Savills Australia is a boutique commercial agency providing property management, facilities management and financial services to clients in the commercial, industrial and retail space. Savills is one of the 5 large managing agencies, with experience and expertise that spans the globe. With over 600 offices across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, Savills is one of the largest and most recognised managing agents in the country.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant change to how people live, work and socialise forever. This has greatly impacted the real estate industry and revealed inadequacies related to how traditional commercial property management services operate.
David Watson, The National General Manager for Asset Management, Savills Australia, understands the situation very well. David shares with us how the team at Savills has been coping with the lasting effects of the pandemic and how they are using the MRI platform to drive innovation in their organisation and in the lives of their clients.
Challenges in traditional commercial management
When David joined Savills in 2019, It was apparent that a flexible software architecture was needed to help Savills adapt to changes in both environment and usability requirements without encompassing structural changes. An innovative solution would also free them of rigid structures and duplicated data that otherwise would obstruct functional evolution and growth.
David recalls “We were managing hundreds of properties and doing everything manually.”
When the pandemic hit, the traditional management tool added more strain to the workload. This resulted in the team restructuring the way of working to remain relevant in an evolving market.
“The first thing we did was listen to our key clients and internal staff to understand what was working and what we needed to improve on.”
Adding communication between the team and clients also helped Savills identify roadblocks in their workflow and make a more informed decision on what technology offerings they can use to get the best outcome with their processes.
In addition to this, the increase in popularity towards business process outsourcing in the industry has put an onus on service providers to put greater focus on risk management and compliance. As a result, this increased their need to add the GS007 compliance to their corporate resume.
Solution: Optimise systems and process improvement
Central to Savills’ strategy is their expanding use of MRI’s open platform, which allows them to connect with partners that share their vision of an agile business model. For David, this not only addressed their current needs but also helped them remain flexible and easily adapt to ongoing transformation in the future.
With the MRI platform, Savills can easily add new technology that supports the ongoing innovation of the business while combining multiple solutions into a single place “The Source of Truth”. This strategic implementation of the software streamlined their work processes and resulted in an efficient and robust system for their business.
David explains: “The MRI platform is fantastic! It gives us the ability to link any third-party software solutions using APIs all linking through the platform in real time – everything is interconnected.”
Facilities Management made easy
One of most important additions integrated by a partner of Savills was the facilities management module. Savills was able to work collaboratively with MRI and the third party to restructure their way of operating this specific part of the business. The Facilities Management Tool also gave the team massive time-savings by enabling contractors to input invoice information in configurable fields which then feeds directly to the platform.
Budgeting and Forecasting sorted
In additional to bridging modern software applications, Savills has also benefitted from adding MRI’s own line of solutions to the platform. One of these is the Budgeting & Forecasting module that allows them to quickly pull all their outgoings and reconciliations data, produce dynamic and accurate budgets and forecasts and eliminate manual data entry. This in turn reduces duplication and time-consuming importing and exporting of information.
Saving time in property management process
MRI worked closely with Savills to ensure the seamless integration of another great partner product focused around e-forms.
David highlights: “E-Forms are great! With dropdowns and autofill features, it saves time completing forms and our accountants can now approve them with a single click. That makes a huge difference when you process 44,000 forms a year.”
David estimated about 30% reduction in staff hours by using e-Forms in processing client requests. The improved productivity is also reflected in the employee’s overall well-being and effectiveness. By automating admin tasks, the staff can contribute to more high-value work without wasting their time on manual tasks.
MRIs flexible platform made it easy for Savills to plug in the “best of breed” applications, complimenting the platform even further.
Delivering great services with client portals and dashboards
Adapting new Proptech solutions benefit clients, who at the end of the day, are the core of every real estate business.
David notes: “The past two years have been a bit of a rollercoaster. But now we’re in a great position to give our customers the tools they need to be successful,”
One testament to this is the Savills National Asset Portal (SNAP) – a client portal designed and developed by Savills which integrates well with MRI. The software compliments the unique needs of Savills’ client base and how they engage with the management team.
“Our clients love that they can make self-service requests through the SNAP. Those go straight into our commercial management system, which is another big time-saver,”
Another feature that impresses clients is the design of the SNAP dashboard.
“I love having that view of our portfolio, it’s a total must-have for me.”
David shared that with a configurable dashboard, the team at Savills can present real-time performance of properties to their clients in a format that’s visually engaging with easy navigation.
Open and connected system for GS 007
By utilising MRI’s open and connected platform, Savills was able to maintain data integrity across different systems and eliminate manual data entry errors with automated transactions. The evolution of this process added to the competitive advantage needed to give Savills a major competitive advantage and secure their position as a reliable real estate business.
David Comments: “The GS 007 standard will give us a point of difference, especially with our big international clients who want to reduce risk,”
Ready to move up
With the MRI platform, Savills can continue to adapt efficiently.
David expressed: “All of our technology is connected, we’ve got a great selection of tools in our toolbox, and we know that we can keep building on that with new apps.”
David is excited for what lies ahead and believes the team at Savills is ready to win more business while they continue to future proof their process.
Businesses face the challenge of having to do a lot more to stay ahead of change and It’s no longer possible to look at different areas in isolation. One adaptive & strategic solution is required to deliver multiple solutions.
The pandemic has truly changed the game for commercial real estate and by adapting, Savills is equipped to thrive.
Learn more about how Savills has transformed their asset management business in the session “Growth through Innovation” from MRI Ascend APAC 2021.