On Nov 17 2022 / by Cassie Daley

PropTech is here to stay. A change management process is key to adopting it successfully.

Earlier in October, we were able to represent Parkable at CREtech in New York City. When we made the announcement that we’d be going to the conference, we got so much support! It was just as enriching and valuable as we’d hoped. Being able to engage with the real estate sector while in such an architecturally nuanced city was genuinely so fascinating and enjoyable!

While there, we became more in the know about how tech and real estate intersect. With all of the incredible tech solutions out there, the real estate sector can see substantial progress.

Here’s some of our knowledge below!

Tech adoption in real estate

We are really living in the future – it’s time to start taking advantage of all of the resources available to us. Already, we can see how property owners and managers use digital property tech to achieve greater operational efficiency, improve yield, contribute to ESG (environmental, social, and governance investment) initiatives, and improve tenant experiences.

One of the most eye-opening talks that we went to was a conversation with Laura Hines-Pierce, the co-CEO of Hines – a global real estate investment firm.

While there, we took in some original material on how and why the landscape of real estate has begun leaning toward tech.

According to Laura, real estate was actually one of the last industries to experience tech disruption. But still, tech has begun to shape the real estate landscape in a big way. As real estate professionals have rolled over in terms of generations, more of them are used to working with technology. They’re ready to see where these tools can take them. For over five years, Laura has been trying to embrace all of the solutions that tech has to offer.

How can this adoption actually become beneficial? Well, as Laura says, it is just so critical to have employees who can evaluate tech tools on an ongoing basis. They need to understand both real estate and technology. Because the tech landscape is evolving so quickly, there’s a need to constantly re-evaluate what’s going on.

Currently, the focus areas in tech and real estate are shifts from client services to tenant experiences, ESG, and affordable housing. Many different tools facilitate these areas. For the sake of ESG, tech tools are able to drive efficiency, helping to reduce consumption across the built world. When it comes to affordable housing, technology can also be a great resource: it can streamline construction and sales processes to minimize bottlenecks, reduce costs, and provide broader access – all helping boost cost-effectiveness.

In another talk featuring Lisa Pacard, Sara Rafferty, and Mollie Fadule, called “The Future of Proptech for CRE Operators, What Should Be Built?” We learned about friction reduction between residents and tenants. This issue can be solved by removing back-end human costs and improving experiences. Here, we can create a digital layer between the actual property and its resident. Ideally, the resident or tenant would be able to address any concerns by using tech tools that are prepared by the property owner or manager.

A great example of this is actually parking.

Using a parking management system as an example, the issue of efficient tenant parking is solved through a resident/tenant-facing interface that’s set up by a property’s owner or manager. The platform can be altered by management based on their specific car park. Parkable is a layer of technology that serves the tenant and makes their experience more efficient and pleasant.

Innovation and change management programs

Whenever a company or organization is making any sort of shift, it’s crucial to manage these changes. Change management is the process of describing and implementing change in both internal and external processes. This can look different depending on the context but often includes informing and conducting employees, establishing the necessary steps for the change, and monitoring pre- and post-change activities and processes to see the effects of the changes made.

Change management can be complex, sometimes requiring different groups to work together. But, you can only really ensure success by being structured and cooperative in your approach to change.

In real estate, change management is a hot topic for tech adoption. After all, shifting from analogue to digital practices can be a long process that requires effort and teamwork. To make sure that everything goes smoothly, having a change management structure or framework in place beforehand is a good idea.

When we went to a CREtech talk called ‘The Future of Proptech for CRE Operators, What Should Be Built?” we started to understand that technology and real estate really aren’t all that different in terms of investment. JPI’s Chief Financial and Investment Officer, Mollie Fadule, explained that the biggest hurdles to positive implementation are team buy-in, the integration of all systems, and the ability to use both analogue and digital tools together. She says that we should look at investing in tech the same way we look at investing in real estate. It’s all about cost: how much money you’ll save and how much money you’ll make. You can make sense of all of these intricacies by putting together a cohesive change management plan.

Innovation is actually a slow and steady process that requires a concrete, comprehensive plan. According to Property Association Australia, “Many proptechs actually have a completely new way of seeing the industry and plugging into this thinking offers the most exciting opportunities to reimagine how you operate, grow and monetise. Traditional assessment methods, therefore, risk being reactive and restrictive.”

Instead of relying on those methods, the association recommends using “Design Thinking,” which is all about asking questions like, “What would an amazing experience for my clients look like?”

At CREtech, we learned that oftentimes, this means looking at innovation from the top down, producing longer-term decisions that affect the whole organization portfolio. Sarah Shank, the Managing Director and Global Head of Innovation at PGIM Real Estate, hammers home how important it is for a business to know its priorities before adopting new tech.

