Employees of real estate companies frequently think in terms of "projects". It comes as no surprise that a majority of companies think in terms of "projects" (E-mail implementation, web site development, high speed Internet access, etc.) for their IT systems. As a result of this project style of thinking, IT and its related funding typically follow the real estate boom and bust cycle. Many "projects" are limited to automating the data capture and reporting processes within a company. For example, IT might be used to automate the process of producing construction budgets, writing commitments and tracking payments to vendors. IT funding typically only occurs during one or, at most two, of the real estate cycles. With limited and inconsistent funding, few companies are able to achieve high level goals with their IT systems.
Successful real estate companies use an "investment" vs. a "project" related approach to their IT systems. The "investment" approach provides IT funding during all three phases of the real estate boom and bust cycle. Even in a down cycle, successful companies use IT to reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies. Through higher end connectivity solutions, an employee in the field might be able to electronically transmit up-to-date information to an IT system in the corporate office. The information is updated real time and provides management with information not readily available anywhere else. This long-term approach to IT "investment" supports the company′s long-term goals and objectives. Companies using the "investment" approach are able to move beyond IT basics and achieve a competitive advantage in their marketplaces.