Property Management & Investments


Property Management & Investments
Managing Multi Property Portfolios

Managing multi-faceted property portfolios or any pubic infrastructures brings complexity that originates from the varying detailed needs of the management company, their commercial & residential tenants, and the owners of the building. Complexity can be at every level of operation with some facing reporting challenges that stem from operating multiple buildings across different geographies, whilst others arise from the management of diverse ranges of tenants and asset types that can be distributed across many floors.

This of course comes against a backdrop of continual change in external market factors which need to be considered in any decisions impacting leases including IFRS16.

Revenues, utilization, costs, yields, and tenant churn need to be proactively managed against expectation, together with risk, with all positions continually monitored taking into account both macro and micro economic trends throughout the year, not to mention those emergencies that can challenge us at any time. Processes to achieve this need to be manageable, self-service orientated where it makes sense, and intuitive to ensure compliance with policies with any negative trends identified early to reduce material commercial impact.

Management of Revenue and associated cash collections is about now and the future whether systems be cloud or on premise. Processes need to be efficient and should leverage tenant self-service and new payment systems, where appropriate, in order to reduce administrative overheads and at the same time be able to facilitate management in setting and implementing any future tenant charges and re-charge goals. To facilitate this:-

• Management fees, monthly leases and rental fees can be efficiently billed to each unit, parking place owner, business outlet or clubhouse member or the same done for groups of same owner units.

• Serviced apartments that require management and billing of utilities can also be handled.

Self Service portals can be optionally deployed to various stakeholder types for bills advice & payment, or more broadly to geo centric located shared service centers for multiple buildings to further leverage costs.

Deployment of QR codes, barcodes and mobile can also be considered to simplify payment processes and where appropriate these can leverage Octopus, Apple Pay, Alipay, WeChat Pay etc.

• Delinquent payments can be actively managed including interest payments and workflows.

• Management of chargeable and non-chargeable ad hoc tenant services can be handled including compliance with authorized price lists ie rental and time management of equipment like ladders, BBQ areas, function rooms, or non-tenant related billing for clubhouse activities.

• Cash flow forecasts can be performed by property or any aggregate level with scenario planning.

• CRM management can be used for internally and externally related activities ie events, sports coaches, function rooms etc depending on circumstances.

• Workflow management can be utilized for corrective actions including safety issues, defective lighting and these processes might include initial reporting of a fault through the use of mobile photos and location reference descriptions etc. Emerging Beacon deployment might be considered for guest related customer services or maintenance.

Analytics support facilitates management at a broader level including:-

• Risk exposure, and comparison of operational revenues that can be managed across multiple properties, geographical areas and tenant types.

• Ranking of revenues with groupings (ie top 10) using standardized metrics.

• Management of operating variances and yields against overall and functional budgets.

• Lease payments amounts that can be smartly determined including turnover related rent components.

• Management of IFRS 16 implications for leases.

• Rolling renewal analysis by floor space with prioritized actions to minimize churn related down time.

• Foot traffic and security management in public and private areas including car number plate tracking.

• Surveys and subsequent data analysis for assessments of service levels by functional area.

Management of Costs can be diverse not to mention complex and are vital to facilitate decision support, segregation of duties and controls. These might include:-

• Staff & contractor rostering with time & attendance management.

• Fixed asset management.

• Various inventory needs that require these items to be actively maintained. For example for the upkeep of gardens and pools not to mention keys to common and on-demand areas.

• Decorations that can be diarized and organised for different festive times of the year.

• Mobile platform to hold latest versions of miscellaneous charges or standardized authorized processes for fixed asset operations and maintenance repairs.

• New areas of cost management that are emerging through the Internet of Things (IOT) that will facilitate routine and maintenance timings.

Cost management can cover the entire procurement process for goods, capex and services with the ability to understand detailed costs and/or delivery variances for any item or service in the various locations for which management services are being provided.

