How to Use Data to Manage your Properties

Jeremiah Gall
Jeremiah Gall

May 17, 2018

Data is king, and in recent years, has become a valuable tool for businesses. Many have heard the buzzwords “big data”, but what does it look like and what can businesses do with it? More importantly, how can your property management company use intelligent and purposeful data sets to optimize property operations?

Understanding your Business Metrics

The first step towards collecting data is understanding your company’s business model. What are the processes involved with your day-to-day operations and how are these processes quantified? Some measurements are simple to monitor, like travel time for your maintenance techs, processing time for your in-house laundry, or cleaning time for your cleaners. Some are more complex to track, like the number of field staff currently at a property. Whatever the metric, it’s important to define your key-performance-indicators (KPIs) before putting your data to use.

Collecting and Organizing your Data

Then comes the difficult part - collecting and organizing your data. Traditionally it’s been the employee’s responsibility to record maintenance or cleaning information, but with the advancement of technology, recording this data has become more automated. GPS data and back-end property software have made it easy to log the time it takes to complete specific tasks. This data can be exported into .csv files or integrated with scheduling software.

Analyzing and Acting on your Data

Now it’s time to uncover bottlenecks in your company's processes. Taking a deep dive into the numbers might unveil that your inspectors are spending too much time waiting for cleaners, or that maintenance technicians are spending most of their days driving from one property to another. This is where intelligent scheduling comes into play. Smartly grouping your properties and scheduling your field workers based on location and time can significantly reduce travel costs between work orders.

All of this is just a fun Excel exercise if you don’t take the next step and use the data to make adjustments that improve the business. Start by looking back at the KPIs that are most important to your operations and identifying the events and data points that build up to drive those KPIs. Look for trends or anomalies and track back to the root cause. Is there a process improvement that moves the needle or a staffing adjustment that unlocks efficiency? Don’t be afraid to make incremental changes and remember to avoid “analysis paralysis.”  Build repeatable processes, track the output, act on the resulting data to optimize your operations and then check the data again to gauge improvements.