Today’s top real estate professionals are always looking for new tools to gain a competitive advantage whether buying, selling, or managing property. To meet the demand, venture investors have been sinking billions of dollars into PropTech startups, including over $5 billion last year — a 150x increase over the $33 million invested in 2010.
It’s one thing to adopt new software, it’s quite another to implement it into your team’s workflow. All too often, after acquiring a new tool, management is scratching their heads because no one is using the $10,000 software they just purchased. How do you stay on top of the new offerings, select the right software, and make sure it actually gets used for its intended purpose? Here are some tips to help your team with PropTech adoption:
What problem is your team facing?
If you are considering hiring another employee because there is too much work for your current team, you may want to instead consider how technology can be “hired” to improve work and deal flow.
For example, CRM systems help real estate professionals track customer conversations. Analytical tools can also be used to help solve problems facing the team. Many analytical tools can be employed to help analysts leverage data more effectively — reducing those hours of analysis time to only a few minutes in some instances. Other tools can help you dynamically visualize the results of your analysis and achieve insights more quickly.
Examine your workflows and speak with your team to learn where inefficiencies or tedious tasks exist. Now, look for a tool that can help mitigate these.
Pro Tip: Ask your team if there are any software out there they’ve been curious about. Encourage them to schedule a demo. Implementing software from the top down can be more challenging without buy-in from the people that will be using the software each day.
Can you measure return on investment?
Real estate is unique from other industries in that there isn’t always a clear ROI associated with the use of a software or service. For example, an analyst will vet 50+ properties and may only take three to the investment committee. You could argue that those three deals just became that much more expensive because of the hours spent on the other forty-seven properties.
However, you can quantify the value of a software or service by calculating hours saved per deal. Time saved translates into more capacity; whether that is more opportunities underwritten, more deals brought to committee, or less time negotiating internally between departments.
Pro Tip: Try the software out for a month or for the trial period — many platforms should have either a monthly subscription that allows you to use the platform or free trial. See for yourself (with minimal capital upfront) if the platform holds merit in streamlining or cost-saving within your daily tasks.
During the free trial or one-month subscription, ask key team members to try the service out, too. Getting buy-in from the team is a critical step otherwise you could purchase the software and it could sit unused.
Maximize cross-functional usability
Look for products that will be usable across different disciplines within your company. If an acquisitions analyst is exploring a new product opportunity, ensure that asset management, operations, and marketing can also find value in using the software.
Even if one person or department uses the product 80% of the time, it is important that everyone involved in the deal flow understands the value and can find some benefit. If a team is forced to use it without understanding how it helps them, they will likely abandon it.
It’s important to first look at your existing workflow and determine where a software or service can add measurable value. There is no holy grail out there that will do your job for you, find products that supplement your current activities to make you more efficient.
Pro Tip: Don’t get sucked in by buzzwords. Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT will ultimately change the landscape of real estate (and most industries for that matter), but if you can’t clearly state what the product actually does for your business, it may not be for you.
What is the learning curve?
Once you’ve established how a software fits into your workflow and you have internal buy-in, you can determine what is required to get your team up to speed on using the product. Educational resources and product documentation can be invaluable.
A customer support infrastructure is a good indicator of the software company’s ability to deliver a good experience for you and your team. When you are on deadline, you want to trust that technical issues or questions are promptly addressed and resolved.
A software’s value is ultimately derived from its ability to enable your business to outperform the competition. From increased efficiency to improved accuracy, to making well-informed investment decisions, PropTech startups are rushing to build software that meets the needs of an evolving industry. To ensure the successful implementation of a new technology, your team must clearly define the problem you’re hoping to solve, evaluate the return on investment, understand company-wide implications, and have a plan for learning and adopting the software.