Transferring your Broker System: Why you Shouldn't Run Parallel Systems
“Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. Only knowledge that is used sticks in the mind.”
Whether you're considering it or have already started to implement an accounting solution for your Real Estate company, I'd like to provide a useful tip to make the process successful.
To begin with, I'd like to dispel a commonly held belief when implementing the said solution; This is the concept of running parallel systems.
Now it would seem a very logical approach. Take the system you are currently using and run the new program alongside, thereby comparing financials, reporting, and functionality in "parallel."
Many professional Accountants will tell you this is a sound idea.
However, I can tell you from my nearly 20 years of working with Brokers on accounting system implementations; this NEVER goes smoothly and most often results in catastrophic failure.
Don't get me wrong; I am not saying that it will not work, but here are a few reasons that this so often doesn't succeed. If I were to put a percentage on the failure rate, I’d say running parallel systems fails 95% of the time.
So why is that?
When running parallel systems here is what you encounter –
- You are doubling the amount of work your staff is doing.
Having to enter deals in duplicate systems increases the volume of input and processing your team has to do to get their job done. This will burn them out quickly. In most instances, a mutiny occurs, and staff just refuse to input into the new system.
- When push comes to shove, your staff will run to the system they know, not the system they have to learn.
If an Agent is standing over your team demanding their payment, your staff will go to the system they know and have been using, rather than turn to the program they are in the process of learning.
- To learn something new, there has to be a period of pain.
Learning any new system is a challenge, no matter how simple it is, you and your team have to allow for a period of learning the system.
- Rely heavily on the support and training for your software provider.
It’s easy to let pride get in the way and think that you can figure it out, but learning a new system does take a guide, don’t be too proud or timid to lean on the resources provided by your technology provider. In most instances, you are paying them for this resource, so take advantage of it.
Results vary, but in my own experience, rarely do running systems side-by-side work out well. I'd offer the following tips as an alternative to running parallel.
“I’d say running parallel systems fails 95% of the time.”
Know that the average implementation timeline for an accounting solution is a 90-day cycle with 30-days to implement and 60-days of learning from a "go-live" date. Using that as a watermark, I would suggest the following.
- Take the time with due diligence.
Along with getting a detailed demonstration (or two, three, or four)- get a list of Brokerage referrals that implemented this solution. Find out what their experience was, how they did it.
- Increase the ramp time before go-live.
If you don’t feel comfortable, I suggest giving yourself more time before you go live. Instead of 30-days give yourself 60 or 90 days. Many solutions have a “sandbox” environment where you can try out the system without negatively affecting real live data.
- Run partially parallel.
Think of this as spot-checking deals, but running just a few identical deals and checking over the effects on reporting and the general ledger while confirming the balance of the deal is optimal.
- Be patient with the learning curve.
It's challenging to switch established routines. In his book Making Habits, Breaking Habits, Psychologist Jeremy Dean explains it takes 66 days to change habits. With that metric in mind, it's essential to be patient with yourself or your team when learning a new program.
I hope this insight is helpful. Mine is one perspective but comes from a broad spectrum of different brands, business models, and sizes of Real Estate brokerages. I want to see you succeed, and armed with the proper approach; your implementation will inevitably yield fruitful results.