good foundation for organisational effectiveness, rapid iterative change and attainment of prescribed service levels.
"Making the right decisions is a heavy responsibility and one that hinges on well-designed, integrated approaches and tools that are embedded within your organisation."
Integrate and transform
Leaders with the courage to disrupt business as usual by initiating transformational change will benefit from integrated solutions that enable you to stay abreast of change, while creating an ongoing culture of innovation and high performance across your organisation.
When it comes to successfully driving transformation to streamline property operations, remember the adage of ‘crawl before you walk’.
True transformational change cannot happen through the latest technological advances alone and it is essential you have the foundational building blocks in place first – integrated people, processes, data and technology.
Making the right decisions is a heavy responsibility and one that hinges on well-designed, integrated approaches and tools that are embedded within your organisation.
Properly implemented integrated property portfolio management enables organisations to make informed decisions about how, when and where to allocate expenditure, resources and people in both the effective management of assets and in guaranteed delivery of essential services.
It’s time to streamline and improve. It’s time to push back against processes that encourage silos, and instead automate information sharing through enterprise approaches that reduce time-wasting, duplication and inconsistencies.
Having the information you need to demonstrate leadership in the face of the unprecedented changes occurring in your industry can only come from a whole-of-organisation approach.
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