Everyone who works with technology will eventually hear the phrase, “Garbage in, garbage out.” This little axiom signifies that no matter how sophisticated an information processing system is, the quality (accuracy, completeness, relevance, timeliness, etc.) of the information coming out of it cannot be better than the quality of the information that went in. A program working on inaccurate data will only yield misleading results. Once people lose faith in the information coming out of a system, it’s game over.
Data integrity is important for any computing system, but it’s particularly important for lease data because it is used by so many functions in an organization. Of course, no one intentionally puts bad data (aka garbage) into a software solution, but little acts of commission and omission can add up and lead to trouble. Here are 6 best practices that we recommend to keep you from falling into this trap.
1 – Start with well executed lease abstractions
The lease abstraction, of course, is the most important moment in the life of a lease as it relates to lease management software. Everyone who performs lease abstraction work should be well trained in which financial and non-financial clauses should be captured. It is a good idea to have a second person verify that the abstraction is complete and correct.
2 – Backlogs are the enemy
It is important to keep caught up with the abstraction of new or newly renewed leases for several reasons. First, if the lease data in the system isn’t up to date, the reports it produces will be incomplete. Next, data entry and other errors tend to happen more frequently when people are rushed or under pressure. Backlogs contribute to this condition.
3 – Set an SLA (Service Level Agreement)
We recommend that whoever will be doing the abstraction work for new leases set a timeframe for getting each new abstract complete. For most people, one week is a reasonable commitment to make.
4 – Go Big on Access, Small on Edit Privileges
The more people who have visibility into your lease data, the better. It can be useful for all sorts of decisions. However, not everyone who needs to see the data needs to be able to edit it. Think carefully about how roles and permissions are assigned. You want to share the results of your work far and wide, yet retain control over your most precious asset, your data.
5 – Devise an Informative Naming Convention for Documents
It will make life easier for everyone if you set a consistent naming convention for documents. Many of our clients use something like store number/commencement date/document type. So a lease file might be named, “2314_11-01-15_Lease.pdf.” Whatever convention you choose, it should be something that would be meaningful to someone who is not in the real estate department.
6 – Perform Periodic Reviews
We all need a sanity check from time to time, so it makes sense to set aside some time each month to spot check your data. Verify a few critical dates and make sure that the rents calculated by the system match what you think they should be. No database is perfect, but if you are able to spot errors or problem areas early, you can react quickly.
It is also a good idea to assess how well you are doing in terms of data access from time to time. Is everyone getting the information they need when they need it?
In real estate we’re told it’s all about location, location, location. In real estate management software, it’s all about data, data, data. If you are able to enter and maintain accurate data, the rest is a piece of cake.