Technology impacts pretty much every aspect of our lives today, and essentially every industry is trying to use technology to drive greater efficiencies, improve analytics and data accuracy, and streamline the business. Despite a reputation for being outdated and even “stuck in the past”, the commercial real estate industry is no different. This historically underserved industry even has a buzzword to describe real estate technology: PropTech. Influencer and thought leader James Dearsley describes the term as “one small part of a wider digital transformation in the property industry, which considers both the technological and mental change of the real estate industry”. CRE professionals are increasingly aware of the positive impacts technology can provide and looking for ways to leverage these innovations.
So, the situation stands that new technology and solutions have entered the CRE market to alleviate common business challenges, and CRE professionals are eager to deploy this technology within their firms. However, it’s not always that easy. New technology often requires a fresh way of thinking, leaving “overcoming the status quo” as one of the most common hurdles. After all, it’s easier to do nothing than to do something that may introduce risk and/or upset existing processes. Thus, it’s critical to create a strong business case, which emphasizes the transformative impact of the new technology, the urgency to act, and the cost of not taking action.
Step 1: Outline the Challenges
If you can’t demonstrate the value new technology would have for your firm, why would it even be a consideration? Compile a list of top challenges (i.e. frequent inconsistencies or inaccuracies in calculations, too many manual processes, limited insight into investor activities, etc) and outline the impact these inefficiencies are having on the bottom-line. Are you losing money? Are you struggling to grow and scale the company? Are you receiving poor feedback from clients?
Step 2: Determine How New Technology Will Fit into Existing Processes
Investor management software isn’t just another tool – it becomes an integral part of strategic business objectives. But before you implement new technology, you need to understand current processes. What works and what doesn’t? Where are there gaps or roadblocks? You will also want to consider metrics such as the amount of time spent on waterfalls or responding to client communications. These numbers will give you benchmarks to quantifiably measure and assess the success of your technology initiative later on. Now, map out how your new CRE tech would fit in and drive efficiencies across the company.
Step 3: Get Buy-In from Key Stakeholders
Without buy-in from leaders and potential power users, it will be difficult to move the project forward or achieve successful adoption once on-boarded. Clearly explain the benefits and ROI of the new tooling, describe how it will address internal pain points, and outline how it will be incorporated into the day-to-day. Later on, these internal champions can help promote the software and encourage usage amongst their peers.
Further, it is important for each person involved from each department to align on short-term and long-term goals for the investor management software, as well as key metrics to measure success. This will also serve to set expectations for users and help to hold them accountable.
Step 4: Establish the Plan
Lay out the timeline, determine required resources, and identify milestones. This sort of dedication to project management will ensure you see value as quickly as possible from your CRE tech investment. Don’t forget to also consider and plan for any potential change management (this is where your power users can help!).
Step 5: Don’t Forget Qualitative Benefits
While the quantitative numbers certainly help to build your business case, the soft benefits can be just as powerful to support your story. An investor management platform can help you to exceed investor expectations, facilitate more effective communication with clients, and enable you to focus on more value-add activities.
Step 6: Instill Urgency
One of the top reasons that technology initiatives don’t move forward is because there is no sense of urgency – there is no burning imperative to institute change now. Use the research that you have compiled in building your business case to highlight the impact of not taking action, or rather, the “cost-to-delay”. In short, the cost-to-delay communicates the impact of time on potential benefits and outcomes, or in other words, the cost to your business of not taking immediate action. Also consider competitive advantage (i.e. potential market share gained by implementing sooner), impact on other projects and stakeholders, and of course the ROI.