During the recent IMN Real Estate CFO & COO Forum East, I was invited to be on a vendor panel discussing the opportunities and challenges involved in identifying and implementing new real estate technologies, with a focus on return on investment (ROI), costs, and resourcing.
Highlighting a few of the key discussion points and takeaways from the panel conversation will help you make smarter decisions around your real estate technology investments.
What Are the Key Components of a Great Technology Investment Strategy?
It is helpful to begin by looking at some important components that make up a strong technology investment strategy.
While each organization will manage this slightly differently, I believe it is critical to have a specific “point person” (or team of people) with clearly defined responsibilities to help create a cohesive approach across departments to socialize the information within the system and prevent knowledge gaps. Additionally, it is essential to receive appropriate advice from someone with the relevant knowledge and experience, either via internal experts or externally from a consultancy firm like REdirect, to ensure the investment will be outcome-based.
We also discussed the importance of digitizing and automating workflow and switching from point solutions to full-suite solutions to help increase optimization and unify previously separate functions. The real estate industry as a whole has historically been very fragmented when it pertains to communication among systems. A shift toward automation in workflow and task management is beginning to change that outdated and siloed landscape while increasing continuity. Here at REdirect, for example, we make extensive use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suites such as MRI Software and Yardi.
Assessing the Benefits and Risks of Investing in Technology and Partnering With Third Parties
Quantitative scoring and qualitative analysis can help you to prioritize investments appropriately. This should include a focus on long-term ROI and getting the most “bang for your buck” from a quality perspective, as well as achieving some quick wins that will help to prevent burnout and implementation fatigue among your team.
How Has the Global Pandemic Impacted the Use of Real Estate Technology?
Inevitably, the pandemic had an impact on firms’ use of technology. Some organizations made the mistake of shying away from all new investments to save money during this uncertain time. Though this is understandable, unprecedented events such as the pandemic made investment in technology more important than ever.
I spoke about the importance of automating (for example) payable processes and cash receipts, ensuring prompt payments even when employees are not physically present in the office.
The changes in the labor market caused by the pandemic have also made talent retention more essential than ever. It is vital to implement technology that people want to adopt; without it, you will struggle with talent retention, which was a major theme throughout the conference. If your employees are on board and express interest in adopting new technology, you’ll in turn be able to service clients more effectively, generate necessary reports, and be overall successful in your business. If employees are not on board with this adoption, then the opposite outcomes can occur. It can be detrimental if you do not have the appropriate buy-in from your employees before implementing new technology.
Making the Most of Technology to Ensure a Strong ROI
One of the greatest benefits of technology is freeing up additional time and resources to focus on more crucial aspects of your business that require a human touch. Automating repetitive tasks such as data aggregation and processing will leave more time for your team members to focus on more in-depth tasks such as analysis.
Another member of the panel talked about the value of building an end-to-end process when choosing and implementing technology. It is not enough to simply select and implement technology; you will also need to account for ongoing resource management, a robust feedback process, and clear lines of ownership.
What Are the Resource Expectations and Costs Associated With Implementing and Effectively Using These Technologies?
It is impossible to put concrete numbers to this question, as they will vary widely from organization to organization. However, one recurring theme I have noticed is that when companies try to lower their costs and fail to invest sufficient resources in the planning stage, they often lose money in the long run. As a result, the implementation process is less efficient and requires more support during a bumpy go-live, as not all requirements were solved for.
A major technology implementation is a significant time investment, whether in the form of internal staff time or bringing in an external consultancy such as REdirect.
Further, it is essential not to neglect post-go-live support. It is a common mistake for organizations to focus all their resources on getting to the point of launch while failing to sufficiently consider what happens beyond that.
All technology implementations are likely to involve some pain points. You can overcome these hurdles by focusing on the end goal and working with a knowledgeable organization that understands the challenges you are facing and can guide you through them.
Get Support With Your Technology Implementation
Wherever you are in your journey with real estate technology, the knowledgeable and experienced team at REdirect can help. We realize that there is always room for improvement, and our highly qualified consultants are here to guide you through every step of the process to ensure you obtain the maximum benefit and return from your technology investment. The right software investment is invaluable for your business not only now but also for the future. Selecting a consultancy that you can scale with is the first step toward a successful future.
Reach out today and we will be happy to advise you.