Changing and implementing a new enterprise software system in your brokerage is a costly proposition, both in terms of fees and time. Some brokerages make the mistake of viewing this as an expense, but software is an investment, and good investments return more than what you put into them. A bad implementation can sour the return on your investment.
Based on the scenarios we’ve encountered over the last several years on hundreds of deployments of all sizes, we’ve put together these tips to help ensure a smooth implementation and a solid ROI.
1. Start Early
Brokerages often hope to change systems at year end, so they don’t begin their research until the real estate market quiets down after the summer months. In reality however, implementations often take longer than originally anticipated – and the larger the company, the longer and more intricate the planning should be.
Software buyers may assume that the process of purchasing new software (or an entire software suite) simply entails signing a contract and registering a new account. Sometimes it really is that simple. But more often, there are many more moving parts. Depending on the size of your company, implementations can span anywhere from one or two weeks in smaller cases, to 6 months for very large enterprises. There are third party vendor integrations, hardware configurations, MLS approvals, training and more that factor into the timeline. Many factors are not in your direct control or the direct control of your chosen vendor.
2. Create a Requirement List
Make a clear list of requirements before starting your search and carefully define the scope of your project. Define the “must-haves” vs. the “nice-to-haves,” as no vendor or system will have absolutely every feature you (think) you need. Be willing to compromise on some “nice-to-haves” if the core functions are supported.
3. Appoint a Dedicated Lead Person from your Company
The most successful implementation projects are headed by a Project Champion, someone who acts as the single point of contact and advocates for the system from beginning to end. Be sure to identify and appoint this person very early in the process. A champion’s initial buy-in is easier to obtain when they’re involved early on.
4. Select a Vendor with a Proven Track Record
As the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” No matter how carefully you plan your project, something may still go wrong. How your vendor handles this situation makes the difference. An experienced vendor will have encountered it before and will know how to proceed. With an inexperienced vendor, your implementation is much more likely to go off the tracks.
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