Orlando Corporation (Orlando), a leading Canadian real estate developer, relied heavily on manual processes to run its business. Concatenate Inc., a Microsoft partner, developed a Business-Critical SharePoint (BCSP) solution by connecting its line-of-business
(LOB) systems with SharePoint. Orlando now benefits from uncovering previously hidden data, providing access to more users, including mobile access.
Orlando is one of Canada’s largest privately-owned real estate developer and landlord. It owns, leases, and manages over 40 million square feet of industrial, office, and retail property, including eight business parks in the Greater Toronto Area totaling
over 3,000 acres. Orlando offers a vertically-integrated operation, from the purchase of undeveloped land through to planning, servicing, and development, and then to the construction, leasing, and management of properties. Orlando is also an industry leader
in implementing green strategies across its entire business portfolio.
Orlando relied very heavily on Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to manage its business. Although they have a property management accounting software and document management system in place, it was not fully integrated to the rest of its business operations.
Some examples that Orlando was facing included the following:
They didn’t have sufficient tools to appropriately share information among departments (such as a company-wide interface or dashboards).
Critical core data were rekeyed by several departments.
Collaboration among departments was largely a manual process.
Information was not held in a centralized repository.
They used Excel spreadsheets to capture information and for structured database management.
Process around data verification needed to be improved.
Lack of data governance led to minimal documentation of core processes.
Each department used its own internal systems to manage areas of responsibility, such as Excel spreadsheets, Access databases, and email.
As a result of decentralization of critical core data, it was more difficult to leverage that data across teams for decision-making and approvals.
A great deal of paper was generated to provide the necessary reports.
The system did not allow for dissemination of data through mobile devices.
Slow and Manual Business
||Automating critical processes, reducing errors, minimizing manual inputting, and breaking down barriers to collaboration are all part of our strategic vision.
| Blair Wolk, MBA, P.Eng.
The following four manual processes were examples that Orlando was using before the implementation of the BCSP solution.
1. The Lease Summary Form process: Orlando summarized its critical lease information in one form, called the lease control sheet (the “LCS”). The LCS was circulated to various departments and information would be extracted from it into each department’s
own specific system/database. In addition to the possibility of data entry errors, when updates need to be made to the LCS, an update sheet had to be circulated to the appropriate departments. The cumbersome nature of the LCS and updating processes was a motivating
factor for keeping the amount of information in the LCS to the essential minimum.
2. The Business Area Report (BAR) process: The BAR provides the critical data elements that go into calculating Orlando’s inventory of leasable square footage. The BAR report also sets out the area of buildings within Orlando’s portfolio. In large portfolios,
even a small error in this information can result in significant inaccuracies in calculating rental rates. The BAR report was put together manually, along with the data collection required and the dissemination throughout the company.
3. Unit Inventory Manager process: Within its organization, Orlando has a significant amount of data and information related to the actual units available for leasing, including units owned, leased, or being built/developed, units unoccupied but leased,
and units that may become vacant at some time in the future. This data and information was not centralized, however, and that made dissemination and collaboration a challenge.
4. Property Management Information process: Orlando also collects, monitors, and disseminates property management information. Much of this information was held in Excel spreadsheets and Access database and entered manually.
While investigating the integration of its document management platform to SharePoint, Orlando came to realize the power of SharePoint. It was critical that any solutions to address its business challenges had to be implemented without compromising Orlando’s
Orlando decided to proceed with a Business-Critical SharePoint (BCSP) solution, a one-stop SharePoint document management solution, developed by Microsoft Business-Critical SharePoint partner, Concatenate Inc., where SharePoint is connected with existing
Orlando now benefits from automated data sharing between its property management accounting software and SharePoint 2010, using a SQL Server database, consolidated Excel spreadsheets, and Access databases into a real-estate specific taxonomy.
With the Concatenate BCSP solution in place, Orlando was able to accelerate, automate, and streamline the previously mentioned manual processes.
