Choosing Software That Works for Your Advisory Firm—Part 6: Ensuring New Technology Meets Your Business Goals

 

In my last post, the sixth in a series on the process for choosing and implementing the right technology for your advisory firm, we talked about execution and ensuring that the correct resources in both time and money were allocated to ensure success.

Now that we have a successful initial software implementation, it is time to focus on ensuring that the business results that we anticipated are being realized.

One critical step is having a clear process and defined metrics to measure the progress towards the business goal. For example, if you implemented a systematic rebalancing tool that is designed to free up time for your advisors to meet with more clients, we would first decide what metric we want to measure, for example, number of client meetings per week. Once we’ve established what we want to measure, we can determine what the results were pre-software implementation, set a goal for what we would like them to be (e.g., increase by 20%), and then we can measure progress on a weekly basis toward our goal. 

In addition to monitoring the business metrics, we may also want to include an incentive such as a bonus or special recognition for individuals achieving the desired business goal. Sticking with our example, if on a 12-week average of meetings per week, we have increased the number of clients we have been able to spend time with by 20%, then we might have a special company event, e.g., a fun day during the work week.

One of the biggest issues in the monitoring stage is ensuring that your team is actually adopting the technology. Remember that 100% of the business benefit is tied to employees of the practice actually using the new software solution. In addition to monitoring the result, you need to also monitor the usage of the software tool. For example, if you have a weekly staff meeting, spend a few minutes reviewing and discussing the software adoption.  Ensure that every employee understands that adoption is NOT optional. If a staff person is not leveraging the software’s capability, you need to ask them to explain their rationale.

It is rare that a new software implementation doesn’t require tweaking and iteration. You should assume from the beginning that once the new tool is launched, your work is not done. You and the firm need to remain open to ideas and that will require employees to discuss how the implementation can be improved. Instead of enabling the employee to say, “Well, this new system doesn’t work for me,” ask them to be very specific with why and what would have to change in order for it to meet their needs. Then determine if what they desire is feasible and if so, implement the change

Something important that we recommend to firms undergoing a software implementation is that they set up a process committee. As an example, it can be structured similar to an investment committee. Even after an investment committee creates a perfect allocation for today’s market, that doesn’t mean that six to twelve months from now the same allocation will be equally effective. Similarly, the business processes that your firm uses to meet the needs of your clients will evolve as technology changes and as clients’ needs evolve. Therefore, you need to have a forum to evaluate if process changes are necessary and you need to make those changes to ensure that the business outcomes that you initially targeted are achieved.

One important note: generally speaking, many people tend to optimize the particular task they work on while inadvertently sub-optimizing an overall firm process. Said another way, it’s human nature for people to optimize a process or task to make it easier for themselves, but while doing so, it may create inefficiencies and frustrations for others. The process committee can ensure that any changes made to a particular task that might benefit an individual do not create inefficiencies for the rest of the firm.

In our next posting, the final one in this series, we will recap what we have learned and how you can pragmatically apply the five-step ActiFi model to all of your software selection and implementation needs.

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