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From Site Selection magazine, January 2012

Partners in Progress

Alcoa and Fischer have forged a longtime technology partnership.

Fischer & Co.’s CREDashboard gives clients a global view of their portfolio.

lcoa, the world's leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum, has a massive real estate portfolio of more than 115 million sq. ft. (more than 10.6 million sq. m.) at 200-plus locations in more than 30 countries. Alcoa requires robust technology to oversee its broad holdings, and has had a longtime relationship with Dallas-based Fischer & Co., a corporate real estate services company that also specializes in technology.

In fact, Alcoa served as the beta test company for Fischer's technology. The company uses Fischer's ManagePath and CREDashboard technologies.

ManagePath provides a comprehensive data management system. The CREDashboard is a single control panel from which all relevant information pertaining to corporate real estate management can be seen, understood and acted upon. 

"It has made us extremely more efficient with real-time information," says Jim Winter, global manager for corporate real estate at the Pittsburgh-based company. "Any of my businesses can call me and we can take a snapshot of a property. A lot of systems can't do that. We were the very first user of the system which was developed with input from us as to what we thought would be more efficient. It has worked very well for us and we are very happy with it. It's been the same with the Dashboard. We worked with them [Fischer] on it and it has helped with our strategic planning. They really wanted the input from us."

Winter says the Fischer technology helps with the unique situations characteristic of a large multinational.

"They are able to take that information and develop what we need," Winter says. "It's a great relationship we have with sharing information. We like to think at Alcoa that we are on the cutting edge of a lot of things and are visionary and forward-thinking. Fischer shares that outlook, so it has really worked well for us. I look at other systems all the time when they present information to me, but Fischer does everything that we could want it to do."

Core Strength

Fischer and Co. started developing its technologies in 1986.

"To our knowledge, we are the oldest developer of corporate real estate systems that are PC-based," says Cliff Fischer, the company's chairman and CEO. "We've been in this space for 25 years."

Fischer & Co.'s technology has evolved through the years, rolling out Internet-based technology around 2000 and adopting the name ManagePath.

"It's a strong project and transaction management system that remains the core foundation of our technology today," Fischer says. "The day-to-day of what we are is really strong lease accounting capabilities and the ability to be Sarbanes-Oxley compliant. We are an industry leader in our ability to manage data the right way. Our Dashboard technology easily integrates data from human resources, finance and any other aspects of the corporation they want to integrate."

Fischer describes his company's mapping technology, which is used to manage data associated with a location, as revolutionary. Several new tools are in development for patents, he says.

"We have been developing strategies since 1985." Fischer says. "The other side of our company is a services firm, and it's the core of our large relationships. We are constantly driving strategy and partnering with our clients. Our ideas are driven out of the portfolios we manage. We are able to adapt and respond very quickly to our clients' needs by being in control of technology development. It's a really unique component of our firm. The challenge in developing software is that you have to develop very real solutions. It's not just a one-time build. You have to live with it every day and be as passionate with technology as you are about delivering real estate services."

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