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    August 2, 2022

    How Excel Compares to Real Estate Development Software

    Real estate developers have used Microsoft Excel as a project management tool for decades, and it's easy to see why. The program is ubiquitous, relatively easy to learn, and has just enough functionality to get the job done. However, even though it’s become an industry standard solution, it’s not real estate development software.

    Launched in 1985, the program was designed to be a  general-purpose spreadsheet tool. Back then, it was a groundbreaking solution that helped establish the professional utility of personal computers. But a lot of time has passed since then, and what was once cutting-edge has become antiquated.

    Today, managing your real estate projects through Excel can feel like running a delivery service with a fleet of Yugos. But purpose-built real estate development software offers a better way forward.

    Benefits and Limitations of Using Spreadsheets Instead of Real Estate Development Software

    If your company uses Excel, you know its benefits and limitations.

    On the plus side, the program can keep track of budget data, vendor information, invoices, contracts, and other documents. It’s also been around so long that you don’t have to show new hires how it works. And Microsoft provides regular updates and support for it because it’s part of its popular Office suite.

    However, Excel isn’t purpose-built real estate development software. Spreadsheets are a generalist solution that developers have had to manually force-fit to meet their needs. And real estate project teams have found that its design constraints create inefficient, error-prone workflows and less predictable outcomes. 

    To start, it requires manual data entry. You must collect a bunch of emails, attachments, and even back-of-the-envelope notes, requiring many rounds of emails and phone tag between departments. And then there is the joy of entering all that information into an endless number of spreadsheets. All that time-consuming administration work becomes incredibly tedious. Since draw request reports can include hundreds to thousands of pages, the data entry grind can quickly turn into burnout.

    That brings up another big problem with using Excel as real estate development software; human error. Regardless of their level of experience and caffeination, people make mistakes. And those mistakes lead to reconciliation errors that can make the reporting process longer than it should be.

    Lastly, Excel is a static program, and that doesn't provide a lot of visibility. As a digital filing cabinet, it can store a wealth of information, but that information isn’t collated. Answering a single project question, for example, your total spend with one vendor to date, requires sifting through a virtual pile of documents. And spreadsheets can only tell you what you’ve done in the past, which means your budgeting forecasts will be built on a foundation of guesswork.  

    By contrast, purpose-built real estate development software offers solutions for the problems created by depending on legacy software.

    [Guide] Start exploring the world of commercial real estate technology to find  the tool that solves your team’s most pressing problem area.

    The Advantages of Real Estate Development Software

    Now that we've identified Excel's biggest benefits and shortcomings let's look at how it stacks up to a purpose-built management solution.

    Like a spreadsheet, real estate development software can store all the salient information and documents related to a project. But since web-based platforms are dynamic, they can provide much greater visibility, functionality, and accessibility. The user can go from a comprehensive 30,000-foot executive view to a granular perspective in just a few clicks. If you have a question, you can find the answer on your office computer, home laptop, or the smartphone you use to watch Netflix on the way to work.

    Next-generation project development solutions also bulldoze data silos and eliminate data entry. Modern platforms use artificial intelligence systems to gather, extract, and index the salient project information from your existing email workflow. That means no more phone tag, time-depleting data entry, or error-ridden spreadsheets. All that time and energy can be directed toward project acceleration and pursuing new opportunities.

    Purpose-built programs offer more benefits, including greater efficiency and productivity. These solutions can examine your historical and current project information to generate precise forecasts and identify future challenges so you can mitigate them before they become costly disruptions. And it can identify opportunities for you to use your budget more effectively.

    The biggest difference between spreadsheets and real estate development software is reactive and proactive workflows. Because of their advanced functionality, data-driven solutions can help you have easier, more predictable outcomes on your projects. And integrating a state-of-the-art real estate development platform into your existing workflow is a lot easier than you might think.

    Book a demo with Northspyre today to see how quickly your organization can cut costs and improve your ROI.

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