Strategic Real Estate Portfolio Planning: Effective Solutions
In the post-recession, new normal, companies must do everything they can to ensure their real estate portfolios contribute effectively to the bottom line.
Peter Shannon, Executive Vice President, Strategic Consulting, Jones Lang LaSalle (Spring 2011)
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Ideally, portfolio teams can proactively and swiftly accommodate the needs of the business without becoming "order-takers," and provide strategic direction that creates value beyond cost savings. Once they establish credibility, CRE leaders can challenge conventional assumptions and offer ideas that not only improve portfolio performance, but also contribute to business growth and productivity.
Once the CRE team has a clear understanding of business drivers and priorities. They should develop and apply overarching real estate strategies that knit the right mix of comprehensive solutions for the optimal benefit. These guiding principles should be adaptable to meet the unique needs of individual business lines and geographies, and flexible enough to respond to unpredicted business events and activities. However, they should also be rigid enough to affect consistency and discipline across the portfolio.
Data Is King
Quality data and effective strategic portfolio planning are inextricably linked: The success of one relies on the other. Unfortunately, many organizations collect occupancy data haphazardly, if at all. Good data are critical for building and maintaining credibility with the C-suite; enabling strategic decision-making; developing sound business cases for investment in real estate programs and initiatives; and for measuring, managing, and reporting performance. The data you collect and maintain should link to your performance objectives and comprehensively cover supply, demand, availability, vacancy, and space utilization, in addition to suitability, total occupancy costs, and pertinent geographical and local market factors. Data should also adhere to the "3 As:"
• Accessible: Can you quickly and easily attain complete and accurate data? Do you have ready access to benchmarks for comparing your real estate performance to peers within an industry, or type and size of portfolio? Does your data provide a historical perspective in addition to a future view?
• Accurate: Does your data offer visibility into your true vacancy, even shadow vacancy? Do you have accurate space, headcount, and financial data? Is your information real-time and dynamic, or outdated and static?
• Aggregated: Can data be easily aggregated to provide a dashboard view of portfolio performance? Can you quickly and effectively model potential scenarios, manipulating individual factors to gauge and report potential impact?
The Need for Speed
Strategic portfolio planning needs to not only be sound, but speedy. As companies grow, C-suites want to make swift, unerring decisions on all aspects of the business. The right strategic planning tools can enhance and enable the decision-making process. Turning current and forecast data into actionable knowledge allows companies to make better choices faster, impacting both top- and bottom-line results and portfolio performance. Leading-practice strategic planners address business needs rapidly by creating and "selling" portfolio solutions to meet ever-changing business requirements. This requires the ability to capture data from multiple sources - occupancy planning, lease administration, accounting, HR, facility assessments - and combine that data with headcount demand and workplace and portfolio assumptions to create a dynamic model for the portfolio.