Since property asset managers deal with numerous property data types and data entries daily, compromised data – whether data is outdated, missing, inconsistent or contain errors – becomes a common problem faced by many.
This problem is not unique to real estate property management but is a general issue in information management.
Considering the pillars of information management: people – process – technology – content, there are three practices you can apply to improve the quality of your property data:
- Create a process for maintaining property data
- Get your team onboard
- Asses data quality regularly
Next, we’re going to go through these practices detail by detail.
1. Create a process for maintaining property data
One of the main causes of data problems is often the way data is recorded and stored. This is common particularly in property asset management because property data comes usually from different sources, both internally and externally.
A simple solution here is to have a standardized business process in place with conventions and rules to guide your data maintenance routine. Make sure to cover several key elements in this process:
- What is the essential data for your practices?
- How to input information correctly for each data field?
- How often property data should be updated?
- Who is responsible for each data maintenance task?
- How to review data quality and check for data errors?
Let’s consider managing your basic property information. Do you have a timeline to verify square footages of all properties? Or is there a convention on how property address should be recorded (to avoid variation e.g. Hämeentie 10 A, 00101 Helsinki, Finland or Hämeentie 10 A, Helsinki 00101, Finland)? Guidelines for such practices might seem trivial but collectively they define the shape of your property data.
2. Get your team onboard
Even the most perfect process is useless without it being practiced.
This is why communicating the data maintenance standards and encouraging your team to comply is an important next step. Think of your team in this context as everyone involved in managing your asset, including external personnel.
To get your team on board, consider offering:
- Training on process and standards for data entry
- A reward for team members who have high-quality data
Systematic training is great to establish standardization in your operation. Organizing training for all people involved in your entire portfolio at once might be overwhelming. Consider taking a step by step approach, e.g. start with facility managers then proceed with lease-hold managers, risk managers, etc.
Take time to make sure everyone understands and is able to implement the conventions accurately.
In order for the process to uphold in the long run, it is necessary to enforce the best practices using recognition and rewards.
Don’t hesitate to compliment and offer a bonus to your property managers for their data maintenance efforts!
3. Assess property data’s quality regularly
Even though you would have a process in place that your team follows strictly, you can still face data problems due to human errors.
Some mistakes can be spotted easily while others can be lost in a mist of information chaos. Hence, monitoring your database regularly is needed for having consistent, high-quality data.
Whether you have simple document storage or advanced property management system(s), having a defined method to assess data quality will result in major improvement in data’s overall condition.
This is especially true when dealing with multiple information sources in which cross-checking between sources is imperative.
Data assessment can be done either according to a predetermined schedule or as random inspection. Since the task can be complex and require a thorough understanding of your property data structure, having a data expert or dedicated team member to monitor and correct your data regularly is certainly more effective than holding semi-annual or annual reviews.
Maintaining data, for any organization, is an investment that will yield short and long-term benefits. For property asset management, well-maintained property data helps you stay current and eliminate hidden risks in your portfolio.