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Avoiding Pitfalls in CRE Software Implementations
07/09/2018
Phil Wales's picture
Author:
Phil Wales

Corporate Real Estate (CRE) applications are sophisticated decision-making tools, but nearly 50% of implementations fail to meet expectations. Part of this is due to unrealistic expectations set up front, but thelure of a quick technology fix without proper up-front planning also plays a significant role.

The best decision-support tools cannot help a business that has not focused its processes to prosper in a technology driven world. Too often the need for improved productivity, better access to strategic information, and a proven return on the investment leads to the “Fire-Ready-Aim” syndrome.

FIRE – Select a solution before the true requirements and operational processes are fully defined.

READY – Implement the solution quickly in an effort to get the benefits immediately – without ever fully understanding what benefits are needed.

AIM – Spend the effort and money to try to make the operations fit with the technology investment.

Obviously, the correct approach is to first understand your needs (READY), select a solution that best fits your specific requirements (AIM), and then implement the technology in a way that most accurately addresses those needs (FIRE). This approach removes the tendency to “impulse buy”. You have heard the old adage, “Never grocery shop without a list of what you need.” If you don’t have a list, you tend to wonder the aisles grabbing things that look good instead of getting what you need. The same is true of software shopping. Without a well-defined set of qualified requirements, you tend to buy slick features you may never use and miss key requirements you cannot live without.

Not fully understanding the purpose and benefits of what you are selecting creates a high likelihood of failure. The selection tends to be based on “sex appeal” (how the system looks) and price (initial outlay versus ROI). To this second point, John Ruskin had the follow observation in the late 1800’s that is still applicable to us today:

“It’s unwise to pay too much – but it’s worst to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.”

This is the “Shelfware Syndrome” – buy something cheap and then it sits on the shelf unable to deliver the value you need. Also, be aware of great – but unrealistic – expectations. Be realistic about:

  1. What your team can handle in-house. Remember they have full time jobs!
  2. What the true scope of the solution needs to be versus what you want it to be.
  3. What the schedule and cost must be to give you the intended benefits.

Major projects too often suffer from DMP (Dynamically Mutating Perspectives) usually leading to scope creep. To avoid this danger:

  • Clearly articulate the requirements and end-game before looking at solutions.
  • Put together a realistic implementation plan and budget – seriously consider planning in phases. Consider all the costs involved, not just the software and outside implementation contracts.
  • Get complete buy-in for what the system must do and what it will not do.
  • Start simple. Look for scalability. Establish a baseline and grow from there.
  • Measure against the plan.
  • Manage expectations and be prepared for resistance, and communicate continuously!
  • Remember your data! Data readiness and migration are often as time consuming as the technology implementation itself.

Taking the time to consider and understand your needs up front will make sure that your Aim hits the mark and exceeds expectations.

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