Industry-Real Estate

Real Estate Industry

 

Our real estate clients include 50-person shops up to publicly traded companies with global portfolios.  We have worked across the lifecycle from investment analysis to asset conversion.  Data analytics has always been an important part of our work.  We generally serve clients in major markets but have experience in emerging markets.  Our work overlaps the energy space in Smart Cities and energy efficiency

Real Estate Investment – IT Transformation

The client makes debt and equity investments in real estate in New York State.  The company provides construction financing, mortgage lending and equity capital.  Since 1974 it has invested $10.5 billion, creating housing for 965,000 people.  Actionable Strategies was referred to transform the IT organization.  IT services were not meeting the needs of end users, costs were increasing while service levels were falling, and turnover was rising. 

After presenting a heatmap of the major issues, we formulated a strategic plan which we then helped execute.  The client successfully completed the transformation and addressed the key gaps: Strategic Alignment, Human Capital, Governance, Analytics and Budget.

Client Profile

The client makes debt and equity investments in real estate in New York State.  The company provides construction financing, mortgage lending and equity capital.  Since 1974 it has invested $10.5 billion, creating housing for 965,000 people.

Business Challenge

After summarily dismissing the head of IT, the company was referred to Actionable Strategies to assess the situation and take action.  IT services were not meeting the needs of end users, costs were increasing while service levels were falling, and IT turnover was rising.  There were a series of critical infrastructure failures and numerous areas of technology risk, but there were no concrete plans to enact needed changes.  The CEO demanded a resolution.

Solution Approach

Senior consultants immediately took charge of the department, and provided interim CIO and day-to-day management services.  Actionable Strategies assessed the situation and developed near-term plans and a strategic technology plan.

Benchmarking budgets across a number of dimensions identified that the client was increasing budgets but in the wrong areas.  Service providers were charging more while outages were increasing.  Software costs were bloated as the client attempted to extend an antiquated system rather than building out new capabilities and loading in legacy data.

By describing the problem in business terms, Actionable Strategies was given the mandate for immediate action which established the foundation for the IT Strategic Plan.

Strategic Plan

Entering the next year, the client began executing on the IT Strategic Plan which included:

    • Human Capital: Actionable Strategies drove selection of a new CIO and IT management team
    • Alignment: The IT Strategic Plan mapped to business strategy including growth of locations across the state
    • Governance: Strong management, supervision and reporting over vendors and internal IT
    • Analytics: Modern analytical technologies were delivered faster and less expensively
    • Budget: Reallocation of budgets increased service levels and reliability while delivering new capabilities

Data Warehouse and Data Analytics 

The client is a global real estate services company that operates a portfolio of properties and development projects.  It is fully-integrated, developing and managing premier assets focused on the tenant experience. 

The company has $202B in assets and 19,000 employees managing over 600 properties. 30 more projects, comprising 40M square feet, are under development.  The portfolio contains 450M square feet of commercial properties, over 17,000 apartments and 170 retail destinations.

Actionable Strategies was engaged to manage a program to deliver a data warehouse, business intelligence and data governance while improving PMO capabilities.

Client Profile                        

The client is a global real estate services company that operates a portfolio of properties and development projects.  It is fully-integrated, developing and managing premier assets focused on the tenant experience. 

The company has $202B in assets and 19,000 employees managing over 600 properties. 30 more projects, comprising 40M square feet, are under development.  The portfolio contains 450M square feet of commercial properties, over 17,000 apartments and 170 retail destinations.

Services include:

    • Business & Capital Planning
    • Property Management
    • Leasing
    • Marketing
    • Development
    • Design & Construction
    • Arts & Events

Business Objective

Executive leadership did not have a clear picture of the company across global regions.  The CIO engaged Actionable Strategies for our expertise in real estate, program management, data warehousing and data analytics.  The objective was to drive a program to deliver a data warehouse and initial business intelligence functionality.

Stated Constraints

The CIO had a firm grasp of the constraints that would be faced. 

