CRE Executives See Positive Results with Creating Operational Efficiencies Through Process Automation
Daniel Levison | May 8, 2019
As a result of the development of robotics like automation software (OET’s) astute CRE executives are taking advantage of these new technologies to implement back-office process automation. Implementation of these evolutionary products exponentially increases the level of their back office workforce’s internal productivity. CRE executives that adopt these technologies are seeing rapid improvements in their company’s internal efficiencies in transaction processing, which is translating into a more stabilized internal costs structure and overhead.
An unexpected benefit is also increased morale among operational personnel as mundane, boring and repetitive tasks are taken off their plate allowing them to utilize their more intuitive skills to increase their effectiveness and productivity even more. This is particularly helpful when you have an office manager wearing multiple hats, and they do not have a background in accounting and or financial systems. Allowing them to focus more effort and energy on marketing and revenue producing activities typically leads to more deals being completed at a faster rate.
Operational Efficiency Technologies (OTE’s)
Process automation software (known as OET’s) focus on streamlining and increasing productivity, cost savings and profitability through automation of back-office functions of commercial real estate businesses. These platforms are utilized to capture and interpret data in existing applications for the purpose of quicker transaction processing, data manipulation allowing seamless communication across multiple platforms. API Integration functionality can range from accounting software like QuickBooks or a company’s CRM, like rethink, Apto or ClientLook which all focus on CRE only.
“For many executives, automation is an innovation that is poised to transform the landscape of transaction processing in the CRE industry. For others, it is just another way of automating a process that long ago should have been simplified. Automation is a technology worth investigating because of its ability to improve efficiency, transparency, and reliability,” says Nick Prangnell, Global Business Services consulting lead, at Deloitte U.K.”
CRE executives should consider process automation where there is an insufficient, cumbersome process currently in place, where human error is inherently built into the process. The development of, cloud-based, SaaS applications enabling automation in these flawed processes have accelerated in recent years with the availability of integrated invoicing and payment tools, and more evolved workflow applications.
OET: Hype or Reality?
Automation is high on the strategic agenda of all executives in all industries. Automation is also a strategic priority for CRE leadership and will remain a priority over the decade. Executives indicate that one of their top priorities now is, and will likely for the foreseeable future, continuous process improvement (see chart below)
There is a well-established relationship between continuous improvement and automation, it increases both in productivity and improved profitability – especially as companies expand and scale their businesses.
When asked about technology priorities many respondents indicated that process automation is just as important, if not more so than implementing analytical software and cloud computing.
Although executives have been focusing on automation, over 56% stated, finance and back-office functions could still be automated (see chart below). They also stated roles least likely to be automated are knowledge-based management positions.
Using automation software is one way CRE organizations are achieving increased productivity and cost reduction relatively quickly and without major investment. Investing in automation processes early in a company’s development can significantly increase its ability to scale and grow quickly.
Automation reduces cost and removes errors: The objectives of OET’s are to eliminate, simplify, standardize, and automate routine procedures that typically because of their repetitive nature can be fraught with human error. Implementing automation provides an opportunity to improve an outdated manual process.
The Benefits of Process Automation
“There are multiple benefits to using automation,” notes David Wright, who serves as the leader of the Process Automation practice at Deloitte U.K. “Automation is scalable, reduces overhead and costs, and provides higher productivity, lower error rates, reduced risk. Those executives who anticipate implementing process automation such consider doing so in transactional processes such as accounts payable and travel and expense processing.
Automation Adoption Trends in the CRE Industry
CRE-centric automation applications, such as CommissionTrac and Brokerage Applications by CoStar along with CRM’s, such as ReThinkCRE, Apto, ClientLook, and RealNex have exploded over the past three to five years signifying a real need within the CRE industry for these types of automated efficiencies.
However, unfortunately, the majority of CRE leadership are still learning about the benefits of automation. However, as they see more of their peers continuing to take advantage of the benefits of back-office automation they will likely also move away from their historical staffing models and also reap the benefits achieved through automation.
The question is – if you are an executive or principal at a CRE brokerage company will you be looking for ways to create a more operationally efficient company?
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