According to CIO magazine’s 2011 State of the CIO Survey, “More than one-quarter of senior information technology (IT) executives say their bosses view IT as a cost center, and only 11 percent believe IT is perceived as a competitive differentiator.” This goes double for real estate and construction companies.
This is because the real estate and construction industries tend to be more project-oriented than process-oriented. These companies see technology as an additional overhead cost, and it is; however, if used correctly, the return on investment is significant, as every project undertaken can benefit.
And it doesn’t always require a new investment; more often than not, it’s simply optimizing the technology you’ve already got. Here are four questions to ask when reassessing technology to ensure you’re using it to its fullest potential.
Is Existing Software Up to Date?
In our experience, real estate and construction companies tend to adopt a laissez-faire approach to software upgrades; they’ll get to it when they get to it. However, software evolves very quickly. Add to this the fact that most software updates are free (if you subscribe to software support services), so there’s really no reason not to stay up to date.
For real estate companies, this means making sure you have the most current property management, accounting, and analytical software available.
For contractors, this includes estimating, project management, scheduling, job costing, accounting, and field data reporting software.
Could New Product Offerings Enhance Your Capabilities?
In addition to keeping software up to date, vendors often introduce new applications that enhance their total product offering. For example, a new module for equipment management may augment an existing project management module for contractors. It’s important to take a step back and consider the variety of portfolio applications available and what benefits they may afford.
One area that has provided significant ROI for contractors is in integrating field technology with back-office technology. Contractors can monitor job sites via cameras and GPS systems. These systems allow you to know the status of every piece of equipment, vehicle, and person, affording increased productivity.
Are You Optimizing What you Currently Have?
The biggest technology challenge we see for real estate and construction companies is making the most of what they already have. Eight out of 10 times, a client will contact us concerned that their technology doesn’t have a particular capability when, in fact, it does—the client just isn’t aware of how to access it or how to properly use it.
It’s like having a fancy calculator capable of computing the present value of an uneven cash flow but using it solely for simple addition and subtraction. This is incredibly common, and the same goes for software. Organizations are likely only using 50-70 percent of their software functionality. Take the time to learn about the software to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment.
Does Your Staff Need Training or Implementation Support?
Training and implementation support do not come cheap; to implement and be trained effectively on software, organizations might spend two-to-three times of the cost of the software. Yes, that’s a big investment, but the irony is once you’re armed with this information, it will save you money on each and every project you perform.
Another staff-related item to consider is how disciplined staff are in using the software. Software is only as effective as the data fed into it. Lack of discipline is the number-one reason why software is ineffective with real estate and construction organizations.
Focus on the Long Term
It’s easy to put off technology decisions in favor of day-to-day project management. However, thinking more long term and making the necessary investments to optimize technology will pay dividends now and into the future.
For more information on how to optimize technology, contact Ken Julien using the information in the sidebar.