Transwestern, a leading national commercial real estate firm, recently selected Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management to support its business goals. Those include better alignment of two major divisions (service and development) and executing on aggressive growth plans, while continuing its commitment to client satisfaction and moving towards a more productive workforce.
CFO Steve Harding and CAO Mike McLain oversee finance and operations for Transwestern. We spoke with them about how moving to a cloud-based system will give employees the opportunity to spend more time on clients and less on administrative tasks, and the value of putting the right tools in the hands of its team members.
Can you tell us about Transwestern and your growth objectives?
Harding: Transwestern is a national commercial real estate company with 34 offices in the U.S. and 2,200 team members. We provide services like property management, agency leasing, tenant advisory, research, sustainability services, and investment sales. We’re in an expansion and growth period and have announced aggressive goals to double our revenue in three years, and then double it again in three more years. We plan to do that through organic growth, new and expanded lines of business, and mergers and acquisitions.
It might sound a bit ambitious, but we understand there are a lot of drivers for growth and it’s not simply about revenue. We want to be the best company to work for and the best company to partner with. If we can achieve both of these, the revenue growth will follow. The way we see it, better is bigger.
“We recognized our current systems and infrastructure could not support our growth aspirations any longer.”
What role does technology play in helping achieve your goals?
Harding: We recognized our current systems and infrastructure could not support our growth aspirations any longer. Since we put our current finance and HR system in place 16 years ago, we’ve supplemented that by adding other systems to it. Today, we have 15 different systems that we either purchased or developed for producing financial statements. It’s simply not scalable for what we want to achieve with our growth goals.
McLain: Additionally, having separate systems in place and functioning properly became a tremendous undertaking. There is very little communication among the systems. We had to create numerous intermediaries and processes that allowed them to connect, which turned into a dysfunctional and inefficient structure. In the end, these systems were impeding our people’s productivity. We had to have finance and HR people with specific IT skills just to use these systems, making it hard to hire and train new team members.
Let’s talk about you. How did your earliest work experiences shape your careers?
Harding: My first job was at a dry cleaner—I was the guy at the counter checking in clothes, and I had to deal with people a lot. That includes problems like burning someone’s clothes or losing a button, or recognizing the regular clients and running out to meet them at their cars when they drove up. I learned a lot about good customer service and problem solving, which are great life experiences I still use today.
McClain: When I was 14 I had a paper route and had to be up very early— 4 a.m. to be precise —to deliver the weekend editions, which is tough for a teenager but provided me with a solid work ethic from an early age. Between that and my job at a car wash, you learn to really take pride in your work, whether you’re behind the scenes or with customers.
“We really value our team’s happiness and are proud Transwestern is recognized as a great place to work for millennials and women by Fortune magazine . . .”
You’ve said Transwestern believes happy employees equal happy customers. How will a unified, cloud-based system support this?
McClain: We really value our team’s happiness and are proud Transwestern is recognized as a great place to work for millennials and women by Fortune magazine, and most recently named one of the “50 Best Workplaces for Camaraderie.” From the minute a new employee walks in, we want this commitment to be communicated. Workday will help make some of those first experiences, like onboarding, positive and engaging. It says a lot about your company if that process is streamlined, the systems are clean and easy to use, and have a cool factor.
Other functions, like compensation management and performance reviews, will be much more efficient and productive, and provide us with more insight to make informed decisions for our team. The mobile feature capability in Workday is also a big deal for us since we have a very mobile workforce. A lot of our brokers spend a good part of their day out and about on their phones, so being able to access important information will give them even more flexibility.
Overall, we hope to achieve greater efficiency, more timely information sharing, and real-time insights, which will allow us to be more proactive in managing and growing our business.