Over sixteen years ago while a Gartner analyst, I launched a series of research reports on the subject of virtual teaming. Because of mobile technology and the growth of telework, it became clear that virtual teaming would become the norm in business operations. Today virtual teaming is widely adopted, and organizations need collaborative real estate technology to help business processes become more efficient and productive.
Why real estate technology must be collaborative
Corporate real estate involves a number of disciplines that must be coordinated, including internal staff and external service providers. Collaborative applications can be adapted to ensure seamless process flow through a real estate project life cycle; from project planning, site selection, leasing, interior construction, equipment and furnishing procurement, staff move, and punch list functions.
In addition, the application can be used in the lease administrative process to update rent payment schedules, lease addendums, and notifications.
So, what is the best practice in the procurement of collaborative real estate technology?
5 Steps to select the best real estate technology tools
1. Document your key CRE processes.
This should involve identifying key participants, their roles and responsibilities, and how they interact through the real estate project cycle.
The resulting process map should then form the basis of what type of collaborative application is best suited to support all phases of the project life cycle.
2. Specify goals for real estate technology.
Before developing a request for proposal (RFP) you need to specify key goals for real estate technology tools. Specifically, do you need to:
- Increase the rate of the real estate life cycle?
- Standardize work flows?
- Improve visibility and collaboration between teams?
- Create, edit, and work on shared documents with team members?
- Integrate with other tools?
Once you’ve established specific goals, you now have the basis for evaluating whether alternative applications can meet these goals.
3. Evaluate real estate technology delivery.
The next issue is software delivery. Do you want the application to be hosted on premise or in the cloud? This question will depend on the overall practice of your organization’s approach to software delivery:
- Do you have the technical capability to host on premises?
- Is cost an issue?
- To what degree does the application integrate with other applications, and depend on a centralized database?
- Is security an issue?
4. Gain buy-in for adopting real estate technology.
Another critical issue is whether the application will receive employee buy-in. Does your organization have a collaborative culture? Or are the employees more independent and less likely to readily adopt a collaborative tool?
The most effective way to address the adoption issue is to form an employee evaluation committee, consisting of representatives from the key CRE functional groups.
Have the committee evaluate various alternative software solutions, both through vendor demonstrations and trial utilizations. The committee will be charged with the objective of evaluating and then recommending their preference. Employee input will be a critical factor in the selection process.
5. Compare price and value.
The final consideration in the software selection process is the question of pricing. You need to have a clear understanding how the pricing model relates to software features and value. Is the pricing flexible relative to adding new users, new features, and versions? What is the maintenance component in the pricing?
What can you gain by choosing collaborative real estate technology?
The collaboration application can be the central platform for CRE operations. If properly acquired and configured, it can vastly improve team productivity, coordination, and goal achievement. And most importantly, the application will enhance the efficiency of CRE processes, by improving communication and data sharing between team members and external service providers.