Let’s face it – few people love their jobs so much that they want to spend 24 hours a day working. It’s nearly physically impossible to do so! What does make sense is finding tools and approaches that work best for you to project manage your business. And those strategies differ from person to person.
Instead, try one (or more) out and see what works for you. You’ll want to give yourself a couple weeks — a month is best, if you can dedicate the time — to find the right solution to adopt. This article talks about several different approaches. The first involves project management tools. The second introduces and describes a ton of go-to apps that many CRE brokers (and others associated with the CRE industry) use every day.
Why Project Management Tools?
Project management exists across all industries. The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines it as the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.
While the responsibilities might look different in the tech sector versus the construction, interior design, or financial sectors there exists a selection of tools and techniques designed to make all project managers’ jobs — regardless of industry — a little easier.
But you don’t have to be a project manager (PM) to use the following tools. They’re designed to help you successfully control your projects and prevent those projects from controlling you!
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
This work breakdown approach enables PMs to organize each project element into smaller, manageable pieces and creates a type of task map. Not unlike a flow chart, each major deliverable sits at the “top” and the PM and their team divide and subdivide the deliverables. Once they’re in small enough components, each member can take on one or more assignments to complete.
These visual project management tools facilitate planning from concept through delivery. PMs can plan sprints, whole project timelines, milestones, individual deadlines, schedule work, and compare actual vs. planned timelines.
PERT (Program Evaluation and Review)
When scheduling is critical to deliver a project on time and on budget, PMs can use PERT to manage and estimate their project’s timeline. PERT uses statistical methods to manage probabilities, breaking down tasks into smaller activities and adding them to a Gantt chart. PMs can pull data from a Gantt chart based on earliest time (TE) and latest time (TL) that PERT calculates to estimate the time each activity/assignment requires.
Critical Path Method (CPM)
An algorithm that guides decision-making, CPM takes the information you input — all the tasks or the WBS, estimated time to complete each tasks, milestones and project deliverables — and helps you calculate the longest paths from planned tasks to completion. By calculating earliest/latest times a specific task can start and finish to stay on schedule, it’s easier to identify which tasks must stick to a timeline and which have more flexibility for starting or delaying without negatively impacting the completion.
CPM is a great optimizer that helps PMs visualize which tasks are interdependent and which should get priority. Like WBS, it also breaks deliverables into sequences to improve organization.
Regularly used in lean manufacturing, it resembles a series of cards on a board — not unlike a digital Pinterest board. These cards help users visualize workflows and monitor/manage projects by encouraging teams to work together more efficiently. The project board allows teams to see daily tasks and where those tasks fit into the bigger picture. Team members and the PM can reorganize and prioritize each card to improve workflows. This very visual approach fosters collaboration and works well for all types of projects.
Top Apps for Professionals Involved with CRE Business Dealings
When you first begin working with a client, the project involves many unknown variables. Having a procedure to manage the project — like the ideas recommended above — helps. These techniques provide a roadmap to help you organize all the moving parts of that project that might include:
- Finding the right property
- Securing the funding
- Identifying the buildouts or other structural changes
- Updating technology
- Designing and outfitting the interior
- Finding, onboarding, and managing tenants
While many of the following apps help facilitate CRE brokers facilitate their businesses, other professionals associated with CRE will also benefit.
- ClientLook CRM: Relationship management is one of the most important elements of a CRE broker’s job. This app facilitates client recordkeeping, tracking, and management. You can use it to track deals in the pipeline, monitor a full transaction lifecycle, and even use its Virtual Assistants to help with data entry, online lead capture, and listing administration.
- DealCheck: Need to analyze properties, look up sales or rental comps, compare deals, or create marketing reports? This app’s got you covered. You can also use it to calculate estimated closing costs, mortgage payments, ROI, profit, and cash flow.
- Dealpath: One of the industry’s best cloud-based deal management platforms, this app offers real-time pipeline tracking, deal overviews and analytics, file management, and collaborative workflows.
- DocuSign: With signatures a critical piece of all transactions including those that happen on the fly, this app facilitates electronic signatures on a huge range of documents. You can send signed docs via email, Google Drive, Dropbox, and other platforms.
- Evernote: This workhorse app is a one-stop-shop for those who’d rather not worry about multiple apps to manage their business. Use it for notetaking, recording audio clips, snapping images, creating to-do lists and presentations, sharing notes, and more.
- Harvest: Here’s a great productivity app to help you track how you spend your time each day. You can track time whether you’re online or not, and your whole team can use the app, too.
- Pocket: Want to stay updated on your markets and national trends? Pocket helps you collect and save articles you find but don’t have time to read. Stash them in this app and return later. The app also allows you to listen to articles — perfect for long commutes.
- Scannable: This Evernote app lets you scan any paper documents to save or share as PDFs and JPGs. You can keep, log, and track business cards from networking events, too, and file expense reports.
- VTS: One of the CRE industry’s leading leasing management apps, it allows brokers to access all their leasing data in real time — and in one place.
- X.ai: Struggling to coordinate and schedule meetings with multiple stakeholders? This app helps streamline the scheduling process.
Putting technology to work for you increases your productivity and efficiency. The world’s best apps, however, lose their effectiveness for anyone who struggles with time management. Incorporating various strategies helps to improve productivity, complete tasks and — most importantly — reduces work-related stress.
The CRE world includes many simultaneously moving parts. Project management tools and various apps help define workflows, analyze data, make adjustments, and direct your time (and other resources) where they’ll be most effective. No one should work 24/7— it’s unsustainable. Embrace the wide array of technology designed to maximize those 24 hours and reclaim time to maintain a healthy work-life balance.