Finding Offerings & Commanding Success With Robotic Process Automation
Many of our clients and regular blog readers will now be aware that REdirect proudly offers a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) service. Perhaps you’ve attended one of our webinars or read our articles on the topic.
Some of us break into the “tech sweats” (excitement) when we hear about groundbreaking topics such as RPA, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Some of us, however, may feel unsure about it, as we’re not entirely sure what benefits these technologies can bring to our business. Others will take a somewhat cynical approach and say, “Let me know when it’s actually able to reliably bring value to my organization—until then, it’s a distraction from what we do best.” All of these are valid perspectives.
The good news is that RPA is now reliably bringing value to our clients and to us here at REdirect. In today’s post, I’d like to tell you a little bit about our journey with RPA so far and what the future has in store.
First, What Is RPA?
Robotic Process Automation is a type of software that allows “bots” to interact with digital systems and tools as human users would. The purpose of RPA is to streamline workflows, automate time-consuming tasks so human employees can focus on other things, and ultimately make companies more dynamic and profitable.
In the real estate technology sector, applications of RPA include:
- End-of-month processing
- Bank reconciliations
- Handling rent payments and reminders
- Creating and sending invoices
- Document management and data entry
- Tenant onboarding/offboarding
- … and many more!
Our RPA Journey
When we first set out to bring RPA to the real estate markets we serve, we focused heavily on technology. We paid a lot of attention (and still do) to RPA education and how to recognize opportunities for its use. We were aware that, one day, we might have the opportunity to offer prepackaged solutions rather than the technology itself. However, our initial suggestions didn’t seem to resonate.
We treated RPA similarly to how we might treat customization in Yardi or MRI. We would spend time with each client to understand their challenge, particularly those related to repetitive manual processes of any size. We would then devise a solution and propose a statement of work with an agreed-upon number of hours to develop the solution. The key difference with RPA is that we provide an ongoing service to host, run, and maintain the automation.
While still an important offering, selling RPA services in this manner has not proved to be our best approach. For the first couple of years, we took every RPA gig we possibly could. We learned a lot and overinvested in our solutions to ensure that our clients would get all the value they had worked and paid for.
We realized, however, that we had to go back a step, teaching our clients what RPA is and how it works best. This meant providing education around the best practices and applications within RPA. We took on some projects that were, frankly, not profitable for us but have had excellent results nonetheless. Constantly experimenting and learning, we also spent a lot of time on internal automations.
We did all this knowing that we were investing in our future, and in our ability to help and advise our clients as broadly and expertly as possible. Did it pay off? Take a minute to see what Jessica O’Bannon, Director of Finance at Maine Properties, had to say about RPA. We think her testimonial speaks for itself.
Where We Are Today
Toward the end of 2021, some noticeable patterns emerged, and we realized we were providing some of the same solutions repetitively. In particular, bank reconciliation and bank-to-book solutions were highly requested. Because we were already skilled in offering these solutions and knew we could bring tremendous value to our clients, we embarked upon the next step in our RPA journey.
Now, instead of trying to educate and sell our clients on the value of RPA, we simply ask if we can help them with their bank reconciliations or offer to automate their bank-to-book activities. These are much more approachable conversations, and the benefits are more recognizable. Regardless of how you feel about RPA specifically, or new technology more broadly, this is relevant for every property management company in a practical, tangible way.
Understanding this trend, we have made a significant technological investment in our bank rec and bank-to-book services. We have standardized and streamlined our approach to these solutions so we can perform implementations in record time, bringing impact immediately.
What Does the Future Look Like?
Going forward, we will be offering solutions and services that solve specific problems. They fall in the RPA category of offerings that REdirect provides, but they actually use an array of technology. These solutions are mature and robust. Because of that, we are able to flatten our pricing and implementation time.
We will continue to look for our clients’ most frequent needs and add point services that solve these problems affordably and predictably. So, you’ll see our list of offerings grow.
Along the way, we’ll continue to do entirely custom automations, too. We love the way the real estate industry uniquely approaches the market. We get excited about the complex challenges our clients bring us, and we fulfill our purpose and our mission when we can help them solve these challenges by augmenting the technology investments they’re already making. Our best ideas are without a doubt inspired by our clients.
Learn More and Start Your RPA Journey
Here at REdirect, we are dedicated to bringing our clients significant and easily quantifiable value while establishing ourselves as thought leaders and front-runners in the real estate technology service arena. While we still offer cutting-edge technology, we are now also offering practical solutions and services that use that technology.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you are interested in any of the solutions we have mastered … or if you want to be a pioneer and partner with us to take the misery out of your more painful and unique processes.