The majority of PropTech solutions aim to solve problems and improve processes, however, business owners should have a clear understanding of what the proposed solutions will offer them. Here, I provide some tips to help.
Understand your business and ensure buy-in from staff
Rather than taking a product and making it fit around a business, agents must understand their own processes and how the benefits will manifest in order to ensure it works seamlessly. Just as important is a thorough understanding of staff desire and engagement to embrace the new technology.
One of the biggest issues our industry faces is the regular intake of new PropTech which is signed up to by agencies but is poorly implemented and executed. This means staff don’t engage or use the solution properly, with perfectly good products being cancelled within months of release.
Compare and contrast
It goes without saying that you should compare the new PropTech solution with your existing suppliers and make the most of marketplace trials to do your research. Crucially in this, bear in mind that your new solution should not be based on the requirements needed today but should be based on requirements needed going forward.
Agents should look to have a two-to-three-year shelf life to ensure that the investment is recovered but also to be upgrading regularly in line with new advances.
Analyse the impact
Complete a simple impact assessment which looks at both the positive and negative benefits to the company, staffing and potential outcomes. Some of the areas you should be considering include:
Understand not only how you will implement the technology, but also the sustainable benefit to the company.
Get a clear picture of the cost to benefit ratio in terms of monetary gain, time and efficiency.
Understand the Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) that it aims to deliver to your business in order for you to stand above and beyond your competitors.
Consider the potential pressures to staff.
Scope out the company
Make sure you investigate the solution and the company driving it. By following a robust due diligence process, you should get a clear understanding of the company’s sustainability and understand their future direction. This includes key post-implementation processes such as onboarding and continued customer support.
Serious consideration should be given to the contractual terms of any agreement. One of the biggest areas of financial loss is often due to a business not seeking legal advice when wanting to implement a product.
Legal advice can highlight the potential ramifications of entering a service level agreement and it is well worth investing in understanding the legal commitments when signing any commercial contract.
Give enough time to make sure it’s done right
Prior to and following an investment decision, adequate time and provision must be made to ensure smooth integration. Understand exactly what the solution provider can offer to ensure the best preparations for both a smooth launch and post-implementation period.
Clearly, end-to-end testing and user adoption are key to this. Not only will this help staff understand new and additional features but will help them become more efficient at using tools to their maximum capability.
Agents will also need to consider how long additional training and support is on offer for, and whether there are any additional costs.
Geovation Accelerator Program and REACH UK
As the property industry continues to evolve, new technological solutions will enable us to become more efficient and adapt to the increased levels of legislation and communicate in a way which fits the consumers' narrative.
Propertymark is acutely aware that many of the solutions which are developed do not fit the requirements of the industry and as such we work collaboratively with numerous PropTech start-ups helping them to adapt their products in a way which will lead to more meaningful solutions.
We continue to support and promote the modernisation of the industry through a number of channels including HM Land Registry’s Geovation Accelerator Programme and REACH UK.
Pre-lockdown, some of the participants in our Propertymark Inspire development programme attended sessions with new PropTech start-ups through the Geovation Programme which helped shape and develop products into the marketplace. More engagement sessions are planned as there is clear synergy and mutual benefits.
Ultimately for agents to achieve greater satisfaction in their PropTech solutions, for greater efficiencies and better results for our clients, we need to put the legwork in at the start and that applies across the board, whether that’s individually within our own agencies or as a sector, baking the involvement of practicing agents into product development.
If you would be prepared to let me know how you’ve approached it and the lessons you’ve learned through onboarding new solutions, or alternatively if you’re interested in getting involved with shaping new evolving PropTech, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Nathan Emerson is interim CEO of Propertymark, a director at industry charity Agents Giving and a property industry consultant. He previously had a nearly 26-year association with Pygott & Crone, where he ended up as a Partner.