As a measure of how critical reporting is in property management, consider this: from 25% to 30% of all implementation efforts center around reporting. That’s because commercial property management professionals are only as good as the data they use to make decisions. If the data is difficult or impossible to retrieve, they’re hamstrung in their jobs. And having to go through extra steps or turn to the accounting department every time they want to look at data a different way sharply limits their effectiveness.
Standard and optional reporting features vary greatly between property management systems, and you can’t always depend on their ability to grow with your needs. In many cases, expanding reporting capabilities involves expensive add-ons and customization – and even after they’re in place, these bolted on tools suffer from a lack of tight integration with the base property management system.
With these things in mind, here are the six reporting features to look for in a commercial property management system:
1. Filterable standard reports
All property management systems have standard reports, but not all standard reports are the same. Though they’re called standard for a reason (they come pre-created with the solution), not everyone wants to look at the data they contain in the same way. Asset managers and property managers, for example, view the business through different lenses. You need the ability to apply filtering, sorting, totaling and grouping criteria – and to save these criteria for future sorts and searches, so you don’t have to re-specify them every time you want to look at data in the same way.
2. User-configurable grids and queries
Let’s say you’re looking for leases that share a certain characteristic: leases by property, or leases by type, or expiring during a certain period. When you pull up a screen showing all your leases, it’s important for you to be able to apply filters, sorts and views to isolate theses subsets of information without having to run a report or analytic. And you should be able to save these “favorite” searches for later use.
3. Integrated financial report writer
Make sure a financial report writer is integrated into the core of your commercial property management solution – not a bolt-on. This is important for reasons of reporting capability (for complex financial reports) as well as visual appearance and ease of use.
4. Integrated, configurable dashboards
You don’t want your dashboards to be add-ons – you want them built right into the core software. And they should be configurable by role and user to display the exact information each person wants to see at a glance, whether operational or financial. Note that some property software vendors force you to buy a separate BI (business intelligence) system to enjoy this dashboard functionality.
5. Realtime excel integration
Your property management system should be truly integrated with the Excel desktop so many managers still use – and not just “compatible.” This means, for example, that Excel runs within your security framework so you’re not bypassing your core security when you use it. You should be able to access all data within the property management system, whether operational or financial; create superfunctions and supercalculations that are storable, reusable and can be shared with others; and package and broadcast your reports to other stakeholders. You should be able to pull data directly from the property management system and drop it into Excel, and drill down into the underlying data and pivot tables.
6. On-demand analytics
Most commercial property management systems ignore the needs of a critically important stakeholder: the asset manager. They’re geared towards back-office accounting and property management staff. Look for the on-demand analytics and reporting that asset managers need, rather than forcing them to rely on the accounting department to feed the data to them in order to do their jobs – often in a form that’s not ideal for their analysis and decision-making. They’re business people, not techies, and they need the right data at their fingertips rather than have to wrangle it and shape it into the form they need.
Check off these six characteristics of commercial property management software and you can be sure you’re at the head of the pack when it comes to empowering your people to maximize their time and talents!