From the October 2012 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

September 25, 2012

Why Are You Waiting to Upgrade?

Without a good reason, you’re just delaying efficiency gains

If I were to keep track of every conversation I have with advisors, a majority of the topics would revolve around why they are waiting to do something with their technology. Sometimes there are excellent reasons to wait: maybe for compliance reasons, staff availability or budgeting. Sometimes, however, waiting may seem to have good reasons behind it when in reality it is only masking procrastination. Ultimately, waiting is delaying efficiency gains.

What is your firm waiting to do with technology? Are you still running Windows XP? Generally speaking, once an operating system release is considered successful, it is a best practice to upgrade. By waiting, you are not only giving up functionality enhancements, you are also missing important security improvements. Windows Vista was widely thought to be a disappointment, but Windows 7 has been very successful. If you’re still using Windows XP, put together a plan to upgrade to at least Windows 7 or be an early adopter of Windows 8, which is scheduled for general release on Oct. 26.

Perhaps the most common task advisors are waiting to do involves the solutions they currently use in their office. Generally, they’re waiting on an upcoming software release that includes new functionality. The unfortunate reality of this situation is that the time line is beyond the advisor’s control. There is also the risk that the new functionality will not meet the advisor’s expectations. So what can you do? First, stay informed of the development time line, and request screenshots of the new functionality. Second, consider being part of the beta testing process so you can be one of the first advisors to try it out. Third, be ready to evaluate other options if the new functionality does not meet your needs. Don’t give up on achieving your efficiency goals, but be prepared to search for another solution.

Advisors frequently conduct a thorough evaluation of their technology needs when planning for an office expansion or relocation. For example, say your office lease is expiring next year, at which point you will upgrade your technology infrastructure and hardware. However, if your current infrastructure is below par, you shouldn’t wait until you move to address the issue. Any steps you take prior to the move should ultimately result in less work later. For example, if it is time to upgrade your server, don’t wait for the lease to expire; take the necessary steps to upgrade the server today so it doesn’t become a bigger problem as time goes on. A better solution, depending on your firm’s specific needs, is to consider using a cloud server solution. Companies like Rackspace and Amazon offer pay-as-you-go cloud server solutions; maybe you won’t need a server room in your new location. Take the time to consider all your options, and you might find a better and easier way to meet your infrastructure needs.

Sometimes the reason for waiting to complete a technology objective involves finding the right employee or consultant to do the work. For example, maybe your next hire will be responsible for making your office truly paperless. You shouldn’t rush to fill an important position in your firm just to complete one project. However, you could make headway by identifying work that could be done prior to making the hire. Start by identifying the budget and any hardware or software dependencies, and define your ultimate goals. These are items that could be addressed—and likely should be addressed—by an experienced team member. 

For many projects, it can be all too easy to wait. Business will continue to get done, and there is always tomorrow. But then tomorrow turns into next week and next month, and you know the rest of the story. Think about your waiting list of technology items: Do you really need to wait anymore? Frequently, taking action on these items leads to great improvements, and you might find yourself wishing you had done it all sooner.    

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