BUILDINGS - Smarter Facilities Management



Perspectives on management software


“What we’ve tried to do is really digitize very routine tasks or requirements of
the tenants – work orders, PMs, or after-hours air-conditioning.”

Jana Turner, President
CB Richard Ellis’ Asset Services Division


Web Portals Open New Doors

Using the speed and efficiency of Internet technology, owners of today’s largest real estate assets are discovering new ways to market and manage their investments.

Los Angeles-headquartered CB Richard Ellis – with management responsibilities across more than 822 million square feet in primarily office, retail, and industrial buildings – now offers a custom-designed portal to showcase each of its property assets, with specific information targeted to prospective tenants and the public. Electronic speed and efficiency support all related marketing tools, services, amenities, and information in a Web-based platform created to be both attractive and efficient.

“[The Axis] offering is unique in our industry and creates a new way of doing business,” says Jana Turner, president of CB Richard Ellis’ Asset Services Division. “We’re providing a platform that literally evolves with the asset and supports a wide range of services. This goes beyond a basic webpage in terms of virtual functionality; in fact, it can be a great tool for maintaining business continuity in case of an emergency or catastrophic event, because the building can be operated with secure access from any computer-enabled location.”

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At Los Angeles-headquartered CB Richard Ellis, market intelligence, critical analytical thinking, technology, and resources meld superbly with the organization’s simple guidelines: put clients first; enable clients to make the most informed real estate decisions; tailor products and services for each client’s needs; be creative; and deliver top results. When it comes to finding new ways to benefit clients – with speed and efficiency – CB Richard Ellis can be sure to lead the way.

In a recent telephone interview, Buildings asked Jana Turner, president of CB Richard Ellis’ Asset Services Division and one of the company’s champions of its Web-based Axis portal system (see Web Portals Open New Doors, below), to offer her perspective and general recommendations on implementing management software, specifically with respect to work order and preventive maintenance (PM). Her comments follow:

“Many different software packages are applicable to different functionalities: work order, preventive maintenance, managing projects, accounting, etc. In terms of the work order and PMs, we went to the lowest common denominator when we selected our software. It was really important to us that it be user-friendly and offer ease of implementation. Why? Because we have myriad people who must be able to use it – from a receptionist to a building manager to a chief engineer,” says Turner.

“In addition to this and its fundamental functionality, a key consideration is that the system should have a robust reporting hierarchy that enables the repository of information to be converted into [disparate] reports with meaning to an owner, a manager, or a chief engineer. We couldn’t be content with a system that merely allowed tenants to submit work orders online; it also had to be easy for tenants to report and easy for us to respond, track, and pull important data.

“The final issue was cost. Due to the shorter hold periods on today’s buildings, our owner-clients do not want to spend a tremendous amount of money in this area, because in the long run, they won’t get the ultimate return on their investment.”

Turner acknowledges that although CB Richard Ellis pushes the technology envelope, some clients have been skittish about taking the leap. Trial installations usually turn these skeptics into believers, and recent interest has grown by leaps and bounds as opportunities become better understood.

Do such tools create a less personal environment between property managers and an owner-client? “We think it’s a balancing act,” says Turner. “It’s always important to maintain in-person interaction. What we’ve tried to do is really digitize very routine tasks or requirements of the tenants – work orders, PMs, or after-hours air-conditioning. By making those tasks more automatic, we’ve enabled our management staff to spend more time calling on tenants rather than sitting in offices doing paperwork and taking phone calls. These systems are also available to tenants 24/7 and can work well in the smaller facilities that don’t have on-site management.”

Linda K. Monroe ( is editorial director at Buildings magazine.


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