Real estate abstract
A method of managing a real estate property on which the lease
parameters of the property are established in a computer database
and a computer data file of the database contains at least one user
profile related to management of the property. An assignment is
made in the data file of the attributes of the authority of the
user relative to the management of the property. The database contains
data as to each of an owner entity of the property, a property manager
entity of the property, if applicable, at least one tenant entity
that occupies space in the property, and one or more vendor entities
that are to provide services to the property. A user profile is
set for at least one user of at each of the owner entity, property
manager entity, if applicable, tenant entity, and vendor entity,
and at least one attribute of authority is assigned to each said
user. Communication capability is provided, preferably over the
Internet, between the users of the owner entity, property manager
entity, if applicable, tenant entity and vendor entity to manage
an provide services for the property. Each property is assigned
a domain name and a property owner can manage and obtain information
for one or more properties that it owns.
Real estate claims
1. A method of managing a real estate property comprising the steps
of: setting in a computer database lease parameters of at least
one tenant entity located in the property, at least one user profile
for the tenant entity and for a property manager entity related
to management of the property; establishing in said computer database
at least one vendor entity and service performed by said at least
one vendor entity for the property; assigning in said computer database
attributes of authority of a user of at least one of said tenant
entity and said property management entity relative to at least
one requesting a service for the property; a said user of said at
least one tenant entity or property manager entity making a request
for a service to be rendered for the property, verifying the attribute
of authority of the user requesting the service to be rendered for
the property, displaying a list of vendors from said computer database
that can perform the needed service, selecting a vendor from the
list, routing to the selected vendor the request for the service,
the vendor to whom the request was routed communicating the status
of fulfillment of the request to said database, maintaining status
of fulfillment of the service request; and providing communication
of the status to the entity requesting the service.
2. The method of claim 1 further comprising setting in said database
a user profile of an owner entity related to the property, and assigning
at least one attribute of authority to said user of said owner entity.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein there is at least one user for
each of the owner entity, property manager entity and tenant entity.
4. The method of claim 2 wherein in the setting step one person
is set in the database as a user in two or more of the entities.
5. The method of claim 2 wherein there are a plurality of properties
owned by an owner entity having lease parameters established in
said computer database.
6. The method of claim 5 wherein a said plurality of said properties
owned by an owner entity are managed by the same property manager
7. The method of claim 2 wherein in the setting step a principal
user of an entity is assigned the attribute of authority of being
able to assign or change the attributes of authority of another
user of the same said entity.
8. The method of claim 7 further comprising the sep of setting
in said database a user profile of a system administrator entity
and assigning a user of the system administrator entity the attribute
of authority to change the attribute of authority of a user of a
tenant entity of the property.
9. The method of claim 1 further comprising the step of providing
communication capability between users of the property manager entity,
tenant entity and vendor entity.
10. The method of claim 9 wherein the step of providing communication
capability comprises establishing Internet access for all of the
11. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step assigning
an attribute of authority to the user of a vendor entity.
12. The method of claim 11 wherein the step of maintaining the
status comprises a user of the vendor entity entering in said computer
database the status of the fulfillment of the service request and
communicating the status to the user of the entity requesting the
13. The method of claim 12 wherein the status of the fulfillment
of the service request is communicated to the property manager entity
of the property.
14. The method of claim 9 wherein the vendor entity to whom the
request is touted enters the status of fulfillment of the request
into said database that is available to the user of the entity requesting
15. The method of claim 1 wherein an attribute of authority comprises
a limit of monetary expenditure in making a service request.
16. The method of claim 1 further comprising the steps of: assigning
an Internet domain name to the property; and accessing the data
in said database over the Internet.
17. The method of claim 16 further comprising the steps of setting
in a said computer database data of an owner entity of each of the
plurality of properties, data of a property manager of each of the
plurality of properties, and data as to at least one tenant entity
that occupies space in each of the plurality of properties.
18. The method of claim 17 wherein the step of setting sets in
said database a user profile for at least one user of at least one
of the owner entity, the property manager entity, vendor entity
and the tenant entity for each of the plurality of properties, and
assigning at least one attribute of authority to each said user.
19. The method of claim 1 wherein the property manager entity and
a vendor entity communicate by wireless.
20. The method of claim 1 wherein a user of a tenant entity makes
the request for a service and the request is routed by the tenant
entity to a vendor entity.
21. The method of claim 1 wherein a user of a tenant entity makes
the request for a service to the property manager entity who in
turn routes the request for service to a vendor entity.
22. The method of claim 1 wherein a property manager entity makes
the request for a service directly to a vendor entity.
23. The method of claim 1 further comprising the step of programming
a computer with scheduled requests for service; the computer generating
the requests; and routing the request to a vendor entity.
24. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of establishing
a list of services available for the property in said computer database
and attributing work processes and business rules to the various
services of the list.
25. The method of claim 1 wherein the property is an office building.
26. The method of claim 1 wherein the vendor entity to whom the
request is routed enters the status of fulfillment of the request
into said database that is available to the use of the entity requesting
Real estate description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a workflow system and method to
help organize, automate and facilitate management processes and
communications for owners and managers of real estate properties,
including, without limitation, commercial office buildings. The
system and method are useful for property owners, property managers/building
staff, tenant office managers, and vendors who provide services
to the property. In the system and method, communications preferably
are carried out over the Internet (world wide web).
