Imagine showing a prospective tenant your entire center - available bays or storefronts, other tenants within the center, and all pertinent leasing information - without leaving the leasing office. Through computerized facility management, this and a host of other time- and cost-saving benefits are possible.

Computerized facility management takes every aspect of your property - the architectural drawings, leasing information and maintenance schedule - and puts it into a convenient computerized format. This is done by an architectural firm, which converts all the blueprints to a computerized format, enters the leasing information into a facility management program, and then stores it on the architect's website or server. The property owner and manager and the leasing agents can then access the information by logging onto the Internet and entering the designated security codes.

'Virtual pictures' One of the main advantages of this latest technological convenience is computerized blueprints, or "virtual pictures," of an entire property. With the click of a mouse, you can see schematic drawings of each section of the center as well as all asset and lease information.

Take, for example, a shopping center tenant that wants to relocate to a different space (larger, smaller, wider, deeper, different location). Instead of walking the length of the center, the tenant can browse the entire center, zooming in on each available storefront or section of the mall, through computerized blueprints in the leasing agent's office. Everything the tenant needs to make a decision is available on the computer: location of each tenant; common area ratios and charges; lease terms; lease holder improvements; and square footage, walls, lights, and A/C ducts of each bay.

Computerized drawings also offer time-saving advantages when redesigning or renovating a property. When a new tenant wants to redesign a space, the property manager simply pulls up the drawings on the Internet, designates changes that need to be made, and e-mails revisions to the architect. Because most of the property already exists as a digital file, the architect can usually e-mail back working drawings that incorporate the changes within a few days. For the tenant that wants to renovate and move in quickly, computerized blueprints can mean the difference between leasing and not leasing a space.

Computerized facility management is especially useful to owners/managers of multiple centers or properties in different cities. From any computer with Internet access, managers can see exactly what is available and the changes needed to accommodate a new tenant.

Having the information available in a matter of minutes can also give you an edge in attracting national retail tenants. With a single phone call to your office, a major chain can get instant feedback on all aspects of available space in your center(s).

Maintenance advantages In addition to serving as a tool for leasing and renovation, computerized facility management can record the maintenance schedules of the buildings' systems. Once the information is entered into the database, it becomes a handy reference for essential maintenance functions such as when to clean air ducts, check plumbing and electrical systems, polish floors, maintain landscaping, etc.

This computerized scheduling can help lower maintenance costs by reducing human errors and oversights and unnecessary repetition of tasks. These extensive databases also allow managers and owners to monitor maintenance operations, reducing the dependency on any one person.

Computerized facility management is an efficient and cost-saving means of generating maximum value for your property. It takes the vast data needed to lease, operate and maintain a shopping center and converts it into an easy-to-access, invaluable management tool. Although initial investment costs and monthly maintenance fees vary, the long-term savings of time and money and leasing benefits far outweigh the costs.