November 13, 2018 10:00AM

6 News-Worthy Notes from the MRI International User Conference

The MRI International User Conferences (IUC) keep getting better, and the Oct. 14-17 MRI IUC in Atlanta truly outdid itself. With 111 learning sessions and more than 1,400 attendees, it’s largest conference yet. What helped set this conference apart from other MRI IUCs was it’s keynote speaker, Aron Ralston, who delivered a powerful speech about resilience. Some of you may recall Ralston from his canyoneering accident where he had to amputate his forearm to free himself from a boulder that trapped him in a canyon for six days. A movie was later made about him called “127 hours” featuring James Franco. His story was truly inspiring to hear firsthand.

At the October conference, MRI shared that it plans to continue meeting its commitments to improve its software and functionality for its users: MRI shared that it has increased its investments in support twofold; offers more than 140 MRI Flix support videos; has reduced its backlog of support by 33 percent; and has increased its research and development by nearly four times.

Beyond support and investing in research and development, we’ve compiled a list of six product highlights focused on what’s new and what’s in the pipeline for MRI:

1. Job Cost Enhancements

MRI’s Job Cost software is improving significantly with quicker data entry, better searches, and better data visibility: The Entity ID, Phase Code, and Cost list now default down from previous row making data entry more seamless and rapid to perform; cost lists can now be searched by Job and Cost list descriptions for enhanced search functionality; it also shows the total draws to date as well as amounts remaining for improved data visibility.

Additionally, invoices are now created from Consolidated Draw Processing and Retainage adheres to the “Duplicate Invoice Validation” management option.

2. CRE Updates

MRI’s CRE (corporate real estate) updates were the talk of the conference. You can now can set up, import, or update lease data in CRE via the Contract Detail Update worksheet as well as create payment schedules via the Payments Schedule Alerts page; map accounts can be used in journal entries; there are new fields, pages, and processes within CRE; the software also offers new and additional Lease Types and payment schedules, additional features for lease notes, new AP and general ledger integrations and IR fixes and usability enhancements.

Finally, we thought it would be important to mention the new accounting standards we learned of at the conference: Lease obligations must be disclosed on the lessee’s balance sheet effective 2019 for public companies and 2020 for private companies.

3. A Clear Focus For Fixed Assets

MRI acquired the company Real Asset Management (RAM), a supplier of asset management software, in 2017. Today, RAM has been fully integrated with MRI 10.5 and the Fixed Asset module—enhancing it to deliver a comprehensive fixed asset accounting solution that enables MRI’s commercial, residential, and affordable clients to better manage accounting, maximize tax benefits, improve compliance, and increase the ROI of their assets.

At the MRI IUC’s Fixed Asset Breakout Session, MRI shared that it believes its Fixed Asset solutions should focus on Invoice Entry, Job Cost, and Journal Entry and could be best achieved with these developments now in the works: User security, report enhancements, and API support multi-currency.

4. Residential Management Plans for 2019

With lots of questions about MRI Workspeed, MRI’s End-to-end real estate operations management software, we wanted to give you a heads up about what’s next for residential management. One plan is to offer event-based and flexible bill dates so tenants can choose when to be billed. Option include annual, monthly, and daily rates. Similar to commercial, step-ups of multi-year leases and alternate stop dates will be also rolled out this coming year; while this feature is available abroad, it has not yet been implemented stateside, so we are looking forward to this enhancement. Additionally, multi-factor authorization for Resident Check will, in theory, be available in the first quarter of 2019 as well as reporting and single sign on for the Resident Connect/Residential Management integration.

Other neat features to be released in 2019 include an international credit check, which will allow applicants who just moved to the US to pick his or her country of origin and enter their comparable SSN to ease the application process; and a voice recognition software for CallMax, so prospects can receive automated leasing information specific to their questions even after work hours. Lastly, MRI is working on a lead management prototype, but not much else was reported at the conference.

5. Simplifying With Single Sign On

As MRI began roadmapping the future of its ecosystem, the need to standardize and implement a single sign on (SSO) became apparent. MRI recognizes the need to streamline the process for MRI users using multiple systems. Thus, MRI has partnered with OKTA, a SSO system and integrations company, to make this come to fruition. While no timeline was disclosed, MRI shared that its long-term goal is to become a one-stop shop: a web-based browser login for all apps—what they are calling “seamless sign on.” But, but MRI’s short-term goal is to begin standardizing logins so that they can easily merge the user identities into one sign-on at a later date. Login standardizations coming soon include: Debt Management, Qube, Market Connect, and Resident/Tenant Connect.

6. Continued Investing In Investment Management

MRI is using the software engine gained with the Cougar acquisition and building out a full investment management suite. Modules they intend on improving in the immediate future include Asset Modeling, Debt Modeling, Find Modeling, Investment Accounting, Investment Central, Investor Connect, and Valuations. But, the first one to be completed and deployed is Debt 2.0, which was released in October and includes single sign on, general ledger restful API, OKTA single sign on, a data repository, a debt calculation engine, charge and loan type configuration, an amortization report, summary page and chart, global daily rates, and auto-journal creation.

In the next 12 months, MRI expects to release: AP automation and Corporate AR integration; inter-entity journal entries; budget and forecast integration; multi-currency; future journals; import rates and schedules; column filters; metrics and visualization; and enhanced journal entries and validation back to the general ledger.

Also in development, but likely won’t hit the product until after 2019 is: Debt Planning, Risk Management, an enhanced version of debt management; Corporate Management and Residential Management integration; additional reporting and visualization; budgeting and forecasting integration based on cash flow; and interest rate and refinance scenarios.

Casino Royale: MRI Edition

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, Nexus, Visa, and REdirect co-hosted a killer rooftop party at the Ventanas with a James Bond theme: License to Thrill. Between 400 and 500 were in attendance, all dressed in casino chic attire including Nexus and REdirect staff and  many clients, prospects, and other conference goers. One of our principals, Josh Malinoff, arrived in style—by helicopter, which stayed at the party and provided free helicopter rides for clients.

This grand soiree with its many martinis—shaken, not stirred—was one of the many amazing aspects of the MRI IUC in Atlanta this October. We enjoyed learning about what’s to come from MRI and look forward to helping our clients implement and learn these new features and functionality!