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Management of commercial real estate, such as apartment complexes,
commercial office buildings, malls and other similar facilities,
is a complex task. Property owner tasks, in addition to satisfying
tenant needs, include managing building space inventory and tracking
lease provisions. Satisfying the needs of tenants includes dealing
with various vendors to make repairs and maintaining the property
premises. Such repairs and maintenance range from emergencies to
relatively mundane tasks like assigning and monitoring cleaning
responsibilities and making repairs (e.g. changing a light bulb).
Heretofore, property management has been performed largely on a
manual basis by the owner/landlord of a property or a management
company employed by the owner. For example, if an employee of a
tenant working in a room of a leased office space decides that s/he
wants a repair, that person often directly calls the landlord or
property manager for the repair. The employee also might call a
vendor directly. Such calls are sometimes done without the approval
of the person at the tenant with the authority to approve such repairs.
These unauthorized calls result in wasted effort and a possible
dispute over the responsibility for repair costs between the landlord
and tenant. This could also result in costs to the landlord in making
Problems also can arise in carrying out a repair assignment. For
example, some buildings maintain and pay for their own repair personnel
while others hire outside contractors or vendors to perform the
work. In either case, the landlord property owner would like to
effect the repair in the most efficient manner at the lowest cost
by either utilizing its own personnel or hiring outside contractors
on the most cost efficient basis.
Management problems become even more complex where the landlord
property owner owns a number of properties in the same city or town
or in different cities, states or countries. In such cases, the
owner may wish to control or monitor, directly or through a property
manager, management of some or all of the properties from a central
location. This would provide the owner with more complete information
as to the status of its properties and better control over management
Heretofore, no system has existed that provided a property owner
or property manager with the capability to carry out the necessary
management functions on a comprehensive basis using computer aided
resources. In particular, a need exists to enable the property owner
or property manager to integrate the management and information
pool relating to a number of properties at various locations for
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The present invention provides a system and method for managing
real estate properties. The system includes a relatively simple
and intuitive computer user interface enabling enhancement of the
workflow and communication processes among owners, property management,
tenants, and vendors associated with a single real estate property
or group of related properties. The invention also provides a secure
and scalable application available from any Internet accessible
device (e.g., computer or telephone) that allows for different levels
of customization and personalization.
In accordance with the invention, a property is assigned an identity,
preferably an Internet domain name. Entity profiles are established
for the property owner, the property manager, tenants of the property
and vendors who are to service the property. Certain information
is entered for each entity, including names, addresses and contact
persons. User profiles are then established for each user of the
system. The profiles include contact information about the user
as well as assigned attributes, which are privileges or limits of
authority granted to users of the system. Attributes manifest themselves
in the system as (1) functions users can perform within the system
and (2) information, usually in computer page form, that each of
the users can view within the system.
The users of the various entities related to a property communicate
and interact with each other, preferably via the Internet. For example,
the office manager of a tenant entity can communicate directly with
a vendor entity to establish a service request, such as a repair.
As a feature of the invention, the request is considered to be valid
only if it is within the limit of the user's authority attribute.
Additionally, a user of a property owner or property manager entity
also can make such requests of a vendor. Regardless of the source
of the request, the system is able to track the fulfillment of the
The system can operate with a number of properties so that a property
owner or property manager of a number of buildings at various locations
can effect management of the building and acquire and assemble data
related to the properties. Such data and the reports generated by
such data will in turn provide property owners and property managers
with information to more effectively and more profitably manage
OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
An object of the invention is to provide a method and system to
automate the management of one or more real estate properties.
Another object is to provide a method and system for management
of one or more properties by which property owners, property managers,
tenants and vendors can communicate and interact with each other
to effectuate property management and maintenance.
A further object is to provide a method and system by which a tenant
in a property, a property owner or manager can initiate service
requests up to authorized limits on the basis of a user profile
that has assigned limits of authority.
Yet another object is to provide a method and system in which a
property owner or property manager, tenants of the property and
vendors interact via computer based data and electronic communications,
preferably over the Internet, to manage one or more properties.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become
more apparent upon reference to the following specification and
annexed drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a flow chart showing the set up and flow of data in the
FIG. 2 is a diagram showing the communications in the system for
a standard service request.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The method and system of the invention includes performance of
a number of functions using a computer. The computer can be of any
conventional type and of the requisite capacity using a conventional
storage and data processing technique. Each user of the system has
access to a computer terminal having the usual display and keyboard.
Data can be stored in a convenient location, either locally at a
property from which it can be accessed or at a location remote from
a property. Certain users of the system can enter data, view data
and access data as described below.
The functions of the method and system are grouped into logical
modules and are discussed below.
I. Administration Module--This includes the functions to set up
and maintain properties, entities (property owner, property manager,
tenants, and vendors) and users (employees of the entities). There
are a number of sub-modules and these and the functions referred
to are defined below. The module also includes processes for a system
user sign in and uploading and management of property site content.
This is shown in the flow chart diagram of FIG. 1, which effectively
is an application program for the system computer.
A. Type of Documents
The administration module of the system uses both static documents
and interactive information.
Static Documents are electronic documents that are not modifiable
directly in the system, but can be created or updated directly in
their native applications. Any pertinent hard copy documents can
be converted to electronic format, and stored in the system in standard
computer format and as PDF, MS Word, or any other applicable format.
Users will be able to access various static documents for viewing,
and uploading new or edited versions, depending on their User Role
The static documents processed by the system include, for example,
contracts and a list of policies and procedures relating to a building.