Transparency to a variety of stakeholder requirements, including residential operational committees, can only be achieved by having the ability to granularly record and report in multiple dimensions across geographies, which then allows for the tighter management and operational comparison of both revenue and cost related activities. Deployment of self-service portals to both property staff, as well as tenants, can minimize costs with regional geo portals facilitating further cost leverage. A game changer!


HR Software Trends 2017


Creating Value

Management of Human Resources (HR) is a painful process where we can constantly struggle to get quick, timely and consistent answers to even basic questions, like the number of staff that we employ globally, what they do, and their related payroll costs.

Corporate Focus Today for HR Systems, is on product replacement cycles, first global roll outs or undertaking process improvements for internal or external purposes; for example the latter might be related to the Dodd-Frank law’s disclosure package for executive pay. With limited vendor choice available, companies of all sizes have had to focus on leveraging multiple HR & payroll systems to form a strategic global solution but, even then, many smaller related processes still have to be done somehow.

What is going to change in 2017?

Full or Partial Process Automation, and easier creation by end users, will enable a big difference. Complex tasks, like commissions, and complex processes, like budgets, using a new type of solution will allow ultra-fast, auditable and repeatable processes to work across both multiple applications and locations, in order to reduce complexity and to improve productivity. Additionally, any loss of know-how once a person leaves a department will be reduced, through the ability to slowly replay centralized process steps at a granular level for collaborative purposes.

Primary Data Flow and Secondary Data Flow considerations are a good way to think through how automations can impact your processes.

For example like expat professional qualification renewals in their home country as processes can operate within or across entities.

At the beginning of a process they might be involved in collecting the physical data files from operations and be able to automatically escalate in cases where there is non-timely receipt of the required files; or even check received files for content; a simple example might be the matching of brought forward balances to carried forward balances for headcounts from last month.

During the process they will enable production of ranked commission payments either for that submission or for all submissions and be able to start workflows for corrective action in any process flows in the event that adjustments become necessary or for specific events like approved hires not being filled. They are very useful for HQ to gain operational insights over remote entities.

At the end of any process, involving month end reporting packs, they can rank variances by entity, region, or globally for quick assimilation of details by process owners or stakeholders.

Ethnic mixes, gender pay gaps, gender rises given by manager are a level of detail needed in this day and age but with the reporting issues highlighted above, this level of detail is more loosely managed than perhaps it should be, due to the inability to get relevant summarized data. Also every region has its foibles that needs to be managed to build a homogenous culture or to manage regional variations. An example of the latter might be that physical robots, rather than Virtual Assistants, looks like they will be managed by HR for social taxes in Europe which will raise a few eye brows.

Business Simulations Will Measure Potential Impact Change and to probe how changes might impact the business. This might be a change in commission plans to incentivise or assessments of number of people required within a process or to use last year’s data to run this year’s processes to test for internal response capability and potentially evaluate options for business process outsourcing (BPO).

Continued Roll Out of Employee Self Service (ESS) and Management Self Service (MSS) Capabilities will be an Area of Focus and will continue the drive to shift more processes from centralised administration resources to employees. In many locations outside of the US the adoption of ESS and MSS is low, meaning that there are efficiencies to be gained that will only accelerate as it then becomes easier to roll out consistent incremental processes. These will cover a wide range of functions whether it be On Boarding, Performance Management, Time & Attendance, Expense Management, Leave, Compensation & Benefits etc.

New End User Driven Technologies, that are outlined above, will allow HR to deploy end to end processes with segregation of duty (as opposed to a more passive portal) to provide additional ESS and MSS capability for broader areas i.e. networking coffee with overseas visitors, focus groups, health sensor initiatives, gamification set up etc. some of which do not quite fit into current applications.

Challenges will Continue for ESS and MSS Access from Mobile. Complications can arise during roll outs; for example 1) ESS and MSS can cut across both global HR and local payroll systems which adds complexity 2) internal corporate policies do not enable a technical solution to be designed as required thereby slowing a process; examples might be due to policies not officially supporting a required browser version or even, if supported, the vendor might not support that within their applications.

