Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Decentralization and Standardization: The Manager's View

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Decentralization and Standardization: The Manager's View

Article excerpt

Decentralization and Standardization: The Manager's View

Decentralization of computerized record keeping requires two partners-the owner and the manager. Two fee property managers who oversee buildings for Traveler's comment on the process of decentralization.

Bob Frankel Executive Vice President Bender & Company Livingstone, New Jersey

Although Bender & Company had used computerized property management programs for many years before the Traveler's implemented its standardization program, the new requirements did produce some changes.

Before implementing the Skyline system, our Traveler's property had essentially been compiling site data in a batch mode and then sending it to our main office for processing. As a result, our central office personnel were comfortable with computerized accounting, but our site managers were only accustomed to doing computerized word processing and budgeting at the properties.

When Traveler's informed us of their plans, we decided to carry decentralization one step further and reposition most of the data input and processing directly on site. This decision gave our site managers much more timely access to property financial and lease status reports; they had the information when they needed it instead of once a month from the central office.

Shifting data entry to the site also allowed the property, accounting, and asset managers in our main office to become more review-oriented. They can devote more time to analyzing ways to improve property performance. Accuracy is also ensured by our manually checking the relationships of items in various property reports we generate.

We still provide mandatory checks and balances on site by sending out managers from the central office to review the property's records for two days each month. Our accounting functions are still very much centralized, but all of the dynamic lease and accounts receivable data reside primarily at the individual property.

Because the property we manage for the Traveler's is near our corporate headquarters, we still go on site and cut payables checks. If the property was further away, we would probably have linked the site computer to our main office accounts payable system with Skyline's "Skylink."

Our prior familiarity with using Skyline at other properties we manager did help us in implementing the Traveler's program. We had to run parallel systems for only 30 days before going live. Normally, I would expect to run a parallel manual system for three to six months. This double workload proved a terrible strain on our employees when we last replaced our own computer system, and we were grateful to avoid it. Softa's excellent training also helped make the transition easier.

The additional data screens that the Traveler's commissioned for Skyline also made our management work easier. We had previously tracked much of the data required by these new screens manually or with a Lotus spreadsheet. Now all the lease abstract and accounting information is in one easy-to-access database, with easy-to-read report formats. In addition, by incorporating more extensive lease and physical property information into the system, the Traveler's made it simple for us to know exactly what information they thought was valuable to review. …

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