How to go about change management

It’s always the right move to aim high! Strive for the best outcome when beginning your change management journey. Every management process should be adjusted to fit each individual situation. But, for the most part, these processes cover a lot of the same ground.

Organisational changes can be either adaptive or transformational. Adaptive changes are smaller, more basic changes that improve or evolve certain aspects of the organization over time. And transformational changes are more intensive, larger projects that totally overhaul the status quo. Incidentally, tech adoption can fall into either category, depending on what, exactly, is being adopted and to address which particular concern(s).

Sometimes a team will have to be created, or a person will have to be hired to focus exclusively on change management. Hearing from Sonny Kalsi, the co-CEO at BentallGreenOak, we found out that he actually hired a chief innovation officer to keep the company evolving and moving forward without sacrificing organisation and tact. Kalsi’s team hired a consultant to get the right person for the right job in this case, allocating a generous budget so they could hire the perfect person.

And in order to set these changes in motion, the process should follow a series of guidelines, like these ones by the American Society for Quality:

1) Define the change.

2) Select the change management team.

3) Identify management sponsorship and secure commitment.

4) Develop an implementation plan, including metrics.

5) Implement the change—in stages, if possible.

6) Collect and analyze data.

7) Quantify gaps and understand resistance.

8) Modify the plan as needed and loop back to the implementation step.

Here at Parkable, we actually offer onboarding assistance to make it easier for those in real estate to adopt our technology.

For instance, when Hill Laboratories decided to give our platform a chance, we were able to work with them to create the best possible integration experience. They explain, “We know that change management and adopting new technologies can be difficult for teams, so we worked with Parkable to take it a step further. We also wanted to encourage staff to pursue more environmentally friendly commutes, by incentivising cycling, walking and using public transport.

To encourage consistent use of the platform among our team, the Parkable Customer Success team shared insights and examples that included ‘incentivising’ staff to help with this process.”

We assign a customer success manager to look after our partners throughout the process of setting up their car parks. This includes:

  • Sending our toolkit with everything needed to engage your members and make your new system a success
  • Meeting with your admin team and teaching them how to be Parkable experts
  • Rolling out the new platform to your members
  • Giving you access to a local Parkable team who is always available to answer questions or offer assistance
  • Delivering off-the-charts performance reports and making suggestions on how you can improve your performance even further

And, of course, we are always happy to answer any questions that may come up during the change management process. You can read more about our specific approach to change management here.

Choosing the right vending partner when deciding to make changes simply cannot be overlooked. Parkable’s technology is constantly evolving to better meet the goals of the owners and management teams of diverse kinds of property.

In the CREtech talk “Driving Innovation: How Leading Real Estate Companies Are Embracing Innovation,” we got an even better idea of what it means to find the right partner for technology services. Sarah Shank made some suggestions. Our main takeaway is that it’s crucial to determine what the priorities need to be for each organization. It might be a good idea to establish an “Innovation Council” to come up with two or three problem statements they want to focus on. The IT department can help them brainstorm innovative solutions for these problems. Ultimately, though, it’s the business itself that should be making the final decisions, not the Innovation Council.

Shank also mentioned that it could be a good idea to include a set number of meetings in your contract with your tech provider. Doing so will ensure that both organizations are on the same page and can grow and benefit one another synergistically as time moves forward. When looking for the right fit with a tech partner, she advises taking recommendations from friends and colleagues in the business. Word of mouth cannot be discounted in this facet of the business. Ask questions about potential partners regarding work ethic, innovation techniques, and dependability.

One of our partners – Nathan Foshee, the Facilities and Real Estate Manager at Verity Credit Union – explains why he chose to adopt our service for Verity. He says, “We wanted to implement a system that allowed all our employees equal access to spots at our HQ - equity is very important to us. Parkable was the perfect solution, as the interface is so easy to navigate and it allows us to fairly allocate parking between all staff who want to drive into the office."

We prioritize creating a system that’s easy to bring on. The tech being adopted should always be geared toward accessibility on both the real estate side and the side of the tenant. Both the seamlessness and flexibility of Parkable are a push for accessibility. It’s suitable for any car park, reduces park management admin through automation, and can manage and monetise different facets of the parking experience.

Ultimately, technology should be implemented at whatever pace is best for your priorities, goals, and budget. At the end of the day, the world is always experiencing technological progress, and it’s affecting the real estate sector. So, it’s important to take steps in the right direction by exploring the world of technology, if only to address existing concerns and issues in the most efficient and effective ways possible. While change will always require some getting used to, we’ve learned that what’s worse is being left behind.

From successfully implementing our technology in over 300 organisations around the world we've established our own 7 principles of change management process. If you'd like to know more about how this might be developed for your particular property and people, request a call today.

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Get in touch if you would like more information about tenant or employee parking software or our change management process!