Driving Proactive Processes not Reactive Processes will be deployed as part of continual improvement within or across entities for management, oversight and prevention. After all, for example, if one can reduce attrition then think of the other related processes that do not have to be executed and the time that can subsequently be saved. With time freed up there will be more time to align people with strategy that anecdotally nearly all us think is a great idea but few have time to focus on.

Examples of Proactive Management might be 1) aged approved but unfilled hires that slow growth, 2) employees fully charged out but who have taken no holiday and therefore who might be a flight risk or 3) checking team profitability pre-assignment to keep overall long term KPI’s in check.

More importantly these standard processes can be added across smaller operations for leverage and be managed by more senior regional staff by providing a platform for gaining proactive insights.

Gamification can be Facilitated by the Technologies Above, and is a new exciting area and, as with all these things, ideas and execution can more developed in some geographies or companies, rather than others. It can be applied to help foster communications between new staff, reward collaborations and the opportunities are endless to foster a healthier lifestyle. Health initiatives combined with gamification is interesting to encourage and has the potential to enable costs savings for both employees and employers not to mention facilitation of a healthier life style.

New Rostering Applications that enable further leveraged value creation will be easier to create, together with any back end processes required to support the change; for example in retail the ability for multi branded shops belonging to the same corporate within a city can see employees move around between outlets within a day, as required based on demand, far more granularly than today.

Legislation today is tough and process oversight vital especially in those sensitive cases like sexual harassment where failure to sort underlying problems leaves individuals exposed to ongoing issues not to mention the organisation being exposed to heavy damages in any subsequent but similar case. These types of process flow issues can be handled x-border making mandatory escalation and oversight easier.

Security Considerations will be the subject of more scrutiny for compliance and depth of operation. Inevitably, whether it be insiders or activity from the deep web, systems are exposed and only through an equal focus on systems and processes will the risk be reduced. A number of increased areas of focus can be seen now; 1) Dual Password Authentication for ESS and MSS 2) continual rolling and very detailed audits on month to month movements relating to each element of pay, including changes in bank account details, 3) better employee and vendor education, as corporates continue to lock down more areas of risk.

In Summary HR processes take anecdotally 80% of the time with management taking 20% of the time. New types of light weight applications are going to help reverse that ratio and will allow combinations of data from existing subsystems to come together for insights for value creation opportunity. A game changer for both HR and management!

Could You Benefit from FinTech Technology?


In the last few years FinTech has been grabbing news headlines as a disruptive technology that is making a big difference to consumers. Rarely deployed by older style banks until recently, FinTech is synonymous with disruption, but you were more likely to read or use it through new start-ups aiming to disrupt the financial heavyweights, rather than by the traditional players in financial services. Sleeker, faster, cheaper and often leveraging mobile technology, users liked the new user experiences, so older financial services companies have woken up and are now aggressively exploring these newer technologies to enhance their selected solution offerings to end users.

What is Different?
In a nutshell a combination of technologies have come together at the same time allowing the more nimble software developers to leverage them as a starting point to build something different. These newer solutions have a smaller technology footprint, and bring to the market functionality at a much lower cost than available before. They enable ultra-fast transaction processing together with enhanced decision support capability and control.

Do I Need to Be a FinTech Company ?
No, any company can leverage these technologies and to do so allows them to gain competitive advantage by being able to streamline business processes and to undertake any required transformations at high speed including those with Big Data.

Why Should I Care?
Recent Studies undertaken by point to a number of relevant data points but two stand out. Firstly that the finance function spends about 50% of its available time on transaction processing, (Source, 4th December 2015, Metric of the Month: How Finance People Spend Their Time), and secondly that the "cost of finance as a percentage of revenue" differs somewhat widely, even within the same industry, (Source, 15th March 2016, Metric of the Month: Total Cost of the Finance Function). So taking a rough average delta of about c. 1.5% of revenue between the most and least efficient companies would suggest that there is additional profit well worth having for any organization.

