Can Spreadsheets Fulfill Property Operations Needs?

Long gone are the days of property owners and facilities managers relying solely on basic spreadsheets, numerous phone calls, text messages and emails to successfully manage their operations. Professionals in the real estate industry have come to adopt newer, more effective and efficient technologies as a means to get work done. However, acquiring and implementing these technologies, training staff members, and convincing them to quickly ramp up and adopt the new technologies are often seen as insurmountable obstacles. The looming thought of a considerable financial burden is also seen as a major hindrance. When organizations find themselves in such a conundrum, they seek a less expensive, less complicated tool. Oftentimes that tool may be a web-based spreadsheet. In an effort to save both time and costs, web-based spreadsheet solutions are used as a stop-gap measure. Seems reasonable, right? Most organizations are already using these solutions free of charge throughout their workplace, solutions such as Google Drive, Excel Online or Zoho Sheet. And, at first glance, the functionality provided appears to sufficiently fulfill the organization’s operational needs. Nevertheless, this functionality is extremely limited in comparison to property operations software solutions. Below we explore the top 6 most common differentiators between property operations software and web-based spreadsheets.

Collaboration Functionality is Flawed and Not Robust

Web-based spreadsheet technologies often tout the fact that many users can effectively work together on projects and documents. Unfortunately, this is collaboration at its most basic level. Solutions such as Common Areas’ Collaborative Operations Software allow you to work simultaneously with stakeholders both within and outside of the organization. The facilities manager, landscaper, plumber, secretary, property owner, and tenant can all access the solution and work seamlessly together to identify issues, note precise locations, track and manage problems until they are effectively resolved. Establishing permissions and granting access rights within a web-based spreadsheet can be clumsy at best. Not so with a true property operations software solution. The security protocols established within web-based spreadsheets is mainly left to the end users; therefore, although it is easy to share documents from user to user, actually controlling those shares, especially to users and clients outside of your organization, is quite another story. In effect, this opens the door to the threat of a data breach for organizations – an unwanted and costly result of the mismanagement of collaboration security protocols.

Inadequate Work Order Management

A web-based spreadsheet will allow you to list work orders that need to be assigned for resolution and users may modify the work orders. Yet, a more robust system such as property operations software will give you the ability to augment that work order, giving the assignee complete details that will ensure the job gets done in a timely, efficient manner. Unlike property operations software, there is no connection to a mapping system, so it is impossible to drop a GPS locator pin onto the precise location where an issue resides. And, as a work order or a project is updated and/or revised, users are not notified in real time of changes which could lead to discrepancies, increased time to resolve issues, increased costs, and overall chaos.

Hard to Locate Critical Documents/Awkward Filing System

A property operations software solution allows you to quickly and easily create, file, and access your most important documents. Unlike web-based spreadsheets, property operations software acts as a centralized hub for critical documents such as work order details, invoices, leasing agreements, electronic site plans, photos and videos, and more. Filing, managing, and retrieving documents is much more intuitive and user-friendly. One of the biggest downfalls of the web-based spreadsheet’s filing system is the fact that anyone with editing capabilities can move files and folders around and delete files indiscriminately or simply by accident. The archaic permissions settings create confusion and headaches within the organization as users try to grapple with the administrative difficulties of finding what they need, when they need it.

Lack of Preventive and Scheduled Maintenance Capabilities

Property operations software solutions offer built-in preventive and scheduled maintenance features. According to whatever schedule has been set up, the software will automatically trigger alerts and work orders and assign tasks to be undertaken. Conversely, a web-based spreadsheet solution can track the maintenance history; however, without the use of a third-party add-on, it cannot automatically schedule and assign preventive actions to commence and there is no calendar management at all. Some web-based spreadsheet providers offer templates to address this problem. Users will still find it hard to locate information relating to the maintenance records of a specific piece of equipment, for example, as the templates are not user-friendly.

Project and Workflow Management Features are not Present

Workflows are crucial to your organization. They help improve the productivity of your stakeholders and aid in keeping control of all of your projects and managing a vast amount of data. Property operations software providers have a robust workflow engine as part of their solution. The workflows automate an organization’s business processes and define the flow of data, tasks, and events. Typically, web-based spreadsheets are not a good substitute as they can only offer this feature by interfacing with a third-party add-on.

Mediocre Reporting Capabilities

Web-based spreadsheets fall short in the area of reporting as well. Users find it not only difficult to manipulate and update the data that has been input but also to visually display the reporting results in a manner that is coherent for all stakeholders that need to be in the know. A property operations software system excels in this area. Unlike a spreadsheet, the reporting features of a property management software system enable an organization to glean meaningful and actionable insights from the treasure trove of data the system compiles. This will allow an organization to make better business decisions based on real data. Quickly and easily extract data to generate reports that detail productivity rates, track KPIs, discern trends and weaknesses, get a labor summary or obtain equipment history, and more. Clearly, property management software systems have revolutionized the business decision-making process for forward-thinking organizations that want to effectively manage their operations and retain a competitive advantage in their industries.

It is fairly obvious that there are many notable disadvantages to using web-based spreadsheets as opposed to property operations software solutions. Organizations should not be swayed by the multitude of free web-based spreadsheet options in the marketplace. Oftentimes the old adage ͞You get what you pay for͟ holds true. Before deciding to use web-based spreadsheets as a band-aid to solve complex property management operations issues, organizations must ensure that the tools they select positively affect stakeholder productivity, business process efficiencies and overall return on investment. In light of the myriad of benefits described herein, selecting a property operations software solution for your organization can be seen as a most compelling and advantageous business decision.

To learn more about how Common Areas Collaborative Operations Software solutions can help your business rise to a level above web-based spreadsheets, click here and schedule a demo today!