    • Business re-prioritization and evolving international initiatives required agility
    • Close coordination with a maturing PMO was required including guidance in best practices
    • Deliverables and interim work products were being scrutinized by senior executives requiring polished and succinct reports that summarized the detail provided by the project teams
    • Managing the implementation vendor was a high visibility item due to past issues experienced by the client
    • Internal capacity was already overcommitted requiring Actionable Strategies managers to “roll up their sleeves” with data and business intelligence work
    • This was the first end-to-end initiative for the IT Director responsible for the program

Solution Approach

Managing the program required that we identify work streams not part of technical implementation.  While the client considered some of the additional effort, there were a number of critical sub-projects that were critical to success.

Data Governance

Data Governance was essential to immediate and future success.  The implementation vendor was responsible for creating a data dictionary and logical data design.  A reasonable target of one year was negotiated.  However, the numerous legacy systems with known data quality issues necessitated creating a separate data governance project.

Composite Data

Data analytics was viewed as a strategic program with enduring value.  The long term model included data beyond the operational realm.  This included a number of domains outside of the scope of the initial data warehouse. 

This required planning for an extended data model, ingestion of data and ongoing data quality management managed by defined data governance.  Additional data sources included:

  • Corporate data required for more strategic reporting
  • Occupants’ demographic and other master data overlays
  • External financial data about tenants and their parent organizations
  • Lease information not previously captured in structured data models
  • Metrics related to tenants, leases, properties and geographies

Data Quality Management

While individual departments understood that there was dirty data in their reporting, an overall plan needed to be enacted to ensure that strategic reporting would be accurate on a consistent basis.  Data quality management was initiated as a longer term initiative.  After initial data cleansing, an ongoing operational effort was defined to ensure that strategic reporting remained effective.

Legacy Application Portfolio

The business was being served by a number of legacy applications that were purpose built.  As these applications aged, maintenance costs increased as the technologies became more difficult to integrate into a modern IT architecture.  The program drove difficult decision making around application migration and the necessary integration requirements at the application and data warehouse levels.

PMO Enhancement

Applying our expertise in building and maturing project management offices, we applied a number of improvements to the fledgling PMO. 

    • Standardized terminology and reporting such as red/amber/green status
    • Templates for summary and detailed reporting
    • Portfolio rollup across related projects
    • Enterprise PMO reporting including resource constraints and inter-project risks

Future State

Business Intelligence was expected to play a much larger role at the client.  It was anticipated that BI would be used across all of the operating companies once the data and tools were available.  In addition, front-line users and individual contributors were expected to use BI once the needs of executives were met. 

These future needs necessitated a longer term view of data models and tool selection.  For example, multi-currency reporting and slowly changing dimensions had to be considered.

Business Results

Results were realized by executives, business areas, IT and data owners.

Analytics Capabilities

Actionable Strategies successfully drove the program forward and managed the individual projects and vendors.  The client was able to use their major deliverable of a “Comprehensive Enterprise BI Platform” to address immediate needs:

    • Identify portfolio risks
    • Meet publicly stated guidance
    • Provide single source of enterprise information for analytical distribution

Operational Efficiency

One objective stated in the Project Charter was to “Improve Operational Efficiency through system integration and best practices”.  These goals were realized through processes and a solid technology foundation.

    • Enterprise level data governance
    • Standard business definitions for data
    • Resilient architecture

Enterprise Adoption of BI

The client was positioned to rapidly broaden the use of BI which it continued to do successfully.  In addition, retirement of inefficient legacy applications was readily supported.  Applications were replaced with more suitable solutions using modern technology.  Integration of data was simple due to the enterprise data modeling that was performed. 

The successful program yielded ongoing benefits which accelerated as adoption grew upon the stable foundation that included proactive data quality management.

Real Estate and Energy – IT Strategy

The client provides financing for green real estate projects.  Investments are made in both new development as well as retrofitting projects that reduce energy costs and carbon footprints. Projects include energy efficiency, co-generation, renewables, fuel conversions and demand response.