Another buzzword but in essence all about allowing your customers to love you more by being easy to deal with at all levels. Easy to explain but hard to do especially when your processes are suffering from excess friction.

Why is It Different?
Users can define their own processes from data collection through all transaction processing to visualisation including reporting @anywhere. Reports can have rankings and Virtual Assistants can help with full or partial automation of processes @anywhere, whether that be contextual alerts and/or workflows, all helping you to improve productivity. Additionally Business Simulations can be run. All can be done with high performance with all processes auditable and repeatable meaning that the system is working for you.

What Can I Do?
You can tackle complex tasks and processes within Financial Services. Examples being compliance with IFRS 9 and 13, Loan Simulations & Classifications, Portfolio Management, Lease Management, GRC processes, HKMA Reporting, CSR Initiatives like Supplier Audits, and processes that go across multiple locations like intercompany “ Internal Research Billing”.

Latest technologies bring enhanced capability. For example Cloud Burst technology to create hybrid processes to leverage the public cloud but where data is always stored in-house. Embedded reports to avoid attachments.

Do I Need to Replace or Upgrade Existing Systems?
These latest technologies can work with your existing systems to start knocking out business bottlenecks. For decision support and other reporting activities information can be quickly transformed. Any staff movement where users leave ad hoc spreadsheets for someone else to pick up, or where spreadsheets get removed, will be a thing of the past as all processes can be reviewed collaboratively, step by step, for continual improvement.

Next Steps
Please contact us.

Can You Do More in Less Time? Ask me Again @ the End of 2016


The Issue
According to recent research in the US, which was published in in December 2015 and March 2016, companies spent 13% to 16% of their available finance function time on Management Activities. About half of that total time was spent on Transaction Processing, with the balance after deduction of management activities, being on Control and Decision Support. Additionally, if you expressed as a percentage the total cost of the finance function over revenue, then the total cost of finance ranged, in aggregate, from 0.57% to 2.13% with wide variations discovered within an industry sector, all pointing towards process inefficiencies.

The Opportunity
Fighting for every basis point of profit in business can be a monumental task and if the research above, from a large number of companies, is indicative of potential savings, then for sure anything that gives traction in gaining efficiencies will have an impact on the bottom line. Arguably, however, there is a lot more potential value locked into the main daily operational processes that can be unleashed with better resource allocations.

Why Has Software Design Been Able to Change
A combination of factors have come together that allows end-users to leverage their domain expertise and to define partially or fully automated processes. These start from data collection, through all process flows to reporting including the ability to undertake complex Business Simulations and to generate Contextual Actionable Alerts or Workflows. This is made possible by the software being written for 64 Bit and being also optimised to leverage the parallel computing capability of the multiple cores and threads of today’s mobile and desktop processors. This coupled with latest compression technologies, and the optimisation of software for management accounting, means that even the most complex processes or tasks can be achieved in a single step, meaning rapid execution and greater efficiency including those that include data transformation from sub systems.

Complex Processes and Complex Tasks
Complex processes like Budgets & Forecasts are always a challenge taking months to conclude with multiple iterations across all business units. Normally completed sometime in Q4 they are often rarely finalised until Q1 and are referred to, in original or modified form, throughout the year. Processes are repeated, are never detailed enough meaning that time is spent trying to figure out how a particular number was calculated in the first place. Complex tasks normally are specific, complex, repetitive and time consuming to execute, requiring multi step processes that often include extensive and specific spreadsheet designs where knowledge can be lost on a staff member leaving.

Do You Need Real Time Systems
Whilst we all understand, at a holistic level, that real time systems are desirable they are currently viewed as unrealistic. Most companies are actually tackling a very narrow prioritised list of processes to add value to their business. They will eventually get towards real time and this activity will accelerate as additional incremental time is released through the removing of frictional processes. Bottlenecks are in fact an inherited legacy with the required data for a specific task being somewhere in the various sub systems. Simply put, technology has only just reached a point in the last 12 months to effectively and practically reduce friction at a reasonable cost.

