In my last post, the second in a six-part series, I discussed key elements that need to be assessed prior to embarking on the process of making a technology purchase decision for your advisory firm. Now that we know our current situation, it’s time to Envision what the future could be if we implement the right technology into our practice.
During the Envision step, we focus on envisioning a future state in which we can eliminate the pain points in our practice. Whether it’s a process bottleneck, a boring and repetitive task, or an opportunity to grow the business, we need to envision how technology will improve the way we currently do things.
The initial step in Envisioning is to define in specific terms the anticipated business benefits that will come from implementing the new technology. For example, let’s say that the specific business benefit we want is to increase the number of referrals we get from current clients by 50%.
Next, we need to identify the specific features and functions that are tied to the business objective. In this case, ability to generate an “ask for referral” agenda item, track referrals and generate referral reports are key functions related to the above business benefit we want to achieve.
Finally, we need to narrow the list of potential vendors, because we don’t want to spend time analyzing 25 potential vendors – instead we would like to focus on five or fewer vendors.
How do we narrow the list?
- Review the ActiFi/FPA Technology reports
- Talk to consultants at your broker/dealer or custodian about the vendors they’ve used that offer features that will help you achieve your objective
- Share ideas and learn from others within study groups on industry groups in which you participate
- Talk to your peers, other advisors, users and affiliations,attend trade shows and leverage third parties to identify leading vendors
Once you’ve identified your short list of vendors, use the specific business objective and process changes that would be
required as a foundation for driving the vendor demos.
One mistake advisors frequently make is that they allow the vendors to do their standard demos and wow advisors with lots of neat bells and whistles. However, these bells and whistles may not relate directly to the achievement of the stated business objective.
Instead, start with the business objective and processes. Ask the vendor very directly which specific features and functions that their product has that will enable the processes that will achieve the business objective. You will then gain a much more accurate view of whether the particular software will meet your needs, rather than which ones have the coolest bells and whistles.
By clearly envisioning the future and picking the vendor that is in the best position to support your ideal, you will be in the best position to put a plan together to ensure that your technology purchase succeeds.
In the next blog post, scheduled to appear on AdvisorOne on April 20, we will discuss the third step in the 'Bridge Process': Plan.