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The best commercial real estate software can offer developers numerous competitive advantages, including reducing costs, streamlining workflows, and ensuring better project outcomes. However, investing in the wrong solution can cause severe problems like overcomplicated tasks, reducing visibility, and making the journey to a successful closeout harder than it needs to be. Unfortunately, marketing hype and slick sales pitches can make it difficult to separate the genuine from the artificial.
To help you avoid paying for a massive headache, here’s a look at some real estate technology platforms and their most significant drawbacks if your operation’s success relies too heavily on them.
Despite being a force-fit solution, spreadsheet programs still rank as the sector’s most popular real estate technology. The software is used worldwide by millions of organizations representing every sector of industry. The platform occupies that position within the industry due to its ease of implementation and usability. A recent survey of real estate developers found that 95 percent of respondents utilized the software. Project teams use the spreadsheet program to store vendor bids, contracts, invoices, and change orders the same way they did when it was released in 1985.
However, spreadsheets can be more of a liability than an asset used to manage data in a real estate development context.
Although spreadsheets are very good at storing information, their design makes them a poor tool for project management. When development, accounting, and other teams keep separate records, they create data silos that complicate budget reconciliation. Tracking documents sent in by hundreds of vendors can become incredibly tiresome for complex projects. Data silos are also bad for project visibility because they make it easy for cost overruns to go unnoticed.
In addition, spreadsheets' dependence on manual data entry means that project managers must spend hours preparing critical reports. Because draw request packages can run hundreds of pages, leads have to dedicate a significant portion of their workday to low-value tasks. Firms can bring on employees to act as spreadsheet admins but bringing on staff to fill that role hurts the bottom line.
Even worse, minor keystroke errors on critical reporting documents can have multibillion-dollar consequences.
Spreadsheets were a revolutionary solution when introduced and are still highly valued today. But more advanced platforms can help development teams create streamlined workflows and ensure better project deliveries.
Construction Management Software
Emerging in the early 2000s, construction management software facilitates communication between field and office teams, collaboration between designers, and job site safety and quality reporting. It also allows users to manage project bids, invoices, and spending. For many years, the robustness of those features and its first-rate customer service have made it a popular solution in the real estate sector.
Despite its pervasiveness, construction management software has some downsides that make it a less-than-ideal choice for real estate developers in 2022.
For one thing, design complexity has made implementation challenging for many companies. Several users of one leading construction management software have expressed frustration with interface issues, which means mastering a new program can take days of training. Some customers have found that the best way to utilize the software is by assigning an administrator to set up and oversee the program.
That said, top providers offer customer support to help their clients overcome their implementation and usability issues. But a long implementation phase is a concern for many organizations that have used that kind of software.
Another problem with many of these programs is that some of their features require manual data entry. Having to type in project information can be very time-consuming on complex projects. The lack of automated functionality also opens the door for keystroke errors to affect the reconciliation and reporting process. Combined with their cumbersome interface, these platforms have technical limitations that can make them feel more than a little outdated.
Accordingly, this type of software is better utilized as a collaboration tool rather than a holistic real estate development solution.
Accounting software is another another popular real estate technology solution. The software has risen to prominence because they come equipped with valuable tools for project managers, project team members, and accountants. Since debuting in the 1980s, these platforms have become considerably more advanced, and different iterations have emerged to meet the needs of different-sized firms. Today, purpose-built real estate accounting platforms include modules for end-to-end procurement, marketing, leasing, business intelligence, energy management, reporting, and invoice and payment processing tasks.
Multifaceted functionality, global availability, and consistent release of innovative features have made this type of software an industry-leading real estate technology solution.
Like construction management platforms, these programs often receive criticism for being overly complicated. Many users noted that accounting programs could be difficult to set up and use. Several customers found it tough to generate reports, delete duplicate information, and assign different roles. Other users took issue with its lack of basic features and clunky interface.
The significant time investment required to train employees to use accounting also cropped up as a common complaint. Similarly, the all-purpose nature of this software type leads to staffers being given responsibilities outside of their roles, like saddling accounting personnel with project management tasks. When this happens, employees can become overwhelmed, and project performance can suffer.
For that reason, you shouldn’t let a platform’s all-purpose functionality create “job creep” within your organization that leads to diminished productivity.
However, unlike legacy or force-fit solutions, top accounting software seamlessly integrates with other platforms. That feature enables project teams to expedite implementation, sync information, and achiever better project outcomes. Because of that functionality, you could consider accounting software an essential piece of a larger real estate technology solution.
Regardless of domain, depending on generalist or legacy platforms can be frustrating because they are too basic or complex to meet your specific needs. That's why developers should remember that the best software solutions are purpose-built when shopping for real estate technology.
Book a demo with the Northspyre team today to find out how our automated AI platform can make the work of real estate development faster, easier, and better.
Tag(s): Real Estate Technology
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