Here are some observations coming from an engagement at a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) on setting up Data Governance processes.
- Property managers, IT personnel, business analysts and the senior managers they support are involved in various aspects of creating, managing or reporting on property information.
- Salesforce CRM systems may be deployed at a REIT for managing contacts (tenants, investors, employees, suppliers, or even leases), accounts (properties) and managing the deals with them
- The responsibility of entering new property level data into the IT systems lies with the property managers at each of the properties. They determine what data should be updated and when.
- Most real estate organizations increase the level of outsourcing of property management activities over time as they accumulate more and more properties. The third-party property managers provide specific know-how on marketing, pricing and managing the properties; but often lack the training and skills for ensuring the reliability, usefulness and timeliness of property data. Holding them accountable for the quality of property level data is often neglected as well, which only compounds the problem.
- REITs need to assign formal responsibility for developing and owning the data standards and stewardship responsibilities to business units, with IT’s support. Such data governance strategies should also include responsibilities assigned for setting the retention policy, archive the data and communicate these policies to the organization.
- Develop a view of the various departments within the REIT and their roles around each significant entity. As an example, contact information may be input by multiple departments – Asset Management, Portfolio Accounting, Marketing. Such a view across departments and data entities they interact with is a good place to start the analysis and recommendations for data governance.