Armanino Blog

Why Real Estate Organizations Need Systems Integration

by Mark C Wagner
August 02, 2019

Whether you work in real estate development, leasing, property management or another area of real estate, misuse of property can derail your project. Getting the most out of every asset is critical in today's market. Why then do so many real estate firms struggle to use their internal tools to their maximum abilities?

Real estate organizations are highly reliant on their data and have complex reporting needs for both internal and external audiences. Firms often invest heavily in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and cloud tools to better their situation, only to layer siloed information in dissimilar systems.

When these systems do not talk to one another, it is necessary to painstakingly aggregate and organize data on a regular basis. These manual processes open the door for human error, outdated figures, and time lost on low-value data entry.

Are You Maximizing the ROI of Your Systems?

The influx of cloud and technical solutions has been a boon to the real estate industry. Property management and GL systems such as Yardi, Appfolio and UpTop return incredible features — and typically require a substantial investment. Too often, firms feel weighted down by their various systems instead of freed.

You need to ensure that you are getting the greatest return from these tools. Your software should enhance and support your workflow and add value to every facet of your organization.  With multiple siloed systems, you're only ever getting a small piece of the picture with every tool.

Not fully realizing the benefit of costly, sophisticated software is akin to a real estate holding company owning an apartment at a prime location but only achieving a 50% occupancy rate. Even with the best tools, if you're not realizing everything possible, every day should be treated as a loss.

Allow Your People to Play to Their Strengths

Finance groups in real estate organizations are typically lean and made up of highly skilled individuals who are singularly focused on doing more with less. Therefore, they often rely heavily on their operational teams for more of the day-to-day work.

This is not an effective use of anyone's time. A property manager should be able to focus on finding tenants and collecting rent. They should not need to know the idiosyncrasies of various finance and accounting tools.

Cross-training every employee on every tool is also time consuming and creates masters of none. Future employees will have a hard time picking up the system, and more time is spent on Excel than on managing the property. The result is a team that is specialized in software systems, instead of software systems that are specialized for your business.

Integration Turns a Blueprint Into a Ground-Breaking

By integrating your software systems, you enable automated information sharing. This allows your people to spend time on highly productive work instead of low-value tasks and frees your company for success.

You have two main integration options. You can build an integration from scratch, or you can go with a pre-built solution. Additionally, some companies may opt to do both. The optimal route depends on the complexity of the project and the desired data sets.

The benefit of building from scratch is a fully customizable solution. This means you have a say in the configuration of all the components related to the tool, including the user interface. While this provides the maximum amount of personalization, it also is usually the more costly approach.

Depending on your technology, prebuilt solutions can provide a less expensive and quicker route to integration. Another benefit is that typically, a prebuilt solution has already been vetted by numerous other users.

For example, we recently worked with a client in the student housing industry that was experiencing the common pitfalls described above. Only wanting the best, they utilized several leading platforms: Sage Intacct for ERP, Adaptive Insights for planning and Yardi for property management. Their intention was to harness cloud technology and streamline all their processes, but a complete lack of systems integration kept them from achieving their goals.

While all their platforms were very sophisticated and automated, the lack of communication caused them to revert to manual processes. They still had to export their data sets and massage the data in Excel to generate their desired reports. This brought human error into the picture and was not truly providing the highest ROI for their expensive technology.

Utilizing prebuilt, industry-tailored integration packs allowed the company to seamlessly transfer data between their tools. No longer was there doubt about whether a figure was accurate or up to date, or whether the user understood the systems.

Building that bridge eliminated the day-to-day busy work and supported the high-level decision making the company always knew was possible. Instead of hiring additional employees to support their growth, they were able to be more productive with the same team.

So if your organization is struggling with siloed data, consider systems integration. It will allow you to get the most out of your technology and free your people to do what they do best — helping drive your business success.

Explore Armanino's best-in-breed software solutions and integration packs that allow you to achieve maximum ROI from your systems.

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Mark Wagner, Consulting, Armanino
Senior Manager
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