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The problem you didn’t know you had

by Charlie Trumpess

 20th November 2013 11:19 am

When we’re head down running the business, everyday frustrations are the norm. We tend to accept them as the cost of doing business. Question is, should we?

Take IT. In any building we’re dealing with all manner of technology. There’s the necessary bits and bytes like fast internet connectivity into and around it, the disaster recovery provision to ensure we can support business as usual in the event of some unplanned incident. And then there’s the stuff we need to make sure everything runs smoothly – property management software and the like.

Let’s not forget, the impact of building isn’t just in its postcode or fascia. There’s the ambience-creating technology that says ‘we’re modern, connected and a good place to live or work’ – flat screen displays in atriums, wireless access for visitors, great looking reception terminals, digital signage and more.

Here, the cost of doing business isn’t just the capital cost of all this technology. It’s the operational problems too. They’re often hidden, and too often they’re assumed to be simply the costs of doing business.

The time spent managing multiple vendors as you transition in and out. The time your building manager spends on the phone to resolve the various technology glitches – in a lift phone, or if the wireless is down, or if the CCTV feed drops out.

There’s no doubt these are increasing problems. Knowing who to call about what is harder now because buildings become technically driven, and more people are involved in keep it going. And it’s more challenging at the front and back ends too. More time spent agreeing multiple contracts and support agreements for all your technology. And more time spent managing all the invoices.

But while these are routine issues, they’re also avoidable.

For years enterprises have taken advantage of IT managed service contracts – outsourcing their procurement, implementation, management and support of everything from complex networks to laptops, AV systems and more.

With every building essentially a mini enterprise, why not move this model into the property management sector?

It’s already beginning to happen, but there’s a lot more that can be done. And it’s not just about consolidating all your IT suppliers – although that’s a great start. Establishing a managed service contract means that your provider is going to take a long look at the IT systems before you transition in – and they’ll be able to offer suggestions on how to make it more streamlined and more cost effective.

For me, the eureka moment comes when property management firms realise that routine operational frustrations of multiple suppliers and technologies are, in fact, solvable problems. And that there’s another way to go that will eliminate many of the costs of doing business.

It’s certainly worth looking into to it – if only to help your building manager sleep sounder at night.