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    5 Tips for Vetting Real Estate Software Development Company Options

    The commercial real estate industry has undeniably embraced technology. Nearly 100% of commercial real estate companies have invested in technology and are expanding technology programs—and technology advancement continues to rank at the top of trends driving the industry forward. As in daily life, tech-powered tools are quickly becoming a standard part of real estate operations, and developers are transitioning workflows, business models, and expectations to accommodate the change. 

    While technology is certainly the new normal—there remains a learning curve in adopting new technologies and software. Real estate companies often are unsure of the available software or of the process for selecting the right technologies to meet their needs and vetting prospective technology partners. With the standardization of technology, there are key characteristics that companies should look for when shopping for software programs. 

    This guide helps developers set expectations to better understand the types of functions available and provides a framework to select the right technology partner. 

    Setting Realistic Expectations

    For more than half a century, the media has been painting an image of life-like artificial intelligence. The Jetsons had robots that could do household chores like a person; The Terminator automated national defense; and the 2001: A Space Odyssey computer HAL 9000 could simulate the functions of a human brain. While these images of technology are fun to watch on screen, they fall short of providing a realistic representation of AI or machine learning capabilities. 

    Yet, when many business leaders go to market to shop for new technologies, they often expect something akin to the media’s portrayal of technology. As an MIT Tech Review article exploring the expectation-reality gap explains, “Business leaders would love to leverage [machine learning] as a plug-and-play opportunity: ‘just input data into a black box and valuable learnings emerge.’ The engineers who wrangle company data to build [machine learning] models know it’s far more complex than that. Data may be unstructured or poor quality, and there are compliance, regulatory, and security parameters to meet.”

    Machine learning & AI, like those utilized by Northspyre, process and manage data to produce actionable insights. Rather than an all-knowing program, quality data and access to data is the key to tap into the value of machine learning & AI. At Northspyre, project-specific data is gathered from the developer throughout the project. The platform continuously processes and manages data to deliver real-time insights into the project, and it centralizes data in a single command center to democratize information across the organization and project stakeholders. This is a realistic look at how machine learning & AI can function in an organization, and while much different than The Jetsons, it is tremendously powerful and beneficial (with the added benefit that it won’t take over the enterprise).

    [Guide] Learn how the right technology solution can help you operate a  successful, modern real estate development firm. 

    5 Tips to Select the Right Technology

    Once an organization understands the function of technology and its benefits, it can begin to shop for the right tools and software to empower departments across the organization. Here are the five things that every real estate developer should look for when selecting software tools and vetting prospective partners. 

    1. Outline Your Needs: To find the right platform, you must know what needs, problems, or challenges you want to address. At its core, a software solution should eliminate daily challenges or pain points common throughout the organization like excessive time spent pulling together draw requests or streamlining complicated and time-consuming workflow approval processes. Developers most commonly face challenges related to accounting management, sharing information across departments and stakeholders, budgeting tools, and contract and invoice management. The software should include usable functions and features to address the organization’s specific needs.

    2. Cloud Based and Scalable: Many organizations have heavily invested in legacy and enterprise programs as the foundation of their technology infrastructure, but as software has advanced, these programs are proving to be inflexible and unable to scale alongside new tools. In fact, nearly two-thirds of real estate companies report challenges with legacy programs. When vetting new technology partners, focus on cloud-based software to eliminate this problem. Cloud-based technologies can be updated automatically with little to no downtime. They can grow alongside the organization and easily scale as the company grows and its technology needs become more robust. Additionally, cloud-based software is flexible and can be accessed across an organization, amplifying its ease of use. 

    3. Integration with Other Programs: As we have established, quality data is essential to machine learning and AI capabilities. Often, an organization’s internal data and intellectual property is able to provide critical insights. However, this data is often siloed within individual departments or with an individual person. To combat the siloed effect, data must be integrated across the organization, allowing software to process a complete suite of information and glean valuable and accurate insights. When shopping for software tools, ensure that any program can be integrated with other software tools to support cross-departmental collaboration. Northspyre, for example, accomplishes this by integrating with accounting software to gain the most current insights into budgets and spending patterns. As a result, the program can deliver more accurate financial forecasts and budget tracking.  

    4. Professional Support: Technology is important and valuable, but ultimately software is a tool for people to use. For that reason, the best technology partners are just that: partners. They offer professional, personal support to respond to needs and answer questions about the technology and troubleshoot problems. The best software providers are not only technology experts but also experts in the organization’s business, providing industry-specific tools and solutions.

    5. Test, Test, Test: Before making an investment in any software, be sure to test the actual software to ensure that the user experience meets expectations. A quality software partner will provide a demo and be responsive to your needs as an organization to ensure all stakeholders are satisfied with the solution. Take advantage of it. The organization should incorporate as many leaders and departments as possible to gain insights and ensure the program will work throughout the company, not only for specific departments. 

    There is no question that every organization is incorporating new technology solutions. The next step in the evolution of technology adoption is to strategically invest in technology solutions that will best serve the organization. By understanding the capabilities of technology today and properly vetting prospective partners, organizations can ensure they will invest in programs that will serve them well into the future. 

    Download our white paper Software Misalignment in Real Estate Development: the Right Tech for the Job for more information on how to choose and onboard the right technologies to help your firm gain a competitive edge.

    Mismatched Software Guide


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