Change Management: 5 Tips for Software Implementation

The collection, management and analysis of data has always been critical to effective real estate asset management, but getting it right has never been as important as it is today. Implementing asset systems offers big rewards for organizations trying to enhance sustainability, improve performance and lower costs, but poor planning and bad decisions during the process put organizations at considerable risk. According to a survey by Intel Security, 80% of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud apps and solutions in the next year. It signals a shift away from traditional high-risk IT projects and follows the successful strategies of organizations looking to better meet changing stakeholder expectations.

Real estate technology has largely made the jump to the cloud already, and the transition away from traditional, on-premise hosting of software and data for other asset management business processes continues to pick up speed. To remain relevant and successful, organizations must adapt to these dramatic increases in the pace of technological change.

We’ve written before about getting buy-in within your company for commercial real estate software. That’s an important first step, but this must continue throughout the full lifecycle of implementation. From our experience as a partner to many organizations during the implementation process (i.e. EMG and the State of Oregon), we’ve identified five critical components of successful software implementation.

1. Manage Change from the Beginning

In 2014, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the international gold standard for Asset Management (ISO 55000) which addresses the importance of managing change that affects assets, asset management policy and the asset management system upon which an organization relies to achieve its objectives.

ISO 55000 suggests that potential internal and external changes should be evaluated in advance so that mitigating actions against both planned and unplanned changes can be designed into the implementation process. During implementation, and continuing into the operations phase, the team must have the capability to make evidence-based decisions on proposed changes and consider scenarios systematically across the entire organization.

Effective change management can make the difference between buying software and making an investment in a solution that delivers real value to the organization.

2. Lead with “Why”

Effective software implementation starts with communication that provides context for the implementation. Why is the organization implementing this system? How will it support organizational objectives? What behavioral changes will be required for adoption? Why is this good for the organization, employees, customers and other stakeholders?

Start this process early by sharing an internal memo detailing the changes to tools and processes. This should outline the business objectives behind the company’s decision, as well as the benefits to the team. It should also present clear timelines, clear goals and clear project outcomes. Communication should continue on a regular cadence throughout implementation and include reinforcing messaging from senior management about the “why” in addition to updates from the team.

3. Appoint and Support an Internal Champion

Effective software implementation must be championed at every level of the organization. This is another best practice embodied in ISO 55000 guidance and it starts at the top. Senior management should appoint a program or project manager to oversee each phase of the asset system lifecycle from implementation to operation to continual improvement, but overall ownership and accountability for asset management must remain at the senior level.

To ensure success, CXOs and senior-level directors should take a leading role in directing internal communications, and promoting adoption of new processes and technology. They should be actively engaged in setting the objectives and measures of success for the organization, and allocating appropriate resources for the achievement of those objectives. They should provide clear guidance regarding alignment with other organizational units, practices and systems: risk management, financial performance, mission dependency, sustainability and workplace culture among other objectives.

The internal champion has a high likelihood of implementation success when they have clear, measurable objectives, the full support of top-level management and the engagement of other key stakeholders throughout the organization.

Read more: Does your AEC firm have a plan for new tech?

4. Develop—and Adhere to—a Standardized Data Model

Having a well-crafted implementation plan that carefully considers every need and every foreseeable change to scope or timeline does not guarantee success of the project. Many stakeholders will be required to break old habits and managing behaviors may be the hardest part of the task. As the team at strategy + business suggests, start by defining what critical behaviors will ensure the success of the software implementation.

It may seem counterintuitive, but we’ve found that developing and adhering to a standardized data model is critical to managing behavioral change. The real estate asset management industry today is teeming with firms that gather, merge and export information for various functions, but, the results can be siloed and disparate. Standardizing the data received from partners and service providers is a major factor in the success of any asset software implementation.

For example, many of our customers leverage our integrated tool set to enforce data quality and consistency across all workflows. Field collection and assessment data can synchronized to their Asset Lifecycle Platform multiple times per day as the tasks are completed, even if those collecting and creating data represent a mix of third-party contractors, assessment specialists and internal personnel. Taking steps to assure data consistency and quality and adherence to a standard data model will bring about a new way of thinking among stakeholders who will come to expect access to high-quality, standardized data as they perform their own work. This, in turn, will increase confidence and trust in that data, and adoption of the asset software.

Many organizations spend more time curating data than actually building analysis and reporting based on those data. Software that is built to support a standardized data model and streamline cumbersome data manipulation empowers organizations to focus on strategy, forecasting and planning activities rather than the minutia of data analysis. Leave that to Capital Asset Performance Software instead.

Read more: Try these three strategies to move from data gathering to knowledge creation

5. Foster a Culture of Innovation

If all of the other tips are followed they can act as a kind of catalyst for innovation. Having a solid plan, managing change, engaging stakeholders and demonstrating leadership from senior management are among the inoculants to the status quo. An implementation team needs to be forward-thinking—especially in today’s tech-first environment—if they are going to be successful navigating changes and delivering a successful project that has real value to the organization.

Many organizations have experienced failed IT projects and disruptive software implementations that leave them skeptical about the value of all technology. Others hold tightly to outdated legacy systems because they believe the cost of replacing them can’t be justified, or that some of their employees or customers won’t adapt well to new software. Even with these concerns, many of those same organizations are realizing that change is needed to stay relevant in today’s environment. To fulfill their missions, serve customers and develop a tech-savvy workforce, organizations need to be responsive and open to reinvention.

Read more: Here’s what millennials look for in today’s AEC firms

Avoid the Costs of Ineffective Software Implementation

Transition is expensive, but the costs of being unprepared for transition can be catastrophic. Many organizations have adopted a cloud-first approach to software that reduces risk, speeds implementation, lowers cost and improves performance of their asset software. SaaS solutions allow organizations to stay focused on their mission, not their IT.

Through just one single dashboard, 4tell™’s Asset Lifecycle Platform gives industry professionals the visibility and real-time insight they need to handle every aspect of their portfolio’s performance. Contact us to learn more and speak to a member of our team to talk through a change management plan for your company.

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