What Can be Achieved Now
With latest technologies end users can now define processes from data collection, thru all required business flows to reporting with any required user interaction or segregation of duty. Selected highlights:-
● Some processes or tasks require data to be collected from operations. These can now take the shape of a smart form that renders, with a zero footprint based on a user’s function. This means that forms only contain required fields. Less errors and a better UX.
● Processes that require data submissions from multiple subsidiaries are labour intensive. Now software robots can detect for non-submission, and auto chase by starting a relevant workflow. They can also undertake simple or complex checks ie is b/f = c/f from last month or is profit in the required range for a budget submission and accept or reject based on the situation.
● During any process flows, ranked results can be shown at regular intervals to show the top XX or bottom XX products and/or contextual alerts started depending on the result of what is being potential stock outs, slow moving stocks etc.
● Progress bars for longer processes (financial close ) can show you what the system is doing at any time, regardless of device, so that you can always see progress rather than an apparent inactive screen.
● Latest technologies drive results through high performance. Results can be seen close to real time meaning more time can be spent on management in assessing specific situations.
● Business Simulations allow you to quickly test and rank millions and millions of combinations of potential resource allocations to drive cost efficiencies by assessing multiple factors simultaneously.
● Processes can be collaboratively reviewed, step by step, for continual improvement. New staff can quickly be productive and when staff leave process knowledge is retained and not lost.

On-Line, Off-Line, Centralised , De-Centralised
The UX capability means that systems are smart, scalable and can be deployed to any device as required for the process in hand. Processes can be totally or partially automated and are granular, allowing the user to define the process that works for them, even if it goes across multiple sub-systems and personnel. A useful feature for internal audit is the ability, with granular security control, to file copy, so fast, relevant data from a subsidiary to give oversight or to leverage robots for contextual results.

Leverage Existing Systems
When we look back over time we can see that business systems have improved incrementally and whist friction has been reduced it is still a major issue, as required data is often a subset of recorded data and exists in multiple locations. Bringing data together and transforming it as required for ad hoc or planned reporting is troublesome due to massive volumes, data formats and computational requirements. This new generation of solution leverages your existing systems to enhance planned, ad hoc, or event driven reporting for decision support, resource optimisation and segmental reporting.

Will You See the Difference
Absolutely as you will:-
● Save time through automation so that processes are more accurate with less errors (smart forms) are repeatable, auditable and fast.
● Be able to annotate generated entries with meaningful descriptions which are useful for subsequent reviews.
● Be able to leverage software robots to work at any stage of the process to drive contextual reports or workflows.
● Deliver month end reports pre- analysed with contextual information with ranked variances, noting that contextual attachments and/or workflows can be generated as required depending on results. Possible errors can be highlighted on the screen for required users but will not be shown on reports,
● Define processes that can be totally automatic, require one button or be partially automated. Brings relevant data from sub-systems to one page for decision support, resource optimisation and reporting.
● Drive proactive not reactive management.
● Perform Business Simulations allowing you to test processes quickly or gain insights for resource optimisation.

So when asked again at the end of 2016 “Do you work for your system or does your system work for you” your reply could be very different.

What Makes An ERP Software Great


Buying an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that fits your company’s needs is complex and confusing. With hundreds of ERP software on the market, it’s easy to fall into analysis paralysis.

There is no reason to get to that point, if you can figure out a few key points that make good ERP software. But before you do that, you need to first assess your company’s needs. Are you needing an ERP system for human resources, accounting, manufacturing, inventory management, or all these things combined? This determines whether you need a standalone system or an integrated suite of tools.

What type of buyer you are also plays a role. If you’re a small business owner with less than 50 employees, you might be hesitant in investing in an ERP system because of high upfront costs. But in the recent years, cloud technology has carved out some new opportunities for small business owners, offering lower costs and less technical challenges. If you’re an enterprise-level buyer, you probably need to have a system for multiple departments, leaning towards an all-in-one system.

