For property tax teams managing multi-jurisdictional or global property portfolios, the volume of data that needs to be tracked can quickly add up. There are assessments, appeal filing dates and deadlines, taxes, payment statuses, forecasts and budgets, and more, not to mention associated jurisdictional contacts and others.
The sheer volume of data can make it hard to stay on top of it all, let alone glean valuable insights from it. Particularly for remote or dispersed teams, this presents a challenge: in a recent report on data management, 84% of people said that the shift to remote work due to COVID-19 increased the demand for data insights within their organization. However, two-thirds of these felt they lacked the agility in data processes to respond to this need.
Whether your team is remote or you see each other in person every day, a dedicated data management strategy is key to success. Here are our property tax management experts’ top four tips for managing large, dynamic datasets.
- Maintain all of your property tax data in one integrated software solution
On first blush, using spreadsheets to manage your property tax data may seem like an obvious solution: it’s inexpensive, easy to learn, and there are thousands of templates to be found online.
But when it comes to multi-jurisdictional portfolios, spreadsheets aren’t a reliable tool, especially for growing businesses. Excel’s basic accounting functions aren’t sufficient to process vast quantities of data, and complex macros and formulas can be difficult to learn, leading to knowledge silos within and between departments. What’s more, linking data between spreadsheets and maintaining dozens or hundreds of formulas is tenuous. Not to mention the added likelihood of errors – both as a result of manual data entry and within the formulas themselves.
With more than half of firms around the world lacking trust in their data accuracy, it’s no question that a single, integrated software system is the foundation for effective property tax data management.
- Ensure employees and third parties have simple access to the right data
Not having access to the data you need when you need it is not only frustrating, but also leads to bottlenecks in your workflow. Especially for teams operating in multiple time zones, these delays can add up quickly.
It’s also important that sensitive or key data is limited to specific employees or individuals. Ensuring your consultants or third parties can view and access the data they need (but not more) is essential. However, if you’re managing dozens of third parties across multiple taxing jurisdictions, and are part of a company with potentially hundreds or thousands of employees, closely monitoring who’s accessing what data can be impossible.
To minimize risk and delays in workflows, data should be centralized in a shared repository, and it should be easy for employees to access. Tools like SSO (Single Sign On) can come in handy here, as employees have fewer passwords to remember and limit the likelihood of getting locked out. Another time-saver is giving administrators the ability to batch-create user roles and access permissions, which can tremendously speed up workflows and ensure consultants or third parties don’t have access or control over data they shouldn’t.
- Automate routine tasks wherever possible
Automating tasks or workflows is a serious efficiency booster and helps cut down on mistakes. Ideally, any tasks that involve data transfer should be automated. Some of these tasks might include:
- Re-entering payment data to your accounts payable software
- Integrating data to your general ledger, such as your property tax accruals
- Entering tax bill information from paper forms into your property tax management solution
Areas outside of data entry, such as payment approvals, can also be automated and centralized in a single system or integrated systems. For example, itamlink allows you to automate data flow to software solutions like MRI, Yardi, and SAP, allowing you to cut down on back-and-forth emailing and disorganized tracking spreadsheets.
- Work with your data in bulk
One of the easiest ways to speed up your workflow and improve accuracy is to use tools and software that enable you to update and manipulate your data in bulk. Many software solutions require you to update records individually, which doesn’t work when you’re dealing with vast quantities of property tax data.
With the right systems and tools, you can optimize your processes so you can quickly update multiple records in your system (or sometimes across systems). Working with your data in bulk also gives you a better birds-eye view of your portfolio, helping you strategically review and analyze your data for value optimization and/or savings opportunities.
The first step to optimizing your property tax management strategy: data centralization
If your team is currently managing real estate property taxes in spreadsheets, it may take a little while to transition to an integrated software solution (tips on how to introduce software to your team here). But by centralizing data, streamlining data access, and automating routine tasks, your property tax team will quickly realize the benefits.