Much of the value we promise to deliver with our products and services revolves around the concept of helping our clients become “more efficient.” It’s a phrase we use liberally, but what does it mean and where is the real benefit to any organization?

Property or facility managers and their staffs need to manage and complete a large set of common, repeatable tasks on a recurring basis.  These include such things as lease related notifications, generating tenant statements, responding to and managing requests for service, scheduled maintenance, risk management processes such as tracking certificate of insurance compliance, and a host of others. These tasks are fundamental to the operation of any property, representing the blood supply for  successful operations.

The challenge for property operations professionals and their teams is finding a way to keep up with this large volume of required, repeatable tasks while reacting to the host of unforeseen occurrences that invariably pop up on a daily basis.

I recently returned from the BOMA annual conference in Long Beach and had the opportunity again to observe and listen to the things our clients deal with. Although they were away from their properties, they were constantly tied to their Blackberries and dealing with a never ending stream of unforeseen and unplanned-for events:  cut telephone lines, power outages, bad weather, crime, accidents, etc…the list goes on.  The image of the property manager as a fire fighter is one that truly fits.   But like a fireman, these are the issues that require training, experience, knowledge and skill.  They are the daily occurrences that require people, not systems and is where the effective manager and team shine.

The problems that arise out of these realities of operating and managing a building and those inevitable unforeseen events are that they constrict the time and energy available for the mundane, repeatable tasks.  These things that are necessary for a healthy property are often pushed aside, delayed for another day, and handled incompletely or inaccurately.  In addition to the fact that these tasks generally represent less than fulfilling work for any employee, the inconsistent completion and management of them is unhealthy for any organization.

The way to approach this reality is to ruthlessly automate the mundane.  Cut a 12 step process to 6.  Look at every set of rote activities you can that don’t require real thinking and use a technology solution to streamline them where possible.

Finding solutions to help you do this is the easy part. Finding the right provider to help you understand where you can make improvements is bit harder. The hardest part of all is understanding where your value and your team’s value truly lies, and making the decisions and commitment that will allow you to spend more of your time doing that. That is what efficiency is all about.