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August 24, 2022 11:00AM

MRI B&F: Broad and Flexible

We are now into the third quarter of 2022, and many companies are thinking ahead to their 2023 budgets and 2022 forecasts. 

As always, real estate is not just about physical buildings. Organizations need to consider a multitude of variables when setting up their finances for the upcoming year. You might be asking yourself questions such as:

  • How will Covid-19 variants continue to impact our business? 
  • Will the inflation rate continue to rise, or will it plateau? 
  • Will geopolitical conflicts continue to drive up energy prices? 
  • How will stock market stability impact our portfolios?

In a world of uncertainty, organizations need tools that offer the flexibility to account for a wide variety of scenarios. MRI’s Budgeting and Forecasting (B&F) module is one such tool. In today’s post, we will explore the robust features of this software add-on and how it can streamline your budgeting process for the new year.

Ease of Use 

MRI’s Budgeting and Forecasting module integrates with existing MRI data to allow users to load information from multiple areas of MRI into budget workbooks quickly and easily. 

With just a few clicks, users can pull in General Ledger (GL) actuals, current and past budgets, Commercial Management (CM) leases, Residential Management (RM) leases, and more. This preloaded data is at a user’s fingertips throughout the process, simplifying budget entry and processing by eliminating the need to reference multiple sources.

With MRI B&F, General Ledger data loads directly into the budget for quick reference. Users do not need to refer to multiple reports or keep multiple windows open while working in order to see current and past year data trends. 

GL data can also be divided across multiple workbooks to include different areas of business such as general and administrative expenses (G&A), Taxes and Insurance, Capital, and so on. While only one person at a time can edit a workbook, dividing the GL part of the budget into several workbooks allows each one to be viewed and edited concurrently. All of this can facilitate faster and more accurate budget submissions.

Commercial and Residential Management data loads into the budget in an interface very similar to the Commercial and Residential Management modules, which you may already be familiar with. This allows property managers to perform everyday tasks within the budget, from renewing leases to updating recurring charges or recoveries to processing move-outs. Property managers simply need to input the data into MRI, and the budget will calculate and translate that data into budgeted revenue.

Flexibility

MRI’s B&F software allows for the creation of multiple scenarios, giving organizations the ability to forecast finances in even the most uncertain of times. 

Do you want to see what your budget will look like with a 1.5% increase over the prior year? This is easily achieved with a couple clicks. But wait, do you believe that utilities may see a rise of 2%? No problem. You can apply inflation across individual accounts within the GL workbook to estimate this additional expense. 

Then, after review, you can post to the GL only the budget scenario that you believe best reflects the upcoming year. The remaining scenarios will still be available in B&F for future reference.

Perhaps you have leasing assumptions that you routinely utilize for opportunities. These can be created in Budgeting and Forecasting and then applied to prospective tenants within the CM revenue workbook. This eliminates repetitive data entry and time-consuming setup.

Recoveries, management fees, and leasing costs can also be adjusted in B&F without having any impact on the production CM data. Alternatively, a budget can be created using only current data, without applying any renewal assumptions, to reflect a situation in which only that current data moves forward into the new year.

Reforecasting

There are a number of ways in which a user can quickly and easily set up a new reforecast budget from an approved budget: users can create reforecast budgets from existing Budgeting and Forecasting budgets, and new budgets can be created using copies of existing B&F budgets or using existing GL budgets. 

In just a few steps, a user can copy an existing budget over to a new scenario. Budgets can also be imported into B&F from Excel. The tractability of the B&F module is one of its greatest strengths, allowing it to accommodate almost any business need.

Security and Access 

MRI Budgeting and Forecasting has its own security protocols. This means you can control which users can edit each workbook, while offering other users view-only access. 

Users with either access level can also be assigned view-only access for workbooks which are not checked out to them. This includes workbooks in which another user is actively working. This functionality permits real-time collaboration between users while eliminating the risk of conflicting edits.

B&F security also makes the approval process easy. Workbooks within a budget can be approved individually without full budget approval. Alternatively, if a user has the additional security access to do so, the full budget can be approved all at once. This allows for a layered approval process involving all relevant stakeholders at the appropriate stages, if needed. 

Using the Additional Access options within the MRI Security Console, you can also grant users the ability to create a B&F workbook, delete a B&F workbook, reload or modify budgets in batches, post a budget to the GL, or approve and reject budgets.

Thoughtful security setup according to user roles allows complete control over who can do what. This setup helps to build internal workflows around the budget and approval processes, with each individual’s role clearly defined for auditing and tracking purposes.

Reliability

The real power of MRI Budgeting and Forecasting lies in the setup. A solid setup process will facilitate multiple smooth budget seasons with few to no adjustments required. As you implement MRI B&F into your processes, users will build familiarity with the product and learn to rely on the consistency it provides. 

The same features that users will come to rely on will also be embraced by your management team when they see the benefits they bring. This includes a selection of reports which can be run to include budget notes for internal review. Another popular report, the Annual Budget Comparison, can be set up to include up to two different years of actuals, one GL budget, and one B&F budget, which serves as a handy resource to identify trends.

Need More Information?

Whether you are interested in a new implementation or just wondering if your budgeting and forecasting process has room for improvement, we are here to help. Our team has decades of combined experience in implementing, using, and making the most of real estate software tools such as MRI B&F and many others. 

Contact one of our MRI consultants today and let our expertise help ease your workload.

It's fantastic to have REdirect come in, understand our business, understand our people and how they operate, and then help us choose the right implementation.

Kelly Lynch – Senior Managing Director

Bernstein Management Corporation

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