When evaluating potential ERP solutions for your company, you want to keep in mind the following traits:

1. Intuitive

Software is only as good as people using it. In other words, if people have trouble using it because it’s not user-friendly and intuitive, it should be considered not good. Even though ERP systems can be big depending in the size of the company, the concept shouldn’t be complicated. At the same time, there should be a degree of control and ability to customize.

2. Mobile-Friendly

Years ago, it was inconceivable that an entire computer system could fit into your pocket. The reality is vastly different now, with smartphones and tablets exceeding desktop usage. The same reality is happening for ERP solutions.

A good ERP system keeps up with this trend and is mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendly ERP software boosts productivity and is flexible, especially with more of the workforce telecommuting or being offsite. It allows valuable information available even if people using it aren’t in office.

3. Good Customer Service

Superior ERP software offers the same level of customer service, support, and maintenance. Training is essential until everyone assigned to use the system can be brought up to speed. If there is no in-house expert, implementing a new ERP solution will take time and effort by the manufacturer; so good customer service is crucial. This is also important because many vendors often consolidate, which means support and the system itself can be phased out overtime.

You have many options when evaluating a solution for ERP in Hong Kong for your company. You can also go with the software as a service (SaaS) route. The initial cost is lower, it runs on a web browser so everyone is familiar with it, and you don’t need a full-time IT professional to maintain it.

When all the stars are aligned and you find a system that’s intuitive, easy to use, flexible, mobile-friendly, with good customer service, it’s much easier to streamline your operation.

4 Reasons to Use a HRMS System

The human resources department is probably the bread and butter of most organizations. Finding and hiring the right people is crucial to an organization’s success. Companies spend millions of dollars hiring, onboarding, and training employees. This requires the HR department to be hyper-organized.

Cue human resources management system (HRMS).


There is a HR system available to suit every budget and organization capacity, so there is really no excuse for companies to not invest in one. But there are still many companies that hold off on using a HRMS system, because of one reason or another: upfront expense, training to use it, etc.

If you’re still reluctant to invest in a system for HRMS in Hong Kong, here are the reasons you should consider one:

1. Hiring

Everything starts with hiring the right person. A HRMS system allows one central place for job postings, tracking CVs, scheduling interviews, recording interview results, processing new hire paperwork, and every other conceivable task related to hiring resources. This is convenient, saves a lot of time, and makes sure everything is neatly organized in one place.

2. Increased Productivity

HR department is typically more than just the human resources. Sometimes they act as payroll or general record keeping. HRMS systems allow your business to outsource these parts of the HR department so they can focus just on managing people and training employees.

3. Employee Management

Any accolades, praises, and compliments for specific employees can be recorded in a HRMS. This is handy when annual evaluation comes around. If you’re a manager and you want to express your thanks to your star employees, having a copy of your thank-you letter can be placed into an employee’s “file.” In this case, it’s not a physical file but a HRMS.

Laying off or firing someone is never a decision taken lightly, but it’s often necessary to keep a smooth operation. A dark side of employee management is keeping track of who to let go when the time comes. HRMS software lets you document all the grievances, so in case there’s a chance of litigation, you have an electronic “paper trail” to back you up.

4. Reduce Errors

Payroll errors can be costly. A HRMS system can help you dodge those errors. It does a better job of Excel spreadsheet or any accounting book. It can also automate payroll and increase efficiencies.

In the past, companies were reluctant to invest in a HRMS system due to high cost. With improved HRMS technology like cloud HR software, upfront costs are getting lesser and lesser. Cloud technology also makes it easier to replace the HRMS system if you don’t like it, since it’s not as highly customized and proprietary as the traditional option.

Despite all the talks of outsourcing and robots replacing potential jobs, human resources remain the most crucial and central part of any organization. Employees drive companies. To hire the right ones, there needs to be a right system to keep all the info. That’s the purpose of having an HRMS system.

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