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Capital Planning, Real Estate Technology, Market Intelligence

The Best and Brightest of CRE: A Roundtable on Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence is the capacity to execute business strategy with greater consistency than your competitors and is measured empirically, by results. Within the commercial real estate industry,  operational excellence is created broadly across organizations; for our purposes, consider the contributions of asset management, portfolio management, operations, and members of the C-suite.

Imagine

...inviting all those people to sit together and discuss operational excellence as it relates to capital planning.  At Honest Buildings, not only did we imagined it, we made it happen.

We began by envisioning a world where capital planning is collaborative, dynamic, and responsive. We all know capital plans as the tool ensuring that commercial real estate owners are focusing on cash flow, optimizing investor returns, and have sufficient visibility to enhance the value of their portfolios. Too often, the people building them, those subject to them, or those accountable for their success are not equally engaged in building them.  

Introducing the first ever Honest Buildings Roundtable

I’m Geoff Lewis, Chief Product Officer for Honest Buildings. I confess to being passionate about working alongside the smartest people I can find to solve the hardest challenges in commercial real estate.  I was fortunate to lead a roundtable event last week where asset management, acquisitions, operations, and executive decision-makers, collectively, the people driving commercial real estate forward, talked capital planning best practices, aligning the needs goals and outcomes of acquisition and asset management teams, and leveraging technology to do it well.  

In the current market, real portfolio value no longer depends solely on buying and selling the right assets at the right time.

Developing capital plans for those assets, and executing on them effectively throughout their lifecycle is the new competitive advantage.

Industry-wide, decision-makers have been operating in silos, often competing with one another. It became clear from this roundtable discussion that sharing ideas, challenges, and success stories is the path forward, the methodology for achieving Operational Excellence.

Here’s a recap.

Capital Planning Best Practices

We opened our discussion by listing our best practices, either what participants currently have in place, or the things to which they aspire.

No matter the preference or experience relative to the “right” term for a capital plan, the consensus was that the 1st and 2nd years are most accurate, Why? Because projections in the first two years are closest to real time. Can you imagine having the capacity to update and evolve the entire capital plan in real-time, making it responsive to changes that occur in schedules, budgets, or priorities?

The greatest identified challenges to effective capital planning were a lack of transparency, visibility, along with insufficient flexibility. When the team acquiring the asset does not collaborate with the team that will manage it, there is no clearly articulated way for them to understand the intended plan in detail. This missed opportunity in the beginning, sets the stage for disconnects and misalignment that may follow the asset throughout its lifecycle.

Aligning Acquisitions with Asset Management

If teams aren’t communicating effectively, how might that be improved? Some teams shared that asset managers are often a resource in the acquisition process, though this is not standard. Participants agreed that at the very least, communication between groups is essential.

So often, organizations, particularly smaller groups, use third-party data pre-acquisition. Imagine having the capacity to utilize your own asset and portfolio historical data to form recommendations for your acquisitions team.  

Finally, more than just having data, teams should value human resources, meaning the perspectives and experiences of team members. As one participant put it, “data only goes so far.”

Incorporating Technology into Asset Strategy

We’re a tech company. We could spend all of our time discussing the value of technology as a resource to leverage opportunities for growth, efficiency, and to maximize opportunities to grow asset value. Roundtable participants highlighted their key technology value-adds in this way:


  • First, technology must be widely adopted as a necessary component of the organization’s success. If platforms are not uniformly adopted, they stand less chance of being successful over the long term.
  • Some participants lamented the lack of common platforms. In some organizations, multiple platforms exist performing similar or the same functions for different groups, and very seldom are they integrated.
  • Some envisioned various teams having access to the same information, e.g., financial data that one group uses daily but that might have tremendous value for another group for monthly, quarterly, or annual planning purposes. Two solutions were proposed, either single vendors providing a one-size-fits-all solution with some adaptability or the integration of best of breed platforms.

What’s Next?

We were fortunate to have a talented graphic illustrator create a thought map of our discussion, which we’re sharing here:

Honest Buildings_Nikki Kurt_10318 (1)

At the conclusion of the event, participants gathered in small groups to continue the dialogue. Clearly, optimizing the capital planning process is an area with growth opportunity, and Honest Buildings is dedicated to keeping our customers on the forefront.

Last week, we announced the full market release of version 2.0 of the Portfolio Capital Planning Platform. This new offering allows collaboration in the creation and tracking of capital plans in real time. By way of our Live Reforecast utility, all the right decision makers can access and leverage real-time and historical insights, produce budget and schedule modeling and, more importantly,  make appropriate adjustments based upon current data and inputs. We know this doesn’t solve every challenge discussed at our Roundtable event, but we do believe it moves our clients one step closer to Operational Excellence.

Want to know more?

Join us for a webinar where we’ll talk more about this new product, provide a brief demonstration, answer questions, and provide additional information.

SAVE MY SEAT

Finally, participants told us they appreciated the opportunity to sit with like-minded professionals in similar and/or compatible functions to brainstorm, share strategies, and learn best practices.

Stay tuned, as we’ll be hosting more of these forums in the future.

Geoff Lewis

Written by Geoff Lewis

As Chief Product Officer, Geoff is an advocate for the needs of customers. He ensures that the Honest Buildings product is intuitive, intelligent and delivers strategic value for commercial real estate leaders.