Enthusiasm goes into overdrive when an organization has decided to automate key processes for real estate investments. Integrating technology improves efficiency, and that can help investors increase assets under management without increasing headcount that can’t be sustained during a downturn.

However, the best advice is often to slow down.

Choosing a software is a significant investment in time and money, and it’s a decision you want to get right. To help with that process, here are five questions to consider as you weigh your options:

1.Who needs to have input into this decision?
Bring together all the key players. A cross-functional team will ensure that no component is missed or misunderstood. Consider including someone from every role in the full Life of the Asset from acquisitions to dispositions.
 

2.Which functions do you need to automate?
With your automation dream team intact, bring the group together and hash it out. Brainstorm and make your wish list of functionality that would make everyone’s lives easier.
 

3.Which functions are the highest priority?
In case you can’t have everything on your list, categorize your list into functionality that you “need to have” or “would be nice to have.” Prioritize your top 10-15 requirements. Gaining consensus at this phase will save you valuable time in the long run.

A good system will provide basic functionality including:

  • Support for the entire Life of the Asset with functionality that covers everything from acquisitions through dispositions.
  • Management of every part of the investment including financing/mortgage and performance of the asset.
  • Delivery of simple reporting any time as needed.
  • Search functionality and the ability to manage the content.
  • Integration with Excel for modeling.
  • Keeping track of loans, equity, distressed assets and other non-traditional investments.
  • Giving investors, PMCs, JVs, and lawyers transparency with easy access 24/7.
     

4.Which providers offer what you need?

At this point, you will know exactly what you want, and now you are better informed to research providers. Don’t assume that the paid placements at the top of the Google search are the best providers for you. Also, keep in mind that what works for another firm may not work for yours.

Take all of this information into account, and dig a little deeper to make a list of your top 5-10 vendors. Invite them to participate in a request for information (RFI). The providers who respond to your satisfaction will help you select your final 2-3 candidates.
 

5.Who are the professionals leading the organization?

Understand that the sales people can be great, but don’t get too attached. Make sure you have a comfort level with the executives, leaders and your daily contact. This will give you a preview into what it’s like to be their customer.

This methodical approach to the selection process will help you find the best provider and ensure greater long-term success with your technology. 

Jeff Wilson has more than 20 years of experience with real estate investment technology, and is founder and CEO of Pereview Software based in Dallas.