Hannah Gill: Giving technology the red or green light

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ but how do you decide what tech stays and what tech goes in your business? Hannah Gill examines this conundrum as well as what you need to consider when introducing brand new PropTech to your team. From examining the employee and customer experience, cost and the ability to scale, Hannah says it’s critical you do your homework.

When I talk about giving technology the red or green light, I’m not talking about an episode of Squid Game, but rather some questions leaders should consider when introducing (or removing) tech from their business.

As a leader, you are responsible for ensuring your team has the right tools and resources to do their job.

A big part of that comes down to having a current, fit for purpose, tech stack. 

Before adding tech to your business, you need to be clear on what problem it is solving.

As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… but I suspect with many businesses carrying legacy, incumbent technology, a review wouldn’t do any harm.

Here are my top 5 tips when considering new tech:

1. What is the employee experience? 

Is it solving a problem and/or saving time, or would it add further complexities your already busy team don’t need?

When considering new tech, the due diligence, onboarding, training and rollout is critical. 

Invite a few key team members to sit in on demos, jump in a sandpit version and then provide feedback.

After all, they’re the ones who will be using it, so their buy-in and endorsement is critical. 

2. What is the client experience? 

Does your customer see or interact with the product? Does it compliment your brand and style/tone or does it look clunky and outdated?

If the platform includes any automation (and you would hope they do!), test extensively.

There’s nothing worse than rogue comms hitting your client’s inbox and having to send a follow-up note asking them to disregard it.

3. Does it integrate with your existing tech and can it scale? 

You don’t want your team having to enter the same data multiple times across platforms, and nor do you want to be moving systems again in a year when you have outgrown a product. 

Most providers offer integrations, but deep-diving into what that means and how that works is critical in decision making.

As service offerings widen (such as maintenance platforms offering inspection reports or tenant application platforms offering tenancy sign-ups and utility connections), more and more products compete, in part, with one another, meaning their promise of integration are sometimes well-intended but can fall short. 

4. Cost is an important consideration.

If it’s a product the team will use five per cent of the time, consider the cost-to-value ratio. But if it’s a product they’ll use 50 per cent of the time, the decision may be different.

You might also find you can remove other products to create a saving. 

Also consider the model of the platform or its service. Are they charging a SAS fee or a cost per property?

Are they throwing big bucks at you up front, or can you offset costs through income earned (e.g. utility or marketplace providers)?

Just because someone is offering cash upfront doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your team – you’ll most likely do better by playing the long game.

5. Data use and storage is a big one to consider.

While this may not impact your team initially, it’s important as a leader to ensure that any product you use has good governance and appropriate use and storage of data.

Privacy and the use of your client’s information is a significant consideration – if you don’t believe me, Kristen Porter of O*NO Legal will convince you, I’m sure. 

Even if the data part checks out, it is worth considering what the platforms end goal might be – will they be your competitor in future, or are they a genuine service provider to the industry?

Before giving the green light on any product, contact existing users for their feedback and experiences – they’ll give you an honest review and will have identified any issues or shortcomings.

In saying that, don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.

If any product was perfect, we would already all be using it.

If it ticks 80 per cent of your boxes, it’s probably the right choice. 

Understanding the benefit of any tech needs to come with these multiple considerations, but the focus should always be your people first!

If it’s good for them (through time savings, removing pain points and/or streamlining workflows), then it’s good for your business too.

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Hannah Gill

Hannah Gill is the Director of The Property Collective, REIACT President and one half of Gill & Hooper