The business outsourced IT but did not believe it was being well-managed.  The value received vs. the rate of spend was questioned by senior leadership.   Actionable Strategies was recommended by another real estate client as an unbiased expert in evaluating IT Strategy and providing actionable recommendations. 

Actionable Strategies delivered an IT Strategy that aligned to business strategy and the specific needs of leaders and stakeholders.  The project was highly successful and Actionable Strategies was retained to select vendors and drive implementation of the strategy.  

Client Profile

The client provides funding for green real estate projects.  Investments are made in both new development as well as retrofitting projects that reduce energy costs and carbon footprints.  Projects include energy efficiency, cogeneration, renewables, fuel conversions and demand response.  The firm invests in projects across all building types in the boroughs of New York City. 

Business Challenge

The business outsourced the IT function but did not believe it was being well-managed.  The value received compared to the rate of spend was also questioned by senior leadership.  Actionable Strategies was recommended by another client as an unbiased expert in evaluating IT Strategy and providing actionable recommendations. 

Solution Approach

Actionable Strategies applied the following basic methodology used successfully with many clients.

This client retained sensitive financial data making IT risk management a key consideration.  Software development was not a factor since the firm only used packaged applications managed by external vendors.  Analysis focused on unmet needs and unfulfilled requirements of the business. Previously, technical considerations drove decision making.

Strategic Considerations

Strategic planning activities covered the management spectrum:

  • Alignment: Ensuring that the IT Strategic Plan mapped directly to business strategy through direct input from stakeholders
  • Governance: Management, supervision and reporting processes required to manage IT
  • Finance: Budgetary benchmarking, forecasting, and cost control measures
  • Operations: Establishing and maintaining levels of service to the business

Notable Results

Actionable Strategies delivered an IT Strategy that aligned to business strategy and the specific needs of leaders and stakeholders. 

The client subsequently engaged Actionable Strategies to select vendors and drive implementation of the strategy.  Key results, verified over the following years, included:

  • Management – Improvement in IT management was introduced including direct stakeholder engagement, planning and budgeting against the IT Strategic Plan and Roadmap
  • Capabilities – In addition to an improvement in basic IT services, data analytics became a defined and funded initiative.
  • Efficiency – Process improvement and a restructured service delivery model dramatically increased service levels, including 24×7 support, while costs remained comparable to other benchmarked organizations
  • Mobile Computing – Users gained the ability to remain productive outside of the office where many key contributors worked, resulting in significant gains for the business
  • Customer Satisfaction – End users received dramatically better service and the number of issues dropped significantly

Data Analytics Program

Click here for the case study about a $1.1B publicly traded REIT that acquires, manages, expands, and develops office and laboratory space properties.  Data analytics were required by all of the stakeholders, particularly investment, construction, finance and accounting, and senior executives.

After successfully delivering a data warehouse and Essbase analytics project, we continued to deliver against the data analytics roadmap that we defined.  Applying Agile techniques from program management through to product development, yielded business results in 6 months.  The roadmap continued to deliver further analytical capabilities with a predictable cadence.

Data Quality Management 

Click here for the case study about this global real estate firm that invests in best-in-class campuses for science and technology in the most desirable urban locations.  Their total market capitalization is $11.1 billion and they operate an asset base of over 25 million square feet with 6 million square feet of new development in the pipeline.

As executive and front-line leadership grew more sophisticated in the needs for analytics, data quality issues arose as more advanced visualizations increased the consumption of data cross the organization.  Quality issued had been previously masked as data tended to remain in operational silos such as ERP, with summarized information used for decision-making. 

IT Services Transformation 

Click here for the case study about a real estate development and management firm operating in major urban markets.  Operations are decentralized while IT is centralized.  As the company grew, the issues caused degradation of service over time.  The work environment for IT became correspondingly more stressful and less rewarding.  Turnover was high and positions could not be filled quickly enough.  

To address this two-fold problem, we transformed IT Service Delivery.  Our analysis started with the internal customer base, which had diverse needs and capabilities.  This was consolidated into a plan that addressed the overall needs.