Contracts would include leases, vendor contracts and policies and
procedures would include construction rules and regulations, emergency
procedures, tenant office policies and procedures, and cleaning
specifications. Other static documents would include employee directories,
drawings of tenant space, preferably in CAD (computer aided design
format), contact lists, and life safety designations. Other similar
types of static documents also can be added to the system. The information
for the documents preferably is developed on a building specific
and building tenant space basis. The tenant space can range from
one room or suite to multiple floors of the building or even the
Interactive Information is generally presented in form documents
that contain active fields for entry of data. Such documents are
hereafter referred to as interactive documents. The data from these
documents may be used in the system processes on an active basis
and can be edited. Interactive information processed by the system
would include, for example, lease abstracts, vendor service contract
abstracts, property management abstracts, insurance certificates,
building directories, employee directories, and stacking plan data.
Key data fields are captured during entity profile and user profile
setup in the Administration module. This process is described below.
The data is associated to property entities within the system and
is accessible based on the user entity role level, as explained
below. Data contained in these fields is used to direct and provide
information to service request workflows and other parts of the
system, e.g., pre-populating fields and choices to help simplify
the user's use of the system.
The computer also is capable of standard reporting functions to
capture and summarize current and historical data from the system.
The interactive information also may contain values to be used
in fee/accounting calculations. It is in a form such that it can
be analyzed and categorized for use in reports, preferably by well
known computer database techniques, such as SQL (structured query
language), sorting, etc.
In summary, the data processing portion of the system provides
the capabilities to: Create Interactive Information Upload Static
Documents Document Viewing/Printing/Searching Document Updating/Editing/Detaching
Update/Edit Interactive Information Upload (updated) Static Documents
Deactivate Interactive Information Unload Static documents Archive
Old Documents (interactive and static)
All of the above are accomplished in a standard computer manner,
such as by an operator entering data on a display screen, storing
entered data on a hard disk locally or remotely and printing out
hard copy reports.
II. Initial Entry Set Up--
As shown in FIG. 1, the system is started in S101. There is a sign-on
step S103; a welcome screen in S105, and the user selects a function
to execute in S107. Set up or maintenance of an entity or user profile
is done in S109. First to be described is the set up of a property
Certain data is entered into the system relative to a particular
property. A property represents the physical location of any type
of property, such as a commercial office building, apartment house,
shopping mall, etc. Associated with a particular property are entities
generally comprising the property owner, property manager, one or
more tenants, one or more contractors and vendors. A profile is
to be set up for each of these entity categories, as selected in
S113. The appropriate screen is displayed for entry of the data
on the selected category.
The actions required to implement the invention include ascertaining
and entering the following data as an interactive data document.
The set up module generates computer data records and includes the
following aspects and functions:
A. Property Profile
To establish a profile for a property that is to use the system,
the following steps are followed in S120:
1. Create a domain for each property location. A property is basically
defined as a single building, apartment complex, or mall. Here,
each property is assigned a domain name that can be implemented
for bi-directional communication over the Internet or by some other
suitable communication medium. This preferably is done in standard
Internet format, e.g., 600 mad.com.
2. Create the property profile. Information is entered into a database
that is specific to the property. This data includes, for example,
the number of floors, suites and associated square footage of a
property. This type of property profile information can be associated
with static documents such as drawings of the offices, floors, etc.,
which also are stored in and available from the computer database.
An important concept to creating a property profile is the concept
of "space". Space is an object that represents the areas
of a property accessible to the various entities interacting with
a property. A space can be one or more suites, floors, elevators,
common conference rooms, gyms, laboratories, loading docks, bathrooms,
hallways, lobbies, etc. The space concept is used to direct service
request workflow described below, and to assign management and ownership
responsibilities to the various property management and ownership
entities related to the property. Information on each space in the
building can be placed on a static or interactive document.
Another important concept relating to a property is the concept
of "lease". A lease represents a section of space within
a property. A space is typically defined by building floor(s) and
associated suite(s). The lease can define, for example, one suite
of rooms on a floor of a building, several floors, suites on different
floors, etc. The lease contains the terms of the space such as rental
rate and square footage. The lease and its associated space is contracted
to one tenant entity. That is, a tenant entity is a data record
of the person or company that is responsible for the lease and the
space related to it. A lease may have sub-tenant entities associated
as well. That is, the original tenant may have subleased the space.
Depending upon the business arrangement, one or both of the original
tenant or sublease tenant can be responsible for the leased space.
All of this data is entered on interactive documents.
The property profile also contains information about its owner,
management, tenants, vendors and operations. Some of the information
is "public" and accessible to anyone who visits the website
for the property. For example, potential tenants can view the "public"
information. Other information is "private" and accessible
only to authorized users who sign into the system and have the appropriate
User Role Category.
B. Create Entity Profiles/Assign Entity Role Categories.
After the property profile has been set up, in S130, entity profiles
are created by assigning Entity Role Categories to the entities
that are associated with the particular property. An Entity Role
Category represents a type of entity that interacts with a property.
Entity Roles are important because User Role Categories are organized
by entity and thus information is associated and categorized within
the system based on the entity profile of a user. For example, users
of a Property Ownership entity (Property Owner Role) will have only
those User Role Categories that pertain to a property owner entity
available to them. This is described below.
