Ask the Expert: Adopting Property Management Tech
New and evolving technologies are re-coding how property managers work. Yet while there are certainly benefits to bringing digital systems, mobile innovations, and “smarter” tools into an operation, ensuring a smooth adoption among staff and tenants can be a challenge. For this edition of Ask the Expert, we met with Elik Jaeger, CEO of SuiteSpot Technology, to discuss strategies for pushing through tech integration barriers.
In general, how do you see technology changing the property management space?
The property management industry has become very sophisticated, with players managing large and complex portfolios. It's in this new environment where data-driven tools and mobile technologies can transform many aspects of the job, be it inspections, preventive maintenance, service repairs, and other critical functions. Technology can also be used to connect all stakeholders to ensure everyone knows what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. For that reason, more and more property managers are leveraging advanced technology solutions to reduce risk and increase the performance of their operations.
Have you experienced resistance to new technologies through your work with SuiteSpot?
In every industry, you’re always going to have employees who may not be as tech-savvy as others or, in the case of property management, ones who are overwhelmed with the idea of trading their notepads and walkie-talkies for a mobile device. That’s always something you need to consider in both the design and training stage when new technology is being brought into a company. Once employees understand and that translates to substantial operational savings. It really is more about the money you save rather than the money you'll make. Ultimately, a big part of convincing company leaders to invest in technology is making the case that it’s going to generate savings the moment you put in their employees’ hands. There is never a good time to take the time and implement new technology, but it would be hard to expect different results when following the same old and inefficient processes.
What are the main barriers to tech adoption in property management?
The key barrier is the status quo – the idea that "this is how we do things for many years, and it worked well for us." Change management is the biggest challenge for finding and implementing new technologies. In our experience, having a trusted and respected champion or project manager in the organization has proven to be a key contributor to the successful adoption of new technologies.
What tips would you offer property management companies when it comes to onboarding or training employees with new technology?
There needs to be a strong business case. While new tech isn't always going to make you money, it will save the company a lot in terms of time and labor, and that translates to substantial operational savings. It really is more about the money you save rather than the money you'll make. Ultimately, a big part of convincing company leaders to invest in technology is making the case that it’s going to generate savings the moment you put in their employees’ hands. There is never a good time to take the time and implement new technology, but it would be hard to expect different results when following the same old and inefficient processes.
How do you keep employees from slipping back into old habits?
Old habits die hard, and while there are many examples of how technology contributes to increased efficiency and performance, they may not be enough to convince professionals who swear by traditional methods. There is an active change management element that needs to happen if you plan to take advantage of new technology. Not everyone is going to be open to learning new systems, and even if they are, they'll need training and experience with the technology before they start using it effectively. Ask your suppliers for adequate onboarding assistance to make sure your users are fully supported until they become comfortable with the new technology. While there may be slowdowns in the beginning, it will not be long until the benefits take shape.
This article was first published at the CONDOBUSINESS Part of the REMI Network November 2019 edition. Download article at ONDOBUSINESS November 2019 • Vol. 34 #6.