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Real Estate Technology

Building a Best-In-Class Real Estate Technology Stack

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A 'technology stack' is essentially the group of applications that a company uses to manage a variety of business functions. In commercial real estate (CRE), the tech stack has evolved considerably as owners, managers, lenders and brokers increasingly adopt platforms that facilitate leasing, accounting, project management, legal and reporting.

As CRE technology matures, applications that augment and complement each other vastly improve the overall experience for the end user—saving time and money during implementation, minimizing process disruption and eliminating task redundancies.  

The Tech Stack vs. the All-In-One Solution

Your first thought might be: why would we assemble a tech stack rather than use a platform that does it all?

It’s a nice thought—the idea of a single solution that meets your end-to-end business needs. The reality of course, is that integrating cross-functional platforms is difficult, resource-heavy and time consuming. Whether working with a vendor or building in-house, companies often find themselves riddled with scope creep, driving implementation costs through the roof as the project drags on.

A tech stack, on the other hand, is assembled—start with one business function, test a champion solution in that space and repeat. Each platform you add to your stack is created by the best and brightest development teams in the industry who work around the clock with end users to build, test and modify niche functionalities to perfection. Imagine a sports team of franchise players, and they play better together.

The end result is powerful performance across all sectors of your business that can be implemented and modified efficiently, without the need to make sacrifices in functionality or user experience. You can have your cake and eat it too. As you assemble a real estate technology stack for your organization, take a look at these best-in-class platforms.

LEASING

VTS is a leader in the leasing and asset management category. In the past year, the company merged with Hightower, raised $55 million in series C funding, and as of Q4 2016, has 15 out of 20 of the top global investment managers on its platform.

Solution: Provides real-time management of deals and properties, with access to a range of listing, leasing and tenant information as well as analysis of the data that helps identify trends.

Integration: Integrates with accounting and property management systems like Yardi, MRI and Qube as well as budgeting systems like Argus, Cougar and Realogic. Their proprietary VTS Connect syncs nightly with other platforms and allows you to import (and export) deals, leases, rent schedules, in-place rents, budgets, encumbrances and leasing assumptions.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND PROCUREMENT

Honest Buildings is the only project management platform built for owners and operators to ensure capital and construction projects are on time and on budget. Industry leaders like Brookfield, Invesco, Beacon Capital Partners, SL Green, Related Companies, Parkway and JBG Smith use Honest Buildings to aggregate project data, increase transparency, automate bid management and standardize reporting.

Solution: The data-driven platform streamlines project management processes by centralizing workflows around bidding, approvals, invoicing and change orders. Historical data comparison tools, customized reporting and team collaboration tools provide on-demand snapshots of portfolio-wide performance and enable more accurate capital planning and budget forecasting.

Integration: Honest Buildings integrates with accounting platforms like Yardi and MRI, and accounts payable tools like Avid and Nexus. Honest Buildings is an open system with a public API that is available upon request so other systems can build code to push and pull information.

LEGAL

SiteCompli navigates the rocky terrain of site compliance, regulations and ordinances.

The company monitors over 60,000 buildings in New York City, and has a long list of clients ranging from owners and managers, large public REITS and local nonprofits. Notable clients include CBRE, GGP, Cushman & Wakefield and Tishman Speyer.

Solution: SiteCompli provides a customizable web-based platform to aggregate, monitor and analyze site-specific data such as fines, inspections, permits and complaints in real-time. Automation tools include email alerts, a work order system and recurring property reports to stay abreast of violations before they become problems.

Integration:Compliance calendar syncs with Outlook, iCal and Gmail. The platform also allows vendors and consultants to join the SiteCompli workflow. It can also integrate with law firms and send email alerts when violations occur.

Legal Tracker, formerly Serengeti Law, is an online platform that features matter management, e-billing and reporting functionality. Thomson Reuters acquired Serengeti Law in 2011 and today, the web-based software is used by more than 1000 corporate law departments in 192 countries.

Solution: Customizable and scalable system allows both in-house and outside counsel to organize and track documents, billings, overages, exposures, rates and outside counsel expenditures to identify, assess and prevent problems before they occur.