In the illustrative embodiment of the invention described, the
system supports six different types of Entity Roles. Fewer or more
Entity Roles can be used. The entity Roles are: system administrator,
property owner, property management, tenant, vendor and outside.
Once an Entity Role Category is assigned to each entity associated
with a particular property, additional information is entered creating
a personalized entity profile for each entity. A more detailed description
of the exemplary different Entity Role Categories is described below.
a. System Administrator. This is defined as the entity that administers
the system for a particular property.
b. Property Owner. This is defined as the managing ownership company
of the property. Typically, multiple individuals and companies own
a property and set up a managing ownership company to own the property
in its name. Data (name, address and contact personnel) is entered
via the user interface and stored in the system's database. This
data can in turn be used to generate interactive documents.
When using the system, property owners are interested in aggregated
information for their building(s) and any impact on operating costs
and revenues. Therefore, their view in the system is primarily focused
on summarized information within the service request and reporting
modules, both of which are described below.
c. Property Manager. The manager can be the property owner. In
some cases, however, a property is not directly managed by the owner
but is managed by a professional management person or company. Here,
the identity of and information relating to the property manager
is entered. The manager entity profile data entry on an interactive
document includes specific information about the manager, such as,
details of personnel, contact points, etc. It should be noted that
the property owner will still have access to the Internet domain
from his property, even if managed by a separate property manager.
Property management staff is more focused on using the system as
an integral tool to manage the property. Consequently, the information
required by a property manager relates to the service request, communication,
administration, building information and reporting modules.
Entities that represent property ownership and property management
may have more than one property operating under the system. The
system can associate property location(s) to a property owner and
property management entity profile. An association between these
entities and each relevant location is made in the system to facilitate
access to multiple properties. The system application program is
structured to minimize redundancy of entry of property owner and
property manager entity profile information and the process of entity
profile set up where multiple properties are involved. That is,
information that is common to a plurality of properties is applied
to all of the properties by one entry. Association of properties
by the system permits the owner of multiple properties the ability
to easily view information concerning all of his properties participating
in the system.
d. Tenant. A tenant is an entity that leases a space in the property.
Here also, information on the name of the tenant and other relevant
data, such as address and primary contact, is entered as data on
an interactive document.
e. Vendor. A vendor is a person or company who provides services
to the building. These can be, for example, plumbers, electricians,
cleaners, etc. The name, address and contact person of each is entered
as data on interactive documents.
f. Outside. A outside entity is a person or company who supports,
interacts or is somehow associated with the other entities who directly
interact with the property. Outside entities are of interest to
distinguish and track, but do not have users associated with the
system. These entities can be, for example, insurance companies
that provide coverage to vendors or guarantors that provide guarantees
of rent for tenants. The name, address and contact person of each
is entered as data on interactive documents.
In FIG. 1, the completion of the set-up of the entities is represented
Table 1 below is an overview of the different Entity Role Categories
supported in the system with an example for each Role.
TABLE-US-00001 TABLE 1 Entity Role Category Example System Administration
Workspeed Inc. Property Owner Lawrence Ruben, Shorenstein Property
Management XYZ Management Co. Tenant Partech, ABC Consulting, BankAmerica
Vendor Bay City Cleaning Services Outside National Guarantor Bank,
III. User Setup Module
A. Creating User Profiles
After the property has been setup, user profiles are created by
assigning User Role Categories to the employees (users) of each
entity associated with that particular property. The User Profile
Set Up Process in S140 of FIG. 1 includes identifying the user,
assigning a User Role Category to a user and describing the lease
Each User Role Category primarily represents a group of attributes.
As stated earlier, attributes are privileges or limits of authority
granted to users of the system and manifest themselves in the system
as (1) functions users can perform within the system and (2) pages
that users can view within the system. A number of attributes available
to users of the system are described below. Other attributes can
be designated and assigned.
The incorporation of User Role Categories enables the system to
drive the workflow processes and other forms of interaction and
maintenance of the system, differently for users within the same
Entity Role Category. For example, there is a difference in authority
and user needs between a leasing agent of a property who is employed
by the property manager of a property and the Chief Engineer of
the property. Both of these users are categorized as users in the
Property Management Entity Role, and in this example they could
work for the same Property Management entity. Within the system
these users have different needs and functions to perform. When
each user's profile is created, a User Role Category is assigned.
The User Role Category can be, for example, an office manager of
a tenant who has responsibility for requesting service from one
or more vendors, a user of an owner who can request information
from the system and can interface with a property manager and tenants.
Users are associated to an entity and an entity may be assigned
multiple Entity Role Categories. For each entity role that an entity
has, users of such entity may have a corresponding User Role Category.
For example: John Smith is a user for the Property Ownership entity
of Smith Inc. Smith Inc. owns the property at 600 Madison and is
also a tenant of the property at 600 Madison. John Smith (user profile)
also is associated to the tenant entity (Smith Inc.). For each of
his roles for the two entity roles (Property Owner and Tenant),
John Smith has an associated User Role Category (i.e., a property
owner User Role Category and a tenant User Role Category).
Table 2 below provides an illustration of the User Role Categories
for the various Entity Roles within a property illustratively called
600 Mad. This diagram is an example. Once all the functionality
associated with the system has been fully designed, the User Role
Categories are assigned sets of attributes.
In Table 2, UR means "user role" and the sequence of
users for these roles is UR-1, UR-2, etc. The abbreviation for the
property owner, property manager, tenant and vendor are "Own",
"Prop.Mgt.", "Ten" and "Ven". In Table
2 the guarantor of a lease is identified as "Out" and
also has a user.
