Is Lack of Internal Communication Affecting the Operations of Your Property Management Group?October 30, 2014
By Jennifer P. Hogencamp, CPA, CHAE
Communication is much like art—whether it’s considered good is in the eye, or ear, of the beholder. The ability to balance a checkbook does not indicate an expertise in accounting, just as the ability to follow a recipe does not make one a chef. In the same way, the ability to enunciate clearly or write legibly does not make one an effective communicator. Presuming that speaking and writing are the same as communicating is one of the great obstacles to organizational effectiveness.
The lack of proper internal communication affects organizations in areas such as decision-making, inter-departmental coordination and team cohesion. In the realm of property management, incomplete and slow sharing of information among asset management, finance, insurance and legal departments affects financial reporting and can lead to inaccurate reporting to owners and defaults on agreements. It is imperative that as agreements get signed or modified, there are proper controls and safeguards in place ensuring that appropriate departments are notified.
Optimizing information availability across departments creates a unified view of properties under management, which can forestall bank interventions, increase revenue and margins and maximize customer service.
Property management groups can apply near- or real-time reporting across a number of functional areas, including finance and operations, creating "one version of the truth". Allowing for remote access to management systems is now must-have functionality for any organization, particularly ones with portfolios of properties scattered across cities, states or whole regions. Allowing employees to connect to a system from anywhere is crucial for groups that must deal with employees working in scattered locations.
Web-based software is a necessary part of that access. Employee portals allow staff to become more connected to other departments as they will have instant access to asset-related information, such as contracts, legal notices, insurance policies, purchase and sales agreements, staff memos and other documents. There are a number of file-hosting services that can be used to distribute information to employees via links or e-mail. Among those that can send and host large corporate files are MediaFire, RapidShare, ShareFile and YouSendIt. There are more personal-use services that also may work for general file sharing, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive. All of these services allow download links to be generated from uploaded files, which makes it easy to distribute them to a mailing list or group. Additionally, there are more secure services for business users, e.g., Accellion, CX.com, HybridCloud and OxygenCloud.
Even with multiple technological tools for access and communication, organizations may still lack the ability to communicate effectively if the technology is not used to its full potential. A system needs to be developed and put in place to alert those that need to be “in the know” as transactions happen. Examples are weekly email updates or transaction updates from the legal department or asset management, which need to be forwarded to finance so the correct accounting can occur.
The aim of adopting these tools is to improve internal communications. With improved communications, management groups will improve financial performance, keep investors fully informed, raise employee morale, and ultimately, benefit customers.