The operational risks to a commercial property are many – at every turn is an opportunity for a slip-and-fall, a hazardous material leak, an uninsured vendor, or… worse. To compound that, the expectations and legal requirements that property teams are not only required to do, but also need to do, to prepare for emergencies and protect themselves from liability are high.
We recently surveyed current clients and industry professionals about their risk management practices and 96% of respondents indicated they plan to implement new processes or tools to help manage operational risk in the coming year – with Building Incidents at the top of the list.
Web-based and mobile Property Management Systems are the easiest way to address risk concerns because they include tools for managing contracts, Certificates of Insurance, emergency and broadcast messaging, fire & life safety documentation, inspections, and incident tracking. They are reinventing the way Property Teams have traditionally handled the multitude of Risk Management tasks in three primary ways:
- Mobile Access
- A Centralized System of Record
- Automation and Efficiency
Let’s talk a little more about each of the primary web and mobile tools available to property teams today:
1. Certificates of Insurance
60% of owners and managers now utilize some form of automated property management software to manage Certificates of Insurance (COIs). How do you manage your COI tracking – through an online tool, via spreadsheets, or worse, manually via print-outs and binders?
The primary benefit of a web and mobile Certificate of Insurance manager is that it moves all your COIs into a single, online database and automates the entire process through proactive alerts and expiration notifications. This provides you and your team with real-time visibility into the COI status of every tenant and vendor on your property, ultimately reducing incurred losses and insurance premiums.
The most common ways technology is helping to safeguard the COI process:
- Automated alerts and notifications when COIs are coming up for renewal and/or expired
- Ensuring vendors have a minimum carrier AM Best (or other financial viability) rating for COI compliance
- Making vendor access to the building contingent upon a valid COI (and the related alerts to management)
- Ensuring vendor payments are contingent upon an active or valid COI
2. Emergency & Broadcast Messaging
The most efficient operations teams are able to communicate with tenants, vendors and staff instantly, from any location. In an emergency situation, or just as a daily communications tool, mobile broadcast messaging enables you to quickly and easily create, send and save important communications for all your key contacts.
The most common ways technology is helping to improve building communications:
- Create custom contact groups for tenants, employees and vendors so you can reach who you need to almost instantly
- Pre-save emergency broadcast templates and contact lists to reduce communication time during an emergency
- Track communication histories and real-time data from any computer
- Post instant messages to your property website or tenant portal
3. Fire & Life Safety Documentation
Your Fire & Life Safety System serves as a vital part of a commercial real estate building’s readiness plan. Code, training and equipment are all integral to ensuring that the system will function properly when a crisis occurs. The benefits of technology in this area are similar to some of the items discussed above: a central location for all documentation, peace of mind that that all building constituents have access to only the most recent versions of emergency plans and docs, and of course, mobile access.
4. Mobile Inspections
Mobile inspections allow your team to create and complete inspections from any mobile device, so that you can work faster and quickly address problems including initiating work orders from the field based on failed inspection points.
5. Incident Tracking
“One of the things that we are frequently amazed at is when we compare companies who do have good risk management practices to companies who don’t, the loss histories between the two are dramatic, and that loss history relates to expenses far beyond just that loss. “ – Kathleen Nickerson, Risk Management Consultant
While 75% of property owners and managers track detailed incident data, only 35% have that data easily available for sharing!
Mobile incident tracking bridges that gap- allowing you to respond swiftly, capture important responder and event details, maintain accurate historical records and generate reports for risk assessment and liability protection….from anywhere that an incident might occur. In the event of a loss, you can use this documentation to prove your building was regularly inspected and/or proper procedures were followed.
Common Ways technology is helping to reduce loss related to incidents:
• Allows you to take and attach incident-related photos and videos instantly
• Ability to send incident-related messages to pre-defined groups as soon as an incident occurs
• Incident data is stored in a central location and can easily be pulled in the event of a liability suit
The Most important thing you can do is capture, track and automate building data through a central, online database. In the event of a liability suit, you may be asked to quickly pull in house inspection notes, incident reports, related documents, and records of responsiveness to the event. If this information is coming from disparate systems and/or a paper trail, it’s very easy to lose important information that could have reduced your organization’s liability.
Preparation and access to documentation months or years old is often the difference between no basis for a suit and a financial loss.