TABLE-US-00002 TABLE 2 Example: Des- Example of User Role cription
of user Role Entity Category Role Category Tenant Benjamin's 600Mad_Ten_UR_1
Office Manager 600Mad_Ten_UR_2 Office Manager Asst 600Mad_Ten_UR_3
Tenant Employee Property Lawrence 600Mad_Own_UR_1 Primary Owner
Owner Ruben Representative 600Mad_Own_UR_2 Secondary Owner Representative
Property XYZ 600Mad_Prop_Mgt.sub.-- Primary Property Management
Management UR_1 Manager 600Mad_Prop_Mgt.sub.-- Property Mgmt. UR_2
Assistant 600Mad_Prop_Mgt.sub.-- Chief Engineer UR_3 Vendor Corporate
600Mad_Ven_UR_1 Manager Cleaning 600Mad_Ven_UR_2 Employee Company
Outside National 600Mad_Out_UR_1 Guarantor Guarantor Bank
If necessary, User Role Categories for a particular property or
for a particular entity can be customized. Additionally, a user's
personalized user profile that has been assigned a particular User
Role Category can be customized by adding or deleting any or all
of the specific attributes listed on Exhibit A. Once created, users
may sign in to use the system in S103 with an identification name
and a password.
Users can perform various functions pertaining to their User Role
Category supported in the system. For example, ABC Consulting (tenant
entity) leases office space in the property (600 Madison). Cindy
is the office manager of ABC Consulting and has been assigned the
600 Mad_Ten_UR.sub.--1 tenant User Role Category. Cindy will be
able to sign into the system and perform the functions associated
with that User Role Category. This is described below in Section
In some cases, user profiles are first established for one primary
user (or a small group of primary users) and such primary user will
in turn create user profiles for his/her staff. Similar to above,
the primary user can select a User Role Category for each user and
add or delete attributes (depending on such user's authority) as
necessary to customize such person's user profile. This is shown
Finally, the system administrator or perhaps the primary user at
a property may implement the processes for uploading and managing
new content to the system used at a property site. These functions
involve implementing updates to the configuration of the system,
shown in FIG. 1, steps 160 170 and include:
Create New Entity Profile
Create New User Profile
Update/Edit an Existing Property Profile
Update/Edit an Existing Entity Profile
Update/Edit an Existing User Profile
View an Existing Property Profile
View an Existing Entity Profile
View an Existing User Profile
Deactivate Property Profile
Deactivate Entity Profile
Deactivate User Profile
B. Attribute Relationships and User Role Categories
As described above, User Role Categories are defined and configured
during the initial set-up process, based on the property and type
of entity, along with the authorization rules. Each authorized user
of the system is assigned a User Role Category. The User Role Category
has a set of attributes mapped to it, that define the capabilities
a given user in a category can perform. For example, a property
manager entity user would have attributes such as lease_create (create
a lease document) lease_activate (activate the lease document) announcement_create
(create an announcement
The system administration for principal user can change attributes,
such as document_property_create (create a property document) document_property_edit
(edit the document)
The list of attributes is tailored to each function to be performed.
In general, each user in the system is assigned one or more attributes,
depending upon the responsibilities that he/she is to have with
respect to interacting with the system.
Consider as an example where a user of a tenant is to be responsible
for creating and sending a service request to Property Management.
This is a process or a series of activities (including creating
and authorizing the request) that need to be completed. In the example,
an attribute for the tenant User Role Categories is "Authorize
Service Requests less than $1000.00". For a tenant to authorize
service request that cost less than $1000.00, they will need to
have this attribute. In other words, the execution of each activity
or process in the system requires that a user's User Role Category
contain the particular attributes related to that activity.
Each attribute has a name and a value. In the example above, the
attribute name is "Authorize Service Request Below a Certain
Cost Value", and it's value is "<$1000.00". During
the installation of the system at a property, the system administrator
doing the installation will define the entire list of attributes
for the system to be used at a property, and assign them to the
various User Role Categories as determined by the needs, responsibilities,
and abilities of users in the entity categories. In turn, these
attributes will define the user interface experience and system
functions that the user is allowed to execute.
Each user of the system is given an identification (ID). Such user's
personalized user profile corresponds to the user ID. During sign
in/validation of the user ID, all the User Role Categories (as well
as any added/deleted attributes) associated with that user profile
are returned and displayed. Such user profile presents the user
with the attributes available to him/her during his session of use.
Cindy is the tenant office manager for ABC Consulting, a tenant
at the property 600 Madison. The Entity Role Category for Cindy
is Tenant, and her User Role Category is 600 Mad_Ten_UR.sub.--1,
showing that she is the tenant office manager. One of Cindy's responsibilities
is approving service requests initiated by tenant employees of ABC.
Cindy is authorized to approve service requests that cost up to
$1000.00. In order to accomplish this task, the "Authorize
Service Requests less than $1000.00" attribute is mapped to
her User Role Profile (600 Mad_Ten_UR.sub.--1). If an employee of
ABC asks Cindy to have a repair made, Cindy can use the system and
make the request to a vendor, described below, so long as the request
is for less than $1,000.
There can be customization of the attributes for the various users
at the property level, the entity level and/or at the user level.