1. LCS process: By connecting the LCS process to SharePoint, the problems surrounding the LCS were largely mitigated. Information included in the LCS is inputted once by the appropriate individual(s) and then made available to each department. Updates are
done at source as well, thereby eliminating the entire manual process. Without the constraints imposed by the former process, Orlando was able to create the LCS it felt would be most beneficial to its needs, without worrying about accuracy, or updates.
2. BAR process: The collection of data, the dissemination, and the creation of the BAR Report itself have largely been automated through SharePoint.
3. Unit Inventory Manager process: Orlando can now generate reports to analyze its portfolio according to whatever category of critical information it so chooses, making it a powerful management and planning tool. Examples of the type of critical information
captured in the Unit Inventory Manager includes the number of units owned, leased, or being built/developed, the units that are unoccupied but leased, and the units that may become vacant at some time in the future.
4. Property Management Information process: By structuring much of this information and making it available to the entire company through SharePoint, many of these shortcomings have been eliminated.
According to Blair Wolk, Vice President of Orlando Corporation, “SharePoint and Concatenate have laid the groundwork for a transformational change in the next few years. We were able to build upon our organizational excellence rather than have to reinvent
the wheel. We’re excited about what the future will bring”.
The connectedness of its property management accounting software and SharePoint has opened up a number of opportunities to automate processes, increase collaboration, and to allow for information to flow among departments with greater efficiency. Users now
have direct access to the information they need, rather than having to request it from other departments.
Collaboration is now possible among departments in areas where silos and non-integrated LOBs once created structural hurdles. Direct access to readily-available information facilitates the decision making and approval processes. The creation of a unified
repository of information has facilitated collaborative efforts among departments and enhanced the ability of users and management to create reports, both ad-hoc and standard.
Surfacing Hidden Data
The automation of the LCS has surfaced a wealth of information previously locked in commercial leases and made it available to the entire company, information that is available in real time, accurate, and trustworthy. The Unit Inventory Manager has also
made critical information readily available. Information in Excel spreadsheets has been made accessible to the entire company as well. Finally, information that used to be only available to the accounting department is now available to the entire organization
(subject to security).
The LCS and the BAR Report, both critical business processes for Orlando, were automated and enhanced by removing constraints on dissemination of information. Time was also saved for employees involved in the process. The process of capturing property-management
information has been automated where possible and centralized in one database. This has made the entire process far easier and simpler, both in terms of entering the data into the system and making that information readily available.
Access to More Users
Now many users do not need to learn other LOBs to access information when it is surfaced in SharePoint’s information hub. The more familiar and easy-to-use SharePoint interface facilitates the use of the system.
Orlando now has mobile access to more of its information. As well, the use of mobile devises can now be considered for integration into processes going forward
Reduction of Errors
As much as reasonably possible, the individuals responsible for creating information are the same individuals that enter the information into the system. This greatly reduces the likelihood of errors, and speeds the entire data entry process, reducing manual
inputting and the duplication of efforts where possible, and strengthening the verification of information process. Orlando believes that this will create more reliable information as the new system moves forward.
The access and alert functions in SharePoint ensured that security was not compromised, and they added an essential layer of management supervision to the new workflows. Today security is more centralized at Orlando.
The solution enhances rather than interferes with Orlando’s existing systems and processes. Rather than rip-and-replace, Orlando was able to build upon its existing areas of expertise and excellence and focus their efforts on specific areas of need. In addition,
Orlando hopes that the changes will allow it to reduce the amount of paper generated since information is now more readily available. As Wolk summarizes, “Our users have more of the information they need to do their jobs; information flows more freely; the
management of our information has been streamlined and is less cumbersome; and it’s only going to get better. So far users are excited about the future.”
(BCSP) is a Microsoft partner program that includes top solution and service providers who focus on advanced SharePoint scenarios.
Disclaimer: This documentation is for informational purposes only and Orlando Corporation makes no representations or warranties (express or implied) with respect to anything contained in this documentation. Furthermore, “Orlando Corporation”
and its logo are registered trademarks and are property of its owner and any use or reproduction of same is prohibited, subject to applicable law.
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