Managing the Change
When it comes to technology, there is a lot of excitement in the multifamily industry right now. More than ever, operators have the ability to optimize the performance of their portfolios while also providing prospects and residents with the experiences they demand.
But the adoption of any technology is not a decision to take lightly. That’s because implementing a new solution can be a wildly disruptive process. Diligent planning and careful communication are paramount.
Drawing on their experiences with adopting the Entrata platform, operators in the Managing the Change session at the 2022 Entrata Summit provided a wide array of advice for the successful deployment of new technologies across a portfolio.
Greg Lozinak, Chief Operating Officer at Hamilton Point, emphasized the importance of having one team member in charge of overseeing the transition to a new solution. “There needs to be one person communicating across the organization,” he said. That person should keep track of the implementation to-do list and make sure things are happening when they need to, he added.
Melody Carley, Senior Director of Field Operations Support at AIR Communities, said her company picked a “first-phase property” to implement the Entrata operating system before deploying it on a wide scale.
“We picked a property where we could see it in action and prep for success across the portfolio,” she said. The community was picked in part because the company felt the onsite team would offer unvarnished feedback on the system.
When planning the full-scale roll-out of the system, the AIR team worked closely with regional leadership to build a sensible timeline, Carley added.
In addition to detailed and cooperative planning, transparent communication about what teams can expect with a new technology is critical, according to Carley. “In the past, we oversold some solutions,” she said.
With the Entrata rollout, “we tried to be very realistic,” Carley said. “We focused on the positive and the changes it would create and told them about things they might have to get used to.”
The panelists also emphasized the importance of bringing clean data into a new solution.
Devan Cronin, Executive Vice President of Technology at Haven Residential, said her company initially opted to clean up data after migrating it into the Entrata system. “We’re still paying for it,” she said.
Now, as Haven continues to acquire new properties, the company is cleaning up community data before bringing it into the Entrata system and will simply “toss it” if it proves too problematic, Cronin added.
Comprehensive initial and ongoing training is another essential component of successfully adopting a new technology, the panelists noted, especially since daily processes are likely to change with the new system. Which, according to Lozniak, is how it should be: “Don’t assume that the way things were with the previous software is the right way to set it up at Entrata,” he explained.
Each Hanover acquisition undergoes a four-day boot camp before deploying the Entrata system, Cronin said. During this training, it’s explained how the system will benefit associates and their communities.
“Training someone doesn’t do any good if they don’t understand the why,” Cronin said.
Panelists also urged operators to find a technology supplier that will be a true partner and be forthright throughout the partnership.
Lozinak recalled telling Entrata early on: “Don’t worry about stepping on anybody’s toes. Tell us what best practices are.”