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Project Management, Cost Tracking

Making Better Use of Time, a Limited Resource: Reducing the Administrative Burden

As we usher commercial real estate forward into the digital era, highlighting the cost of administrative time and its corresponding value represents a major opportunity to improve operational efficiencies for owners and their teams. 

Across the US and the world, professionals within commercial real estate are crippled by a cumbersome and unnecessary administrative burden. An opportunity exists to leverage technology to alleviate that challenge, allowing teams to spend more time building asset value.


Time for which We Cannot Bill

A 2017 study of workers globally found that on average, “office workers spend 552 hours a year completing administrative or repetitive tasks; the equivalent to 69 work days or roughly one-third of the working year.” Across the US, a 2018 survey of 500 managers, 36% reported spending 3-4 hours per day administratively, including email and expense-related tasks.  Within commercial real estate, before implementing enterprise-wide technology, project management teams logged 88 hours per project, on average. That’s more than 4% of every team members total hours worked in one year.

Organizations will likely never eradicate administrative tasks, described by some as “the scaffolding of any organization.” However, if it must be part of the process, can it be made less onerous? The good news is that technology can positively impact both the volume of time and related costs by streamlining the necessary and automating the repetitive.

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Not Gone, Better

Whether the project is tenant improvement, related to an acquisition, or extending across multi-year capital plans, some things will never change within commercial real estate practice.  Unless our industry makes the radical decision to completely change the way we do business, there will be RFPs, cost tracking, reporting, and general administrative tasks. What can be improved is our approach to them.

There’s a better way to run operations. There is an opportunity to connect people to the information they need by creating purpose-built technology, resulting in greater transparency and collaboration.

  • Automation makes it possible to reduce errors and prevent tasks from falling through the cracks.  According to one analysis conducted within commercial real estate, automated workflows and cloud-based project management returned the equivalent of one additional week per month to teams.
  • Creating templates and workflows allows teams to capture best practices and turn them into sustainable practices, saving time and encouraging consistency. More than just time reclaimed, standardization reduces ambiguity, ensures consistent quality of output, and may boost productivity.
  • Technology as a resource improves internal communications and access to information. As opposed to binders and analog information management, technology allows information to be easily accessible to anyone with a need for it. It provides for regular, system-generated status reporting and the ability to track processes, like invoice and cost tracking as things occur.

Want to see how one customer bought BACK "months of time” through automation?

How Could Automation Reduce Your Administrative Burden?

How much time is spent on emails, phone calls, and requests for information? Data collection, updates, tracking, processing approvals and providing updates could all be automated, minimizing time, effort and energy lost to cobbling together a complete snapshot of projects from varying sources.

We have the capacity and the resources to conduct business more effectively, no longer relying solely upon available information instead of all we have learned and collected. Using technology as a framework, teams gain access to their own insights, enabling them to make decisions based upon the right information at the right time.

Teams on common platforms gain improved visibility into costs and timelines, driving more accurate assumptions. Technology is scalable, meaning even as the scope and volume of project increases, standardization drives cost-effectiveness across the organization.

Having conducted our own research, we learned that teams leveraging technology to attack their administrative burden found themselves able to reallocate time to higher impact tasks and projects, boosting overall productivity by as much as 40%.

"Time isn’t always seen as a strategic resource, organizations should invest more in measuring and analyzing processes in order to allocate human and time resources on high-value activities." – Roberto Bugatti



Rochelle A. Carter-Wilson

Written by Rochelle A. Carter-Wilson

Rochelle is the Content Marketing Manager for Honest Buildings. She creates stories and other on-brand content to inform and engage owners and other members of the Commercial Real Estate industry.

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