Over the past eleven years, I have been dealing in software sales and technology implementation for restoration contractors across North America. Throughout this journey, I have come in contact with many experts in the field of software development and process consulting, all that play a critical role in how to properly vet the right technology for your business.
The first place most businesses start to investigate is the why. Why do we as contractors need technology? This usually stems from identifying deficiencies within their business pertaining to breakdowns in process, behaviours, or customer experience, and looking for ways to resolve them. They understand that something isn’t working as effectively as it should but can’t exactly pinpoint where the breakdowns occur and how to properly fix it.
Next, they determine >what they hope to have this new technology accomplish? Over the years as a solutions provider, we assisted in creating a technology checklist of things that would need to be reviewed while evaluating which technologies could check all the boxes. Followed shortly thereafter by who would champion this project. As for the how and when, these are usually established once a plan is in place, to determine a realistic timeline on how long it will take to successfully transition.
As part of the vetting process, we have worked with a lot of outside companies that tackle the underlying issues within the business and consult on what needs to be put in place prior to introducing technology. As a software vendor, I can tell you I am limited as to what I can recommend or demand a business change before overlaying the necessary tools. Simply put, nobody wants to be taking business advice from their technology partner. As such it puts us in an awkward position of having to breach certain subjects carefully.
Having partnered with a number of great consultants, one of the best I’ve worked with is JCMH Consulting, which has been working in Restoration for over 30 years. Our collaboration has allowed us to help countless contractors better manage the transition. Together we also collaborated on a technology checklist to help contractors evaluate the best tools for their company. This checklist was broken down into 3 main stages:
Stage One – Ask the right questions, before making a change.
Stage Two – Understand what is required, as you prepare for this transition
Stage Three – Plan for overcoming challenges and position your team for success
Let’s start by asking the right questions. In today’s modern age there is an abundance of different technologies that are available for almost anything you can think of. But, not all of these tools are designed for property restoration. Although they may be adaptable, they are unable to provide the connectivity needed to truly eliminate duplication and connect within the insurance ecosystem. In this industry integration is key. Due to the level of detail required and time sensitivity, technology needs to automate. Like any good technology, it is designed to make processes more efficient, provide stronger accountability and should reduce the need for constant administration. Above all, tools need to be flexible and easy to use as not one size fits all.
The next item on our list is understanding what resources are required to facilitate such a transition. Cash, people and structure are the 3 main pillars. Contractors should evaluate each of these areas before even starting the transition. Does your business have the capital to weather the storm financially? Do you have the right people in place to support and manage this transition? Does your business have the right underlying processes and policies in place to support this transition?
It is also important to ask your peers and evaluate what has worked for other contractors. Get a second opinion as this is an industry that is not afraid to tell you what works and what doesn’t. Seek information from other contractors, consultants or references when making a decision.
Last but not least do you have a plan in place to deal with overcoming challenges so that you can position your team for success and derail those who will try to mutiny. How do you plan to address staff resistance, promote buy-in, and ensure that staff understands the benefit this technology will deliver? Provide the proper context as to the challenges you will encounter, ensure a structure in place to educate, support, and train. Time is a luxury that nobody wants to waste, so make sure that the proper time is allocated prior, during and after the transition.
Technology by itself doesn’t solve problems or manage people. It is an extension of your business and one that requires people to operate and information to run. As a technology provider, we are always looking for new ways to innovate. Although we are great at designing tools, at the end of the day it’s the front-line people using it who should be driving the direction and functionality.
Features aside, when you are looking to embrace new technologies, you really want to treat this like finding a long-term relationship. One that you feel is both a good fit for your business, but also for your culture. Tools are only as successful as the people who use them, so you need to make sure that there is a structure in place that can support it. Above all, someone you can trust, that shares your vision and will go above and beyond to exceed expectations.
Ryan is the Sales Manager of Canam Systems. He is committed to promoting the growth of restoration companies leveraging PSA, the leading software and the only complete ERP solution for property restoration industry. Over the years, he has been directly involved in working with the PIRC on efforts to standardize data while automating the Insurance Ecosystem.