Property Managers: Is It Time to Ditch the Spreadsheets?

Spreadsheet on a Laptop
Spreadsheets are a fixture in most property and facility management offices, used for keeping track of tenants, vendors, inspections, compliance, and more.

But, it might be time to step away from these dinosaurs and embrace a record-keeping system or software specifically built for property management and more amenable to analysis, collaboration, and clarity.

While spreadsheets are effective tools,
the static nature of the data limits what you can do with it. And managing buildings is dynamic.

Hundreds of things happen each week, from unit inspections and asset maintenance to new compliance violations and filing deadlines.

To capture these events, analyze them, and spot trends that can inform your management strategy, you need a record-keeping system that reflects this ever-changing environment. It needs to take historic data into account, limit time spent inputting data, and give you updated information in real-time, all of which is near impossible with traditional spreadsheets.   

Let’s go over some of the main problems spreadsheets pose for property management professionals.

#1 – To Err is Human

The accuracy of a spreadsheet is often dependent on the accuracy of the human inputting the data. We’d all like to believe we are infallible, but, unfortunately, we’re not.  If we were, America’s Funniest Home Videos would’ve never seen the success it did.

In property management, these small data errors can result in huge costs. If a property violation’s correction due date is typed in as 03/01/21, when it’s actually 02/01/21, you could receive large fines for the accidental tardiness.

These all too common errors can skew your analysis, leading to misguided strategies and action plans.

#2 – Who’s on First?

After you run a report in excel, it’s often sent out and saved by multiple parties. They then update their version with their own information. When it comes time to request that report sometime down the line, you may have 5 different versions, each telling a different story.  Deciphering which workbook is the most up to date is a challenge.

This lack of a centralized truth makes it difficult for property management professionals to collaborate. They each begin with different sets of premises and knowledge about the organization and properties.

Property managers need records that are true and current. There should be no more wasted time searching through email chains and folders for the “correct file”.

#3 – You’re Chained To Your Desk

 Facility managers spend a lot of time moving through their properties, running inspections, noting problems, assigning follow-up work, etc. If these important data records are hidden in a large spreadsheet, it can be difficult and annoying to find.

For example, how many times have you been on your commute home and thought about a recent compliance inspection? You might be wondering, “Hmm did we contract a vendor to remediate?” “Weren’t they supposed to show up last Monday?”

Instead of logging onto your laptop and laboriously searching through the tiny columns and rows for the answer, you should be able to pull up this answer in ten seconds. It’s another reason why a lot of property managers are turning to operations software that comes with a mobile option.

#4 – Get Trendy

Static records like locally-hosted spreadsheets or paper documents give you a finite piece of the puzzle. You need to spend time and energy putting that puzzle together to gain clarity on trends and opportunities to improve your facility management.

But excel spreadsheet analysis has a steep learning curve. You have to learn the formulas, macros, and data analysis skills. And that’s time-consuming work, especially for facility managers who have new assignments flapping like hungry seagulls into their to-do lists every hour.

Further, even if you do have analytical skills, spreadsheets lack historical data. Records are typically updated in the cell. Past information is replaced, and lost, making it nearly impossible to spot trends over time.

And trending data is how you test if your new daily rounds are resulting in fewer tenant complaints, or if there is a correlation between HVAC breakdowns and your new condenser. Essentially, trend-spotting is one of the best methods for finding ways to improve your facility’s operations.

So – Should You Make The Break?

Let’s help you see if dropping spreadsheets for a property management software platform is actually the right choice for you. Consider dropping spreadsheets if you:

  1. Have a lot of Data to Track & Analyze: If you have data coming in from many angles you are going to spend too much time on data input. Plus there will be more chances for error. With software platforms, you make a change once and it’s applied universally.
  2. Spend Lots of Time in the Field: A mobile-friendly app will make it easier to find the information you need while away from your desk.
  3. Want to Improve Team Collaboration: Teamwork is crucial for effective property management, especially when scaling your business. But collaborating with spreadsheets can be confusing and limiting.
  4. Don’t Want to Learn Advanced Excel: You want your entire team, not only excel wizards, to be able to analyze the health of your properties and spot trends.

Turn Data into Actionable Insights with Vitralogy

Vitralogy’s platform is purpose-built for Property/Facility managers looking to keep organized records, easily find hidden trends and truths, and take action on these findings to improve the effectiveness of their facility operations.

Powered by AI, the platform manages the workflow of your entire team, analyzing the resulting data in real-time to piece together a cohesive picture of your facility operations whether it be building compliance projects, asset management/maintenance, or daily rounds.

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