April 27, 2011

Choosing Software That Works for Your Advisory Firm—Part 4: Building an Action Plan

In my last post, the fourth in a six-part series on the process for choosing and implementing the right technology for your firm, we talked about getting clear on the business outcomes that your firm is focused on achieving, as well as an approach to select potential technology vendors that are most likely to enable you to achieve your goals.

Now that we have identified clear outcomes, the next step is to put in place an action plan. The plan will enable you to effectively and consistently execute on a task-by-task basis in a manner that steadily moves you and your team toward achieving your goals.

When it comes to planning for your software implementation, there are two big mistakes that tend to be made.

First, advisors tend to overestimate how much they can get done in a specific period of time while underestimating what they can accomplish over the long term.

Second, most people do not allocate specific meeting time nor use effective and clear agendas. These steps are imperative and, in fact, we recommend that you treat your software selection and implementation program just like you would an important client project.

Something important to remember when it comes to planning is that your plan does not have to be elaborate. A simple Excel spreadsheet containing the tasks, due dates and task owners will often suffice. It’s also important to calendarize a regularly scheduled update meeting—weekly or biweekly—with a clear agenda and

 

objective. It is important to update the project plan in the meeting.  Within the meeting, you should have clear roles as to who is facilitating and who is updating the plan.   

Readiness = Willingness to Complete the Task, PlusThe Skill to Do the Work Involved, PlusHaving Enough Time Allocated to the Task, in Addition to Doing Your Daily Job

Probably one of the more important steps as you review the plan is to determine the readiness level of each task owner, especially when a task is overdue. When tasks are not being completed, what we typically find is that a software implementation task has been assigned to a high-performing employee who does not have the will, the skill, or the time to work on that particular task. Put another way, just because someone is good at meeting with clients doesn’t mean they’ll be good at performing a software implementation task. Moreover, taking away someone from a revenue-producing activity is ultimately only going to frustrate the individual and the firm. So make sure you appropriately assign tasks to individuals who have the ability to execute—or the time to learn how to execute—and to someone who will enjoy the task and do it well.

By having a clear plan with specific task ownership and recurring time allocated to adjust the plan as circumstances change or new information comes in, you will  better position yourself for the next step, which is execution.

In the next blog post, scheduled to appear in AdvisorOne on May 4, we will discuss the fourth step in the 'Bridge Process': Execute.

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