If a user that belongs to a certain User Role Category at a specific
property location or at a certain entity, or if a specific user
on the system at a specific property location, requires specialized
attributes, the administrator team installing or a principal user
administering the system will be able customize the attribute set
mapped to (a) the User Role Category (if at the property or entity
level) or (b) such user's personalized user profile (if at the user
From research performed for a specific property, it has been determined
that a reasonable value for the "Authorize Service Requests
Below a Certain Cost Value" attribute, for the tenant office
managers User Role Category (Ten.sub.13 UserRole_A), is $1000.00.
However, during the implementation at 600 Madison, it is discovered
that all tenant office managers at this property need the ability
to approve service requests that cost up to $2000.00. To meet this
requirement, the system administrator or owner/property manager
principal user modifies the set of attributes for tenant office
managers at 600 Madison (property profile level). Specifically,
the system administrator or principal use system administrator or
principal user would change the "Authorize Service Request
Below a Certain Cost Value" attribute value to "<$2000.00".
Since the User Role set of attributes for tenant office managers
at 600 Madison has been modified, the original set of attributes
defined for the general tenant office manager User Role Category
for each entity at 600 Madison will be overridden.
In an extension of the above example, it is discovered that all
tenant office managers of a particular entity need the ability to
authorize service requests that cost up to $2,500.00. To meet this
requirement, the owner/property manager principal user or system
administrator would modify the set of attributes for this particular
tenant entity at 600 Madison at the entity level. Specifically,
they would change the "Authorize Service Request Below a Certain
Cost Value" attribute value to "<$2,500.00". Since
the User Profile set of attributes for this particular tenant office
manager at 600 Madison has been modified, it will override the previously
modified User Role Category set of attributes at the property level.
In a further extension of the above example, it is discovered that
a particular tenant office manager, Sarah, needs the ability to
authorize service requests that cost up to $3000.00 (but the other
office managers for that same tenant are only authorized up to $2,500).
To meet this requirement, the owner/property manager principal user
or system administrator would modify the set of attributes for this
particular tenant office manager user at 600 Madison at the user
level. Specifically, they would change the "Authorize Service
Request Below a Certain Cost Value" attribute value to "<$3000.00".
Since the user profile for this particular user has been modified,
it will override the previously modified User Role Category set
of attributes (at the property level), the previously modified User
Role Category set of attributes (at the entity level), and the original
set of attributes defined for the general tenant office manager
User Role Category.
The following lists the relationship between User Role Category,
user role and user profile.
TABLE-US-00003 User Profile UR Category UR Category UR Category
(User level) (Entity Level) (Ppy Level) (Original Set) Attributes
Attributes Attributes Attributes -Names .rarw. Overrides -Names
.rarw. Overrides -Names .rarw. Overrides - Names -Values -Values
The following set of rules is adopted:
The attribute set mapped to the User Profile overrides the attribute
set of the User Role Category at the Entity Role Category level,
which overrides the attribute set of the User Role Category at the
Property Profile level, which overrides the original attribute set
of the User Role Category.
A single user can have different User Role Categories but only
one user profile at the same property.
A single user can have the same entity role, and the same User
Role Category at different properties with the same or different
A single user cannot have different User Role Categories for the
same Entity for multiple properties (since Entities are tied to
the property). If the user needs different functionality at different
properties, then the attribute to User Role Category mapping can
be customized on an exception basis.
The following table sets forth several examples of this grouping
and mapping process for several users as related to several properties.
TABLE-US-00004 TABLE 3 Entity Role User Role User name Property
Entity Category Category Attributes MaricaM 600 Madison Rubenco
Property PM_User_Role_A Attribute Set 1 Manager MaricaM 1 Dag Rubenco
Property PM_User_Role_A Attribute Set 1 Manager RichardR 600 Madison
Rubenco Owner OW_User_Role_A Attribute Set 2 MaricaM 600 Madison
Rubenco Tenant TN_User_Role_B Attribute Set 3 CamachoM 1000 Fifth
Newark Property PM_User_Role_A Attribute Set 4 Avenue Manager In
the above, PM = property manager; OW = Owner and TN = Tenant.
IV. Service Module
Service Request. One of the features of the system is to enable
certain authorized users of a property to initiate service requests
to property owners or property managers using an Internet-based
tool and a standard process. By integrating the Internet and wireless
technology, the system facilitates the communication between the
user at a property initiating a service request, on the one hand,
such as a tenant, property owner or property manager, and, on the
other hand, the vendor user(s) responsible for fulfilling the request.
The system also enhances the overall experience associated with
submitting a service request by providing point-in-time status on
all service requests. Further, the system provides the property
owner or property manager with the capability to associate costs
and detail information to all service requests initiated and fulfilled
within a property site.
A. Create or Update a Service Request. In using the system, there
are various actions that initiate a service request, including any
updates to existing service requests, the ability to view or print
a service request, canceling an existing request and accessing completed/archived
service requests. Preventative Maintenance requests (scheduled),
include Ad Hoc service requests (requests created by the property
engineering staff). Various types of service requests are shown
in Table 4 below. In Table 4, a shared resource request is one that
applies to a common service that can be used by all of the tenants
of a building, like use of a freight elevator.
