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Real Estate Technology

The Hidden Costs of Waiting to Adopt New Technology

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Adopting new technology platforms are disruptive to your team’s established workflow and costly to implement, right? Not necessarily. In fact, the opposite may be true.

We’ve heard a lot of discussion about waiting for certain technologies, tools and gadgets to be tested on the market before they’re ready for regular use. Caution is a bedrock pillar in real estate for good reason, but we’re starting to see that some of that reluctance is actually based on out-dated information and bad memories from the mid-90s.

If you wait for the kinks to be worked out before trying a new gadget, we’re with you. But if your company still mandates using Internet Explorer - a product so problematic that Microsoft stopped supporting all but the most recent version - it’s time to look closely at the real cost of waiting to adopt new technology.

You’re throwing good money after bad

Every day that your team lumbers along with a suboptimal system is another day they waste trying to sidestep problems and construct makeshift workarounds.

For example, bad internet in the office is an annoyance on an individual level, but it causes systemic harm at an organizational level. There is a real prospective cost to say, rewiring your office for fiber. However, there is potentially a much larger chronic cost every time workflow is interrupted and data is lost. By maintaining, and often augmenting, poorly-performing systems, good money is lost to what is no longer a good investment.

Don’t fall prey to commitment bias, or the sunk cost fallacy. According to McKinsey & Company research, “When anyone in a meeting justifies future costs by pointing to past ones, red flags should go up; what's required instead is a levelheaded assessment of the future prospects of a project or business.”

How to fix it

In the same report, McKinsey points to an interesting remedy found at private equity companies: someone not part of the original decision-making group should be at least partly responsible for the project meeting its goals and reaching a successful outcome.

“If Mr. Jones buys and initially oversees a company, for example, Ms. Smith is later charged with the task of reviewing the purchase and its ensuing performance. She takes her role seriously because she is also accountable for the unit's final performance.”

If seeding decision-making teams with an ‘outside’ participant isn’t logistically (or politically) feasible at your organization, task an associate or an intern to undertake an informal evaluation. They should spend at least 20 minutes with every team member to identify the pain points that are depleting time and productivity. If the interviewer finds that one out of three property managers struggles to find contact information for past vendors, then you know that your contact database system is worth reviewing

Your team is more frustrated than satisfied at the end of the day

No one is ever going to cite ‘bid leveling’ as the reason for quitting a job, but they will point to long hours spent working on tedious tasks that are necessary due to out-dated, inefficient processes. According to Carly Guthrie, a seasoned Human Resources leader, a lack of appreciation for employees’ personal time is the number one reason people leave a job.

“Usually the hours are wearing on them or their spouse is on their case because they’re never home,” she says. “A really good CEO thinks about the bigger picture and realizes people have lives outside of work. That’s the number one way to prevent people from feeling like they might want to be somewhere else.”

Your team doesn’t want to be at the office until 10:00pm reconciling multiple versions of an Excel spreadsheet; not when they know there is technology that could solve that problem for them. 

All of us want to put our time and talents to the highest and best use, and all of us want to work for a company that willingly invests in the tools to make that possible. 

How to fix it

Survey your team right away and ask: What tasks cause you to work late? Create a short, free poll using SurveyMonkey or circulate a Google Form to get concise answers.

You’re missing great new solutions because of old misconceptions

Almost everything about technology has changed since you spent hours loading and unloading CD-ROMs in an effort to install Windows 95 software. Well, except Minesweeper because what about that game needs improving? Nothing, that’s what.

While you’re probably aware that disc drives are mostly a thing of the past, you may not be aware how much more advanced cloud-based technologies have become, even over the past few years. Software-as-a-Service, otherwise known as SaaS, is a technology which allows software that would normally be installed directly on your computer to instead be accessible over the internet - i.e. 'the cloud.' SaaS products benefit real estate professionals in a wealth of ways, but the important thing to note here is that SaaS implementation is exponentially easier that everything that has come before.

How to fix it

The best thing you can do for your organization when evaluating new technology is to find out how much training and ongoing support the SaaS company will provide. With good customer support, most SaaS tools can be mastered.

Ask the following questions:

What's included in the annual subscription? Is there a fee for onboarding, training, support or other critical components of the software's application?

How many hours of training are included in the subscription price?

If you need more training, is it available?

Will there be a real person you can reach out to after the onboarding phase is complete?

What happens when someone new needs to learn the software? Who will be responsible for training new team members when they join?

At Honest Buildings, we believe our success is interwoven with our customers’ success so we provide ongoing training and support at no extra charge. One of our Senior Customer Success Specialists, Ashley, sees the benefits of working directly with each user of our product because so many people have different levels of comfort and experience with technology.

Whether training and support is included or extra, it’s critically important. With it, your road to more efficient systems and internal processes will be smooth and rewarding.

Your team is more prepared than you think

Remember the printer scene from the movie Office Space? It’s hard to calculate the hard costs of employee frustration, squandered productivity and lost time, but the costs are no less real or pressing. New technologies can alleviate many of the issues that cause these problems, and implementing new technology is easier than ever.

Fortunately, your team probably already has the knowledge and skill sets to easily learn new programs. Even if the company is slow to adopt new technology, your employees are using apps on their smartphones, Google tools to manage their personal tasks, iPads to manage family photos and video, and watching Netflix on their Apple TV. Talk to your team about the apps and tools they use outside of the office. This will give you a good sense of where their savviness lies and help you feel more confident bringing new technologies into your office.

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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.