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 ([email protected]) is editorial director at Buildings magazine.