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Equity Residential doesn’t own boardwalk or Park Place, but if it were playing Monopoly, the Chicago-based company would manage much of the surrounding prime real estate.

So when the company, which manages more than 1,000 prime properties across 35 states, decided last year to convert several of its apartment buildings into condominiums, it made sense, especially considering the real estate boom at the time.

But Equity Residential realized fairly quickly that the condo sales strategy wouldn’t pass “Go” without a new IT system in place.

The company had used Microsoft Corp.’s Excel to track condo sales, pricing and reporting and Microsoft Word as the foundation for documents, but there was no central means for culling and analyzing cumulative sales data.

What the $1.8 billion property management company needed was a new CRM (customer relationship management) system that could handle functions such as tracking condo sales leads and identifying which marketing tactics were generating the best leads; monitoring the entire sales cycle for each condo unit; streamlining the documentation and paperwork required for sales closings; and tracking the inventory status of each condo unit (sold, pending and so on).

Equity Residential reached out to local solutions providers, seeking an IT partner that could design such a system using Microsoft CRM, the software company’s fledgling package for midsize businesses. However, two solutions providers tried—and failed.

Then came Sonoma Partners LLC, a Chicago-based solutions provider that designs IT systems for small and midsize customers, typically those with 25 to 500 employees. In addition to serving the real estate sector, Sonoma’s vertical-market focus includes manufacturing, health and personal care, and professional sports.

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