Overcoming Challenges of Technology Implementation and Adoption in CRE Firms
In a recent article, HBR asserted, “For all the dollars spent by American companies on [tools to increase effectiveness], there often remains a persistent and troubling gap between the inherent value of the technology they develop and their ability to put it to work effectively.” Almost every industry, including commercial real estate, is undergoing intense competition, and firms are increasingly looking to technology to help them get an edge on other players. But acquiring the right technology isn’t the only challenge.
Deploying new technology, regardless of the company, will almost always present one or more of the following challenges. Read ahead to learn about some common problems firms see when implementing and driving adoption of new technology, and how you can overcome these roadblocks to success.
Lack of Planning
CRE technology, such as investor management software, isn’t just another tool – it becomes an integral part of strategic business objectives and workflows. Further, new technology is often a fairly major undertaking and can be disruptive to business functions. For this reason, firms need to carefully think about how to align the technology with business requirements while mitigating risk as it is rolled out.
First, assess what challenges and roadblocks this software is intended to address and then identify ways to seamlessly incorporate it into current processes. Roll out the technology incrementally to help reduce disruption and so that you can address any issues that may arise in real-time. This plan should also include observation phases where you can determine step-by-step what is working, what is not, and areas for improvement, as well as get feedback from users.
Resistance to Change
Employees are typically resistant to change for two reasons:
1) They fear they are being replaced by technology and think their jobs could be eliminated.
2) They fail to recognize a personal benefit and thus do not feel incentivized to use the technology.
Technology isn’t replacing anybody most of the time; it’s just enabling those employees to do their job more efficiently and effectively. Clearly articulate what problems or inefficiencies the new technology is intended to address, and then help employees understand how the tooling will help them perform their jobs more effectively. As HBR says, “The closer the definition and solution of problems or needs are to end-users, the greater the probability of success.” It’s also useful to have internal champions promote the technology and encourage usage amongst their peers.
Integrating with Current Systems
Implementing a new technology is always going to be disruptive. New technology, which is often intended to replace slow or inefficient processes, will likely require some changes in procedures. You also need to make sure new tech properly integrates with other tools, such as accounting and back-office systems. As such, there may be a period of slower activity before those processes are sped up using the new technology, which could discourage employees.
Be aware that integrating new technology will not likely be a smooth move from the get-go. Map out how the new technology fits into current processes and identify how it will affect current workflows. Throughout the process, make sure you bring in the right individuals or departments to get up and running as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Failure to Communicate
Often times, new technology is pushed onto employees without communicating effectively about the what, the why, and the how.
Throughout the process, communication is going to be key. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to communicate the purpose, the process, the expectations, and the anticipated outcomes for the new technology. Involve key parties in the technology acquisition process and make sure they are included throughout implementation. These people will also be key in championing the new tech and motivating their peers to adopt the tooling.
Properly Training and Onboarding Users
Most new tooling will have an onboarding session. But one-and-done training just isn’t effective, as 87% of material is forgotten within weeks.
Technology training should be an ongoing process. According to a recent study by Axonify, 4 out of 5 employees want to receive regular, frequent training so they don’t forget what was taught. Further, products are always evolving and rolling out new features, so it’s important that users stay up-to-date on how to continually leverage the tooling. (Click here to learn about how customer success teams can drive value for your CRE firm!)
Determining Metrics for Success
How can you measure the success of a technology initiative and make improvements if you haven’t established benchmarks and goals?
Benchmark where you are currently with existing tools and processes. Then Identify goals for improvement and key metrics, such as time and dollar savings, to assess the success of your technology initiative. Doing so will also serve to set expectations for users and can help to hold them accountable, further driving adoption.
Want to learn more best practices for CRE technology implementation and adoption? Watch our free on-demand webinar on choosing the right CRE technology for your firm, tips to get team member buy-in, steps to deploy new technology, and tactics to achieve faster adoption.