Choosing Software That Works for Your Advisory Firm—Part 5: How to Implement New Technology

 

In my last post, the fifth in a six-part series on the process for choosing and implementing the right technology for your advisory firm, we discussed the importance of planning. Now that we have a clear and well defined plan, it’s time to get started executing your technology ideas so that improving your business can become a reality.

The effective implementation of technology is not a one-time event, but an ongoing journey. The execution phase is the centerpiece of this journey.

Right Readiness and Incentives

The first step in the execution stage is to ensure that everyone who is involved is clear on their roles and their specific task responsibilities. In addition, it is very important that there are clear measurements and optimally some incentives to encourage and track effective implementation.

What we typicallyobserve in the execution of a technology implementation is that in the vast majority of cases, money and effort is focused on the implementation of the technology itself. This seems logical, but in reality, what is more effective is a resource budget balanced between the technology, business process improvement, and training/behavioral change. It’s critically important that enough time and money be allocated for behavioral change to ensure that your employees will effectively use your new technology.

Typically we see resources allocated in a98:1:1 (98% spent on technology, 1% spent on business process improvement, and 1% spent on training/adoption). Instead, it really needs to be closer to a 33%, 33%, 33% approach.

As we mentioned above, incentives and measurements are an important part of an effective implementation. We encourage advisors to create visibility into the business metrics that should be improved by the new technology implementation. If certain milestones are achieved, everyone involved should be acknowledged and rewarded for their role. Remember: the activities that are monitored and the activities that get rewarded are usually the activities that get done.

Inevitably, there are occasions when a high-performing employee is not effectively completing or executing assigned tasks. This almost always boils down to one of three issues, and it is the job of the leader to determine how they should be addressed. The three issues are:

  1. Will: Does the employee have appropriate motivation?
  2. Skill: Is this a task the employee knows how to complete? Has she done it successfully in the past?
  3. Time: In addition to his day job, does the employee have the time to complete this task?  Where does the time to execute the task appear on his calendar?

For example, a superb administrative assistant might not be motivated (the will) to implement a CRM system because she feels that the technology will make her job more difficult.  We have often observed that a high-performing employee may have a very low readiness on a specific technology implementation task. Or you may assign an important workflow mapping process to an advisor, but she is spending 50+ hours a week meeting with clients and doesn’t have the time to get the task accomplished at a high quality level. When you’re noticing readiness (will, skill, and/or time) issues, you have a few options:

  1. Understand what would be required to provide the appropriate level of motivation.
  2. Provide trainingor an outside resource that the employee can work with to get the skill to accomplish the task.
  3. Assign/delegatethe task to someone else.
  4. Delaythe task/implementation until the right resources are available


Remember to Keep Yourself on Track

One of the most important things in the execution phase is to schedule a regular update/project planning meeting in which all the key stakeholders are involved. At ActiFi, we have done many software implementations and—to be frank—not a single one of them has gone exactly as planned. That’s because the best laid plans don’t always mesh with the day-to-day activities and uncontrollable factors of life. It is important to have a regular update meeting where you can adjust the tasks themselves, due dates, budget and time resources so as to ensure a successful outcome. Remember to be flexible, because the only guarantee you have with a technology implementation is that it will not go exactly as you plan or hope.

Now that we are effectively executing, we want to make sure that the business benefits we anticipate materialize. In the next blog post we will discuss the fifth step in ActiFi's 'Bridge Process': Monitor.

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