Real estate, as all of us know, has increasingly become a technology-driven industry. As such, it is safe to say that all real estate organizations – brokerages, franchisors, real estate teams, MLSs, Realtor associations, even agents – should have a strong and well thought out technical plan.
The scope, detail and goals of the plans will differ, of course, but they all share the same purpose: They align a full team – leadership, management, staff, contracted service providers and tech team – around common goals, timelines, expectations, costs, resources and outcomes.
A technical plan helps companies make big changes and meet large goals by clearly outlining how to get to where they want to go. Therefore, building a smart technical plan is crucial; companies looking to implement one should follow five important steps.
Step No. 1 - Determine goals
In building a technical plan, companies should break down their large goals into clearly defined and specific tech components so that the technology resources and plan align with their goals. A million-dollar idea become less valuable if its technology budget runs way past its limits.
Also, keep in mind that the process of assessing realistic capabilities in the technical plan will also probably force companies to refine or adapt their business plan when they realize the potential challenges in implementing the technology needed. In many cases, building a technical plan leads companies to revise their business goals to make them more clear, feasible and more cost-effective.
Overall goals can be general, such as “Being the most responsive brokerage,” but they need to break down into specific, measureable criteria. Some criteria that support the responsive goal include:
- Inquiries are addressed with 30 minutes.
- When clients receive properties, the system presents the reasons for their selection.
- The system sends monthly neighborhood trend reports.
STEP No. 2 - Assess current systems and capabilities
During this step, companies should assess what they have, what they need and how these fit into their stated goals. Here, companies determine the internal resources they have versus the expertise they will need to hire as consultants or the capabilities they purchase as third-party software.
They also must evaluate their current technology vendor contracts – which they want to continue, which they need to continue and what and how they can request customizations from specific vendors.
Companies need to determine how they want to frame their service-level agreements with their vendor partners: technical support, customization, development timeframes and more.
Step No. 3 - Set priorities and develop realistic plan
Any technical plan requires setting priorities. Companies will not be able to achieve everything they want to do; they also cannot do everything perfectly. In this step, companies must determine what technical efforts are most important to focus on and to what degree to meet their goals.
This exercise requires a realistic evaluation of what companies can achieve within their budget and timeline constraints. A trusted third-party expert can be valuable here, as it is easy to become overly optimistic at this stage of the planning process.
Step No. 4 - Set milestones
Now companies can begin making a detailed roadmap that outlines how they will meet their technical objectives by setting milestones. Big achievements best follow specific, sequential tasks.
In this step, organizers set deadlines for specific important deadlines along the way to achieving the technical plan’s goal. Many technical plans track a 12- or 18-month course (some are longer, of course). Plans of this length typically break down into five phases with associated milestones.
Companies should also establish measurement protocols that will apply throughout the technical plan’s timeline. This allows the leadership and technical teams to measure progress toward goals, to address problems before they get big and make important decisions to questions that arise along the way.
Step No. 5 - Execute on the plan, measure and adapt
After building the technology roadmap, it’s time to execute the smart plan. Companies should constantly measure results and progress and prepare to tweak their plans and executions accordingly.
As with any smart plan, it must remain a living document, and must be flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions – whether they be results along the way; changes to company structure, resources or goals; or external factors.
A technical plan gives companies a detailed map for how to get to where they want to go with their technology. Without a smart plan with these steps, companies will flounder in their efforts and end up with subpar outcomes at higher costs that do not deliver on their goals. For expert perspective and guidance on building a technical plan for your company, reach out to T3 Sixty senior vice president of information systems consulting Mark Lesswing at email@example.com.