Asset Tech Upgrades

By on Sep 14, 2018 in People, Technology

Until fairly recently, enterprise software platforms for real estate largely focused on accounting, finance and other back office operations. The advanced programming languages, mobile reach and internet capacity that enable automated workflows and remote access available for the back office hadn’t reached the front office.

Things are different today—for the better. In an article originally published in Journal of Property Management, Todd Huebsch, Yardi vice president of commercial sales, explains why.


New software applications squarely target the front office, lending new dynamism to leasing, customer services, facility management, development and other operations.

Todd Huebsch

What does the evolution of technology dedicated to the front office mean in practical terms? For one, it means that property management technology has reached the point where remote access is both affordable and effective for managers involved in leasing, construction and facilities management. It also means leasing and asset management can work a deal together with a previously unattainable degree of collaboration. Development vice presidents can evaluate risk with instant access to project status, instead of waiting for a weekly report. They can leverage ERP data such as lease comps, revenue trends, contractor and job analysis, to make better decisions.

Consider, for example, construction managers working to correct a problem with a building’s foundation. In an earlier era, they would call or email the back office, or even leave the site altogether to calculate the change order and negotiate the amount and cost code. Today, using apps designed specifically for their role, construction managers can enter the work order with just a few taps on a mobile device. The change order automatically flows to the back office and is recorded in the core property management and accounting platform. The adjustment is fully visible to all parties and the construction manager can stay on site, ready to tackle the next task.

Similarly, new role-based apps have facilitated lease negotiations between asset managers and third-party brokers. Deal reviews that previously required multiple emails or meetings can now be done with all parties looking at the same document simultaneously and communicating in real time via a built-in chat feature. Any doubt or confusion about which deal or version is under review is eliminated, and the immediate attention to issues pave the way to faster deal completion.

Another process that the new generation of front office technology has streamlined is budgeting and forecasting. Similar to construction managers, leasing agents in the field, lacking direct access to the back office, traditionally had to enter their lease assumptions with phone calls or multiple emails from a desktop. New mobile apps let them enter assumptions from their tablet, with the information flowing directly to the budgeting and forecasting engine. A time-consuming, error-prone workflow has given way to a more user-friendly and accurate process.

Technology no longer merely supports property management; it’s key to driving revenue, attracting and retaining tenants, satisfying stakeholders and retaining talent. Mobility and convenience are no longer luxuries but expected features. Giving asset managers tools previously available only to financial officers and other back office professionals is a sound investment for the entire organization. The payoff can include complete deal pipeline visibility, less risk, faster deal closures and job completions, up-to-date building maintenance, accurate revenue predictions and better all-around decision-making.