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New software enhances management's control.

When Cornu Management, a Boston-based manager of more than 2,200 subsidized and conventional housing units, analyzed the requirements of St. Joseph's Community, a signature residential cooperative property located in Boston, it recognized the need for a software platform that could organize and facilitate the myriad daily tasks associated with the maintenance operation of a large facility.

St. Joseph's size -- 137 units in 25 townhouse buildings on three acres of land -- posed numerous challenges to management and staff. Organizing daily maintenance jobs alone was an enormous and time-consuming project. Tying in staff schedules to hundreds of work orders and tracking all related expenses was also daunting.

Cornu believed that it was critical to centralize communication between staff and management and to simplify the exchange of information. This level of organization would also streamline the cataloguing of building activities necessary to meet HUD funding requirements.

To resolve these complex operational issues, Cornu turned to BuildingLink, a new web-based management software. The first OBCOM (Online Building Communications Manager), BuildingLink breaks down all management tasks into pre-defined categories customized for specific properties and portfolios. Options include inventory management, maintenance schedules and history, public space reservations, building and tenant emergency information, tenant surveys, and full work-order management. The software also enables management to handle these projects remotely, from any computer connected to the Internet.

BuildingLink's distinct tools may be tailored to specific properties, increasing management oversight. Services include a library for storage of relevant documents, a maintenance/repair request log, an address book, unit profiles, a gateway to Internet resources for local neighborhoods, and a bulletin board for important notices.

BuildingLink's strengths as a management tool were brought into sharp focus when a fire caused considerable damage in one of the St. Joseph Community buildings. Management used the software to catalog every expense incurred during the initial phases of the restoration and to track time spent on assessment and planning. At the end of the process, BuildingLink produced a complete record of efforts, enabling Cornu to recoup significant fees from the insurance company on top of construction and repair costs. Clearly, management software can easily pay for itself in savings.

In BuildingLink, owners, managers, staff and tenants have embraced the Internet as a way to avoid the headaches, time commitments and costs of hard-wired management systems. These professionals realize that older "legacy systems," which involve downloading software onto onsite computers, and all the associated costs of update fees, back-ups, equipment obsolescence and regular IT personnel visits are not ideal solutions for managed properties.

BuildingLink, which creates value by optimizing building performance with minimal staff training, produces immediate benefits while supporting the longterm growth of an asset. At a time when tenants look to owners and managers to provide the highest level of service, such a superior communication and organization tool is essential.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:BuildingLink; Cornu Management
Author:KESTENBAUM, JERRY
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 21, 2001
Words:468
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