Sustainable Path to Efficiency

Much more than a catchy slogan, “Going Green” can provide a path for property managers that allows them to shed wasteful inefficiencies and reduce costs. Among the possible procedures involved are paperless invoice processing and centralized, Web-based procurement, environmentally friendly real estate practices that are also setting new industry standards for efficiency and cost effectiveness. Fully automated paperless invoice processing, for example, can sharply reduce labor and costs–by nearly $11 per invoice, according to an Aberdeen Group study. Vendor invoices arrive at a central location and are bulk scanned into the property management database, becoming electronic transactions. Leveraging the property management software’s functionality, pre-determined workflow routines are assigned to the digitized invoices. The invoices are then auto-routed through an online approval process, after which vendor payments may be made via electronic funds transfer or paper check.The process is simple and efficient, alleviating the need for massive photocopying, storage and movement of paper that are part of traditional accounts payable systems. CB Richard Ellis, for example, implemented paperless invoice processing and eliminated roughly 10 million pieces of paper annually across the organization. Another valuable benefit for the company has been reduction in vendor payment cycle time: from about 45 days to five days or less. E-procurement also supports green initiatives while infusing speed, efficiency and transparency into commercial real estate. It can:•    Reduce operational costs and inefficiencies with product catalogs and one-stop shopping;•    Provide centralized spend management and analysis;•    Support sustainability goals by identifying products with “green” certifications and grouping them into green-product catalogs;•    Enable a fully paperless procure-to-pay process by integrating electronic invoicing with the accounts payable processing system.The system uses point-and-click templates, automated bid comparison reports and an online contractor directory, cutting by nearly 50 percent the process of bidding out building-service contracts. Customized online catalogs–including green catalogs offering eco-friendly maintenance, repair and operations supplies–can be configured to match a company’s unique portfolio needs, allowing for uniform standards and compliant purchasing across all properties.Paperless invoice processing and centralized e-procurement strategies are setting new standards for efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly real estate practices, providing commercial property managers with a combination of advantages in these challenging times. Richard Malpica is vice president & general manager of the Eastern region for Yardi Systems.