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Investment and development prospects across the Canadian commercial real estate industry continue to pose unique challenges and opportunities. The shared constant across associations is the expectation of financial prudence and effective stewardship of assets under management. As a result, many associations are investing in informed decision-making technologies which offer better access to accurate and timely information.
The ability to anticipate and adapt to change is integral to staying relevant in today’s constantly evolving digital landscape. Disruptive innovations and evolving business models are changing tenant and investor reporting expectations and redefining how you engage in the industry.
As both society and corporations continue to grow increasingly digital, so do the demands to realign community and organizational priorities — to grow revenues in new markets and control costs to maximize profitability. Finance departments usually are the gatekeepers of this information and disseminate it to other parts of your business, such as operations and property management.
This reinforces the need for a digital finance strategy. Not only to report on the day to day, but also to model, budget and scenario plan for future disruption to your association and the assets you manage.
A robust financial model remains one of the most powerful devices in your company’s tool belt to help evaluate the effects of market volatility. Client engagement is interactive; your financial and business models are important for optimizing the value of your assets, supporting your growth, profit and sustainability and maximizing community engagement in both the short- and long-term.
Some steps you can take to improve your decision making around digital strategy investments include:
Identify the backbone of your financial management operating system — If you’re just getting started as an owner-managed business, perhaps invest in an entry-level general ledger (GL) system to track engagement or augment your existing finance function.
If you’re an association with a dedicated finance team, you may benefit from standardizing on a more robust enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Use financial and operational models for effective scenario planning — Using spreadsheets to run your business? Perhaps it’s time to consider a dedicated financial planning and analysis platform.
Without historical data from current investments — or markets to understand the likelihood of future ones — it's difficult to forecast revenue and operating expenses. This type of scenario planning is often done manually through spreadsheets. However, business analytics technology, in conjunction with industry-specific ERP systems, has become increasingly popular for combining financial and operational data in a centralized system.
This allows for automatic data collection to track and analyze financial and operational information, resulting in:
Business leaders and properties often rely on finance to provide the right information in real time to help make informed decisions and drive operational effectiveness. By leveraging data from your existing ERP and transforming it into actionable insight through financial planning and analysis technology, finance supports the ongoing and future success of the business and assets under management with better collaboration, company-wide standardization and visibility to individual property management.
The need for commercial real estate to plan and revise budgets is critical, especially when it comes to protecting reserves, understanding maintenance fees, costs and understanding the effects of aging properties on resales. With an integrated planning approach, driven by a holistic digital finance strategy, technology is transcending your association to your portfolio properties.
Understanding what processes you can automate to improve decision-making, optimize costs and manage risks is crucial in setting a foundation for continuous improvement. Commercial real estate businesses of all sizes can look to technology as a change enabler and harness a digital finance strategy to translate strategic planning into tactful execution that drives both behaviour and assets under management performance.
For more information, contact Daniel Caringi, Partner, Consulting and Technology Solutions, at 416.596.1711 or
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