When it comes to implementing new technology, the best firms involve staff members early and often.

Take West Des Moines, Iowa-based Foster Group’s decision matrix, for instance. For each technology project under consideration, advisors and other team members from departments such as marketing, operations, and administration work together to determine the characteristics a technology initiative should have to work well. Then they weight each characteristic by overall importance in the decision-making process. For example, the group determined that the user-friendliness of a document management system was worth 20% of the decision, while reporting flexibility and adaptability was worth 15%, and so on. Once those characteristics are decided upon, Travis Rychnovsky, who heads up the firm’s operations and IT departments, along with the firm’s IT administrator, assesses vendors and presents to the team only those providers who match up best.

At LarsonAllen in Minneapolis, the process is much the same. “We invite input from the beginning about what the needs are, and then turn those needs into requirements that the technology and the vendor must meet,” says Chris Johnson, the RIA firm’s director of operations.