Client: Rock Island Realty Industry: Real Estate
The Business Problem
Rock Island Realty is a Cincinnati, Ohio based real estate management and construction company. Their financial and project management processes were inefficient and time consuming. Instead of focusing more on growing the business, the CEO, CFO, and Project Manager spent too much time on finding the information they needed or completing business management tasks.
Financial Process Management
The client’s major financial management systems were not integrated with each other. They juggled accounting and rent management software, Excel budget spreadsheets, and Word documents for contracts and change orders. None of these systems talked to each other, which resulted in the client manually reconciling critical pieces of project details with each system and
for each project. This was understandably a very time consuming and frustrating process.
Business is going well for Rock Island Realty, so they’re managing many real estate, construction, and rental projects simultaneously. The client’s Project Manager primarily relied on email, text messages, checklists on Word documents, and handwritten notes from worksites for communicating and delegating tasks to his regional team. But that system wasn’t able to keep up with the growing business. He needed a more integrated and efficient system for managing his growing portfolio of projects and contractors. With these issues taking up so much of the Rock Island Realty team’s valuable time, they reached out to us to improve their operational efficiencies through IT-enabled business process reengineering and automation.
How We Solved It
We brought our IT consultant – Kyle Gundrum – to Rock Island Realty’s team to manage the project and create the IT-enabled solutions. We also brought in one of our consultants with an information systems management background – Michael Loch – to manage the process reengineering and UX aspects of the project
Kyle and Michael first met with the Rock Island Realty team to take a deep dive into their business and how they get things done. They cultivated a deep understanding of the client’s technology workbench, processes, workflows, and intricacies of their business in the real estate industry.
The discovery process built rapport and trust between the client’s team and our consultants. This enabled all parties to communicate freely and openly without hesitation, and have fun while at it!
The thorough discovery process gave Kyle and Michael the information they needed to create the project plan including deliverables, features, milestones, and timelines.
We first re-engineered the client’s financial management and project communication processes to create synergies and greater efficiency across the business. We then optimized the client’s existing technology stack and added onto it to operationalize the process improvements.
During the IT development phase of the project, we hosted onsite demos to create a culture of utilizing the new technology. We also collected feedback from the client that helped us improve the UX with each project sprint.
We hosted onsite training sessions for the Rock Island Realty team during the deployment phase of the project to ensure they understood how to make the most out of their new technology. We personally ensured that each team member impacted by this project fully understood the new processes and technology, and that they were satisfied with the solutions we created.
We delivered two primary solutions for Rock Island Realty – Improved business process efficiencies and IT-enabled tools to operationalize the newly reengineered processes.
Updated financial management workflows including:
- Change orders
- Financial reporting
New project management processes including:
- Milestone and task delegation/management workflows
- Project timeline management
- Improved team communication through centralized documentation procedures, contractor time tracking, and message tracking enabled by the new IT solutions we created
The newly optimized business processes we created for the client needed the right tools to make the magic happen. With Rock Island Realty being a small business, our solutions were created to achieve the target deliverables in a lean, cost-effective fashion.
IT-Enabled Financial Management Solutions:
- Central database for client relationship management and project management
- Customized Microsoft PowerApp for all financial workflows
- PowerApp responsive on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices
- Automated processes via Microsoft Flow integrations between the different tech assets being used
- Custom API integration connecting the new database, PowerApp, and accounting software with each other for 24/7 up-to-date reporting
IT-Enabled Project Management Solutions:
- Centralized digital project communication tools enabled by the new PowerApp and database we created including
- Recordkeeping and note taking
- Message and email tracking/tagging
- Photo and video capturing and storing from project site visits
- PowerApp responsive on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. Full internet connectivity for the project team’s tablets used at project site visits
- Project milestone, task, and timeline delegating + tracking.
- Contractor time and budget tracking
Thanks to the updated processes and IT solutions we created for Rock Island Realty, the customized PowerApp is their primary tool for finance and project management. All of the automation and cross-system integration is smoothly working in the backend.
For example, Rock Island Realty frequently has clients who need to make changes to their project orders (e.g., going from hardwood flooring to carpet). When a change order would come in, they would need to make updates to the contract, the project budget Excel spreadsheet, the accounting software, and then reconcile all of it to ensure accuracy. Now, they just need to input the change order on the PowerApp and everything associated with the project budget is automatically updated, including having a new contract instantly generated.
”Our business is growing and our outdated ways of doing things just wasn’t keeping up. So much of our time was spent on manually updating our financials and progress with projects. Kyle and Michael were very hands-on and really invested their time and energy in ensuring their solutions solved our problems. I’m grateful to have worked with Sarah Tsai Consulting and her team in helping us save so much time and frustration. I don’t know what to do with all of this extra time they saved me!Lisa MeeksCEO, Rock Island Realty