Over the past few months, Axxerion has been working on the implementation of the complete Property Management System for BIM (Bossche Investerings Maatschappij). We are talking to Maurice Horsten, director of BIM, about the challenges and observations during the implementation.

Reason for the selection procedure

BIM was founded in 1950 by the Municipality of ’s-Hertogenbosch and the Chamber of Commerce with the primary task of stimulating economic activity in ’s-Hertogenbosch and the surrounding area. By bringing business people together, the city wanted to belong to the top 5 cities with the most favourable commercial climate. Approximately 20 employees work hard every day to keep the over 500 lessees in the city satisfied. BIM itself owns five premises and manages eight locations for the municipality, including business premises, offices and shops. Horsten: ‘We are also the owner and lessor of De Gruyter Fabriek in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. This is one of the largest multi-tenant business buildings in the Netherlands with a surface area of 55,000m² offering accommodation to 185 businesses. It is a unique building, accommodating many creative and innovative entrepreneurs and artists. We are proud of it!’

Various ICT applications were in use to support and implement the business processes. The different applications were not integrated which meant that information had to be stored at various locations. This turned out to be error-prone. There also were no clear KPIs or dashboards as data had to be retrieved from several systems. An important factor for smooth and efficient business operations is an entirely digital system and correct information provision for all processes. BIM of course wanted this too and therefore started to look for a suitable system.

Choice of Property Management Software

Horsten relates: ‘Our Finance Manager was involved in shortlisting different solutions. In the end, he selected preferential solutions which we looked at in further detail. We were working with, among others, a bookkeeping system and a property registration system. We wanted to replace these systems by one system in which all primary business processes could be organised. After an extensive process, we eventually selected Axxerion as it met all our wishes and requirements. The first step we made was to carry out a preliminary investigation to get a better feel for the impact. The implementation of a primary system is after all not something we do every day, but is very important.’

Business processes

The BIM has subdivided important main processes in the fields of property management, commercial property and finance. During the preliminary investigation, these processes were reviewed, improved and described in detail. For the secondary processes, such as personnel and salary administration, it was decided to keep on using the existing application.

Relation details

A start has been made with recording all relation details. A distinction is made between creditors (suppliers), debtors (lessees), stakeholders, potential lessees, general relations and owners (owners’ association – VVE). Emails are sent from Axxerion so that communication history is visible. For example, a record is kept showing whether the lessee was already resident in ’s-Hertogenbosch in order to be able to report this to the municipality. In addition, contact moments for financial processes such as demands and payment schedules are kept in a financial logbook. For suppliers, a qualification document has been linked in which records creditor rating is recorded.

Commercial property

The process relating to letting is fully placed in Axxerion. A potential lessee can indicate his/her requirements (m², location, type, space, price, explanation) via the website. After checking the request and availability, a viewing is scheduled via the commercial department. The follow-up is fully managed in Axxerion. After the offer has been produced and sent, a provisional claim (option) is recorded for the space, including expiry date. The reservation lapses automatically after the expiry date. Different options are managed in the process such as the end of the request, a new search, review of the offer or the preparation of a final contract. In the latter case, a lease will automatically be prepared on the basis of the offer. After signing, the contract goes to the financial administration and the management department. The processes relating to security deposits, rent invoices, extra (one-off) services, surcharges for blinds and air conditioning, collection forms, are monitored. The delivery of the key, cylinder, access pass is also incorporated. All steps that must be completed when terminating a lease are of course also included in a workflow. Naturally, Axxerion also provides support during the indexation of the rent, the recording of discounts, (future) availability for letting, analysis of reports and faults for each space/building and integration with the multi-year maintenance plan (MYMP).

Property management

Processes relating to property management are comprehensively included in Axxerion. A lessee or employee can register a report via a portal. The building manager will subsequently assess the report. The next process is fully organised via Axxerion. When a work order is created, it is considered whether it should be outsourced and whether the costs are charged on. Of course this also applies to preventative work orders that are created. As the reports are given a priority order and clear reports and dashboards have been created, the entire process can be properly managed. There is also a work flow for requesting and monitoring offers. After any approval, the purchase order is sent by email and included in the contract. This means that on delivery, the invoice can be easily checked. A practical element is that there is an identification of the total annual maintenance budget per type of maintenance. This prevents a particular budget already being spent halfway through the year. Naturally, the process relating to service charges settlement has been placed in Axxerion. BIM is considering introducing a points system that reflects the quality and facilities of spaces and could serve as a new basis for the settlement.

Financial

An important pillar of a complete property management system is invoicing. As may be expected, Axxerion supports both the incoming and the outgoing invoices and payments. At BIM, outgoing invoices (such as rent invoices, security deposits, service charges advance, etc) are generated automatically. In addition, a collection file is generated for most leases. Five days before the collection is planned, the lessee receives a notification. This is followed by a dunning process. The fact that there are VAT-registered accounts receivables and some that are not is taken into account and different letters are available for each type.

The accounts payable department has also digitalised its process with Axxerion. Incoming invoices are registered and linked to a work order, purchase order or contract. In addition, the entire approval process has been included. Bank statements can be imported which means that invoices are automatically reconciled.

Lessons learned

Horsten experienced the organisation of a new system as intensive: ‘Our team worked incredibly hard to make the implementation successful. In addition to their day-to-day work, the realisation of a primary system demanded a lot of time. We perhaps underestimated this in the beginning. However, support for a new system is very important.’ In the meantime, BIM’s accountant has carried out an audit on the newly organised processes. Horsten: ‘As the processes have been checked and approved, many elements are now handled in a standard manner. This will also make the year-end closing less hectic in the future.’

The collaboration and implementation with Axxerion continues. Horsten: ‘In the coming months, our Axxerion consultant will still be on site every two weeks. We will be further optimising processes and coordinating the right dashboards and reports. By doing so, we will be realising our final objective and have a good picture of how the processes are running. Where does it grind to a halt? What are the parameters like? In brief: what is the lay of the land and where can we make adjustments? It gives ease of mind to know everything is under control.’