Integration: Tracker integrates with Microsoft Office apps, accounts payable, ERP systems, law firm billing and more. Legal Tracker also provides training and custom integration for IP systems, content management systems, claims systems, incident reporting systems, and legal hold systems.

MARKETING

SharpLaunch, an all-in-one digital platform that offers marketing tools to owners and managers of commercial property—recently partnered with RealMassive—a CRE marketplace that collects, shares, and analyzes data sets. Clients include CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield and Lincoln Harris.

Solution: Full-service branded websites optimized for commercial real estate portfolios. Tools include interactive maps, a document portal, email marketing, lead management and marketing analytics. Their recent partnership with RealMassive improves data sharing capabilities and expands property exposure for their clients.

Integration: The SharpLaunch API can connect to your website to present listings or your existing lead management system to enable email marketing.   

ACCOUNTING

Yardi is a cloud-based asset and accounting solution built for all types and sizes of real estate companies. Established in 1984, it serves clients worldwide from offices in Australia, Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America.

Solution: Yardi uses the Voyager and Genesis2 platforms, each offering one of the most comprehensive set of management and accounting tools. You can add products from the Yardi Commercial Suite to help with payment processing, procurement, budgeting and forecasting.

Integration: Yardi is an open system that can exchange information between Yardi Voyager and third-party applications. The Yardi Standard Interface Partnership Program (SIPP) offers residential and commercial APIs to allow other vendors to create and maintain standard Voyager interfaces for their products. Current members of SIPP include Honest Buildings, VTS, Nexus Systems, InfoTycoon, ClickNotices, and more.

MRI is a real estate property and investment management solution with an open and connected ecosystem of software applications. Founded in 1971, MRI is a global company with offices around the world and strong partnerships with industry leaders through their Partner Connect Program.

Solution: The MRI Financial Suite is a scalable and flexible accounting platform with general ledger and accounts payable modules that can adapt to your existing business process. Other features and tools allow for direct billing, budgeting & forecasting, invoice tracking, and financial reporting.

Integration: The MRI Information Exchange (MIX) is a community to help you find custom solutions that fit your business. With over 1000 unique APIs built by MRI and their partners, information can be exchanged between MRI and third-party applications. MRI also provides a toolkit to build your own API for in-house proprietary systems.

CONTRACT MANAGEMENT

Docusign is a leader in digital transaction management. It’s used by millions worldwide for secure and efficient document sharing and electronic signature. It’s used and trusted by major companies like Yahoo, Expedia and Comcast to close deals more quickly, with fewer fees and less friction.

Solution: Docusign embeds electronic signatures and payment requests into existing websites, portals and applications. APIs allow secure and custom integration into business workflows.

Integration: The Docusign Integration Framework use APIs REST and SOAP to integrate with custom business processes including document and data preparation, templates and workflow, authentication, signing, sending and user & service administration. 

DEVELOPMENT

Procore is a cloud-based application for construction firms and general contractors to manage risk and build equity projects safely, on time and within budget. Founded in 2002, Procure has raised over $178 million in series G funding. Customers include HITT Contracting, L.F. Jennings, Turner Construction Company, and Wells Construction.

Solution: Mobile-focused interface connects field and office teams by allowing real-time information sharing and gathering. Contractors can upload and edit site photos, update a daily log, track inspections and observations, create punch lists and respond to RFIs.

Integration: In 2016, Procure launched the App Marketplace and Partner Program, an online hub for third-party integrations and custom applications. The current ecosystem is robust, with many leading software providers choosing to connect with Procure Connect, the company’s open API.

What’s in Your Technology Stack?

A well-integrated technology stack helps streamline routine management tasks and also greatly increases the ability to use information to improve planning. What tools do you have in your stack? Tell us in the comments.

 

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Pauline Nee

Written by Pauline Nee

Pauline is the head of content for Honest Buildings. For over twelve years in the commercial real estate industry, she has held diverse roles focused on product development, digital marketing, user research, web design and arts programming.