TABLE-US-00005 TABLE 4 Shared Type of Service Immediate Resource
Request Service Request Description Request Request 1. Lighting
Repair, adjustment or replacement of lighting X fixtures or associated
parts/materials 2. Comfort Temperature adjustment to specific areas
of X (Heat/Cool) the building 3. Freight Elevator Reserve the freight
elevator X 4. Building Reserve conference center space X Conference
Center 5. Loading Dock Reserve loading dock space X 6. HVAC OT Designate
time for air conditioning after normal business hours 7. Electrical
Repair, adjustment or replacement of X electrical parts/materials
8. Janitorial/Extra Specified cleaning other than scheduled X Cleaning
cleaning service 9. Trash / Rubbish Removal and/or disposal of trash
other than X scheduled pick up 10. Plumbing Repair or replacement
of plumbing X parts/materials 11. Doors / Install, repair, adjustment
or replacement of X Equipment building doors or building equipment
12. Security New/cancelled security passes or specified X security
need 13. Restroom Repair or replacement of restroom supplies X supplies
and/or equipment 14. Valet Parking Car retrieval or specified need
associated to X building parking 15. Elevator Repair of elevator
equipment X Breakdown 16. General Repair Repair and maintenance
requests that fall X /Maintenance outside of the specified SR types
17. Preventative Recurring activities required for the Recurring
Maintenance maintenance of the building. (Weekly, (to come) Monthly,
Annually, etc.) 18. Other All other requests that fall outside of
the X specified types
Within the set of attributes assigned to a user can be a set that
includes the particular service requests that a user can originate.
For example, the attribute set can include one such as:
meaning that the user can authorize a service request for lighting,
shown as 1 in Table 4. The user can be given unrestricted access
to authorize all types of service requests or on certain ones from
the list of Table 4, or other types of service requests.
Service requests are sent, tracked, fulfilled and communicated
in a web-based application. In the service request module, interactive
documents are used and the functions achieved by creating or editing
a document include:
1. Create a Service Request--an interactive document is displayed.
The user making the request selects a type of service needed from
a list similar to that above. A list of vendors that can perform
the needed services is then displayed. The vendor is selected and
the request is made and transmitted to the vendor over the Internet.
The request indicates the dollar limit authorization of the person
who made the request. The vendor can accept the request, reject
it, or request modification. This can all be done via the Internet.
2. Update an existing Service Request--here the user making a request
can: Add additional information to an existing Service Request Update
the status or information specific to the completion of a Service
Request (workflow system updates automatically) Cancel an existing
3. View or Print a Service Request an Existing Service Request
a Closed Service Request
4. Authorize a new Service Request
5. Request additional information on a Service Request
6. Delegate a Service Request (within Property Mgmt group) Sign
Off on a Service Request All of these are done by entering and editing
data on an interactive document display screen.
B. Fulfillment Workflow. The system provides the owner or property
manager with information regarding the fulfillment of such a requirement
by a vendor. That is, the system provides a fulfillment of the workflow
that includes all the actions within the system once a service request
has been created or updated.
The system provides for the routing/assignment of a service request
to the appropriate individuals (authorized users) for authorization
and completion of actions required to fulfill the request. The request
routed to a vendor includes the business rules (such as time of
completion work to be performed) and routing logic for the requester
to the vendors (user) completing the request.
An authorized user at the vendor entity enters data into the system
indicating the status of the work request. For example, the vendor
user with the proper authorization (attribute) can enter when the
job was started and its current status if interim reports are required.
When completed, this information also is entered and, if needed,
the price charged indicated. All of this information is transmitted,
primarily and preferably over the Internet, to the database of the
property for which the service was performed. It is available for
review by the property owner or property manager. Price information
charged to fulfill the service request can be copied to a data file
to provide a running total of the charges made to a tenant or property.
The property owner can monitor cost outlays for the property. This
is done by the appropriate user of the entity having the proper
attributes (assigned attributes). Typical, exemplary attributes
would be: Sr_view_inspection Sr_view_cost_estimate Sr_create_cost_estimate
Sr_prioritize Sr_can approve_estimate Sr_can accept Sr_can complete
There are sub-components of the process for making and completing
a service request. Depending on the variability of the request,
some actions associated to sub-components of the workflow process
may be skipped. The defined business rules drive these processes.
The integration of other communication tools to support the completion
of a service request and meet the primary objectives of the system
service request process include the use of e-mail, wireless devices
and other tools that can be used to supplement the overall process
of making and fulfilling a service request.
V. Building Operations Module
The objective of the Building Operations module is to benefit the
Property Management user constituency, by providing a centralized,
easy to use process that coordinates and automates the tasks surrounding
the maintenance and monitoring activities for the property. The
Building Operations module serves as a hub for coordinating:
Building Preventative Maintenance activities. There are scheduled,
recurring activities, that are necessary to maintain the physical
building, including it's facilities, equipment, grounds, amenities,
and systems. The workflow and physical tasks required to execute
these activities mirror those of standard service requests, except
for the initiation process. While a standard service request is
initiated by a system user, preventative maintenance activities
are triggered by a prompt from a Preventative Maintenance Activity
Profile. These requests or reminders are automatically generated
and transmitted to the appropriate vendor. Profiles are set up by
the property management staff (most likely the property Chief Engineer)
to define the maintenance activity, the individual responsible for
performing the activity, the time that the activity should be performed,
the frequency of execution, and the prompting method.
Building Monitoring activities. Monitoring activities are similar
to the preventative maintenance activities, except that the equipment
and meter readings are monitored and recorded, instead of maintenance
activities being executed.
