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Real Estate Technology

Six Tricks to Rolling Out CRE Tech Initiatives in Your Company

Bringing a new technology platform into your company can seem like a daunting process. It requires time and trust from team members who have their own priorities and deadlines.

Even so, there are hidden costs to waiting to adopt technologies that could increase your productivity and profitability; costs that more than negate any potential discomfort of making a transition. At the end of the day, you need to help your team embrace new platforms and tools rather than avoid them.

Here are six best practices for rolling out CRE tech initiatives in your company.

1) Map the new, tech-driven workflows to your existing workflows

Before you roll out any initiative, make sure you have a clear understanding of how the technology-driven processes compare to your team’s existing processes to identify any dependencies outside of your team. The goal of integrating a new technology platform is to eliminate many of the cumbersome, inefficient or time-consuming steps in your existing workflows. However, you also want to be aware if it introduces any new steps—even good steps—or shifts the responsibility for certain tasks so you can be prepare accordingly.

Try to use real-life usage scenarios for the technology as you go through this mapping process. Draw out the activities from a recent project and discuss how it would have worked if you had been using the new technology at that time.

2) Recruit internal power users

If you can, identify potential power users on your team who can act as internal point people for questions and ongoing training. Get them trained first and have them test drive the new technology before the rest of the team. They might find potential dependencies that need to be addressed or help refine the new workflows. Your power users can also identify best practices (like naming conventions for files) that only internal your team would be able to anticipate.

Beta test the new initiatives among technology enthusiasts on your staff, so when it’s time to roll it out to the rest of the office, you have an internal group that can communicate the benefits and help colleagues with the adoption process.

3) Answer the question: “What’s in it for me?”

Your employees will want to know how any new technology is going to impact them. So it’s critical that leaders are able to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Identify how the new technology will increase their productivity and address any bottlenecks or problems that have been making them less effective.

Be specific. Don’t just say, “This platform will help you increase your productivity.” Show them that by using certain tools, they’ll be 3x faster at completing a certain goal or they will have 5 hours per week to redirect toward other tasks. For example, the Honest Buildings Customer Success team shows new customers how their dashboard will automatically summarize the latest project activity across their portfolio. New users are able to immediately contrast to how onerous it was to compile this information doing it the “old way” and how much easier it will be going forward.

4) Make sure there is a concrete plan to train your team

No modern technology provider should expect your team to go it alone. Discuss with your service provider how and when they will hold training sessions to go over everything from using workflow features to figuring out how to get back to your start page.

It can be helpful to give your tech provider a general organizational chart of your company so they can see where everyone fits into the general workflow and what functions they will be responsible for. The Honest Buildings Customer Success Team often groups functional teams who regularly work together into the same training session. The targeted training encourages people to dig in on how this will actually work for their team and leads to more interactive and productive discussions.

A smaller group also helps encourage questions. Some members of the group might be hesitant to speak up if they are less comfortable with computers or technology, so stress that absolutely no question is stupid or silly.

As new people join your team, have a plan in place to bring them up to speed, whether you train them in-house or rely on your service provider.

5) Expect a few road bumps and have support in place

Your technology rollout is going to be just that—a rolling implementation. Many modern, cloud-based platforms like ours can be fully implemented (including training) in under eight weeks, but others take several months.

Members of your team may need additional training during the rollout. The integration between one technology platform and another may need to be worked out. Bugs and software issues occasionally happen. Just make sure your IT team is fully aware of the implementation schedule and make sure you understand how much help your vendor will provide in cases of hiccups, updates, or device compatibility issues.

You might be able to avoid some road bumps if you proactively: 

— Clarify the user permissioning structure for your platform ahead of time

— Communicate when various elements of the “old” system will be retired from the organization

— Make implementation schedules and training materials easily available to everyone who is impacted by the rollout

6) Hold regular check-ins with your team to get feedback and celebrate wins

Check in with your employees and see how they’re adapting to the new technology—don’t let complaints or struggles fall on deaf ears. Ask them what works and what doesn’t, and solicit ideas that would help streamline the process or make the initiative even better. And respond to that feedback—you may find that you have to adjust your procedures, add new features, or research an even more compatible technology.

When the technology initiative delivers or exceeds projected results, share those successes with the team. Celebrate milestones and seek out the bright spots to show them how the technology is a boon to your company. If you have it available, publish a comparison of financial and quality metrics before and after the roll out.

Always keep the end goal in mind

Remember, there’s an emotional component to change management. Technology that enables easy access to information might be perceived as a threat to the “gatekeepers” in your company who have traditionally controlled that data. Be especially proactive in helping those colleagues see the benefits of the new platform, and how they will still play a crucial role in achieving the team’s goals.

Stress to your team that change for the sake of change is not the goal. The goal is to help them be more successful, productive versions of themselves. You may even want to find a way to symbolically say goodbye to the “old way” by having a file archiving party or ringing a bell every time another team member completes training. Before you know it, the old, inefficient way of doing things will happily be left in the past.

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Pauline Nee

Written by Pauline Nee

Pauline is the head of content for Honest Buildings. For over twelve years in the commercial real estate industry, she has held diverse roles focused on product development, digital marketing, user research, web design and arts programming.