Automated Logs. The system includes automated logs to track property
management personnel activities, equipment status, Fire Warden items,
For example, an owner/manager/tenant entity authorized user can
contact a selected vendor to check availability of staff to perform
a service request and/or to assign the job. In other cases, the
user may wish to contact all of the vendors at the same time if,
for example, the user wanted to post a request for bids on a job
or availability for emergency job performance, or to provide general
information. A vendor can acknowledge acceptance or rejection of
a job, communicate to negotiate price information, etc., by accessing
the system over the Internet.
Automated updates to the building security system regarding changes
in building residents.
BACKGROUND: Frequently, the list of authorized people who have
access to a building becomes obsolete. In order to update the list,
the property owner or property manager may decide to cancel all
access badges and reissue them. This process is both inconvenient
to the tenants and costly to the owner.
The system can create an automated tenant log that can be compared
to the security roster. This log can be seamlessly integrated into
the building security system.
The data from the log can be used to build a confirmation process
from security of the building to the tenant office manager. The
process would check on expiring building passes to verify if they
are still valid. If the tenant office manager fails to confirm the
validity of the building pass, security can cancel the pass. This
process would reduce cost for the property owner and be less inconvenient
for the tenant.
Automated Vacancy Credit Notification and Report
BACKGROUND: Owners enter into a contract with a cleaning company
to clean the whole building (@ approx. $2/foot). The cleaning company
and owner sign a contract, and provide a cleaning specification.
The contract contains a vacancy credit provision, meaning the building
gets money back for spaces not cleaned (e.g. when a tenant moves
The system sets up an automatic method of providing notice to the
cleaning company when tenants are leaving the building (potentially
30 days advance notice). By establishing a record of the notice,
the cleaning company cannot later claim they were not told about
the vacancy and charge the property owner for unnecessary services.
The system can also create and send a vacancy credit report each
month to the property owner, property manager and vendor. This feature
helps maximize revenue for the owner by ensuring that the appropriate
monthly vacancy credit is applied.
Automated Insurance Certificate Expiration Tracking and Reminders
Insurance certificates usually must be maintained for all tenants
and vendors who come into the building. These certificates are required
before vendors can proceed with a job and before tenants can move
into a building. Keeping track of the certificates can be a difficult
and time-consuming task in a large office building and yet it is
vital from a risk perspective that all certificates are current.
Using the system, a log/reminder is set up to track each tenant
and vendor's insurance certificate. This makes it easier for the
property owner or property manager to track the validity of the
insurance certificates and helps reduce the risk of having a tenant
or vendor working in the building without a valid insurance certificate.
The insurance certificates can be maintained at static or interactive
Communications--since all properties are connected to the Internet,
there can be announcement and messaging functions to facilitate
communication among the different users of the system.
Making announcements affords property managers and owners the ability
to "publish" a public announcement to all users of the
system at a specific property location. A one to two line announcement
summary will appear on key screens of the user interface. Users
can then click to access detailed information provided in the announcement.
Specific functionality for the announcement feature includes:
Viewing, Creating, Saving Draft, Deleting Draft, Publishing, Expiring,
Filing and Publishing via e-mail.
Sending messages allows system users the ability to create, send
and track messages to other system users and/or to individuals and
companies who do not use the system. Specific functionality for
Ability to use dynamically created address lists from the system,
based on the users role category.
In addition to the above features, all system participants can
add, edit, and delete private e-mail addresses.
Customer Service--Includes functions to facilitate communication
with the system administrator, who can be an outside vendor, and
the ability for all users to provide feedback on the system.
Communication. FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram illustrating
the communication aspect of the system. Each of the blocks 10 represents
a property that is enrolled in the system. As explained above, each
such property has an Internet domain name. Block 12 represents the
landlord or property manager who can be on the premises of an enrolled
property 10 or at a remote location. In the embodiment described
in FIG. 2, it is assumed that the same owner entity owns, or the
same property manager entity manages, a number of properties 10.
The method and system can be applied to a single property.
There is a computer database 14. This can be at the site of the
property owner/manager of an enrolled property or there can be a
database at each property 10. The database, using any suitable conventional
database management technique, stores all of the data previously
The system has a communications system 16, preferably the Internet.
The communication link is multi-directional so that there is communication
between each property and its owner, between properties, between
users at a property and vendors, etc. As explained above, each property
has a domain name and is connected to the Internet, thus providing
universal communication between those using the system.
Reference numeral 20 indicates various outside vendors, such as
repair and supply vendors who also have communication with the owner/manager
12 and any of the properties. The vendors each can have a domain
name and be accessible over the Internet. Alternatively, a vendor
can be accessible to a user of the system such as by e-mail or telephone.
There is bi-directional communication between the property owner/manager,
tenant entities and the vendors.
The authorized associate with a property, which can be a user of
a property owner/manager or tenant, contacts the vendor 20 on a
universal or selected basis. The vendor is provided access to the
database 14 on a selective basis to view certain documents, such
as property rules, drawings, etc.
Specific features of the invention are shown in one or more of
the drawings for convenience only, as each feature may be combined
with other features in accordance with the invention. Alternative
embodiments will be recognized by those skilled in the art and are
intended to be included within the scope of the claims. All patent
applications, patents, patent publications, and literature references
cited in this specification are hereby incorporated by reference
in their entirety. In the case of inconsistencies, the present description,
including definitions, is intended to control. Accordingly, the
above description should be construed as illustrating and not limiting
the scope of the invention. All such obvious changes and modifications
are within the patented scope of the appended claims.