In the previous six posts in this series on the process for choosing and implementing the right technology for your advisory firm, we provided you with a detailed step-by-step process when doing so. On the surface, it may seem a bit daunting to accomplish all of the tasks we suggested. However, it is not necessary to do every step at once in a linear fashion. In fact, you will most likely find yourself coming back to elements that you skipped in order to achieve the business results that you are committed to. Although this might seem a bit inefficient, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and thus, you may need to skip specific tasks until you have more information that is learned accomplishing a different one.
Focus on Executing and Monitoring Your Business Results
It’s okay if you don’t follow the five steps exactly. Each firm has certain natural strengths and activities that it does well in the normal course of running its business. These activities will align with some of the specific steps and can be completed in the course of managing the business. For example, if you already conduct an effective weekly staff meeting where you review strategic initiatives and client projects that are under way, you may not need to do anything incremental for your software project. From an “execute” step, you can use your existing meetings to review the software implementation project and discuss key accomplishments, next steps, etc.
One key observation of advisors going through a software selection process is they generally overweight the initial step of selecting the software and underweight the back-end steps of executing and monitoring. While there are important differences in various software applications, the gap between vendors is generally narrowing. Therefore, your emphasis needs to be on how your firm is going to execute and effectively monitor the results ensuring that the expected results materialize versus making sure you have every software bell and whistle up front.
How to View Vendors
Another key aspect of software selection and implementation is the pace or speed in which software vendors are improving their product. Historically, a vendor might only come out with one release a year. Now, it is common for vendors to release significant new functionality three or more times annually. Therefore, you are not simply buying the vendors products as they stand today. Rather, you are investing in an ongoing relationship and making a bet that the vendor will continue to refine and improve the product to better meet your needs.
Defining Your Requirements
When working with a vendor, both at the initial installation phase and throughout your relationship, it’s important that you effectively communicate your requirements in a way that minimizes misunderstandings. In general, advisors tend to provide less-than-specific feedback on what improvements or needs they have to their vendors. This causes frustration for both the advisor and the vendor as new software releases then don’t always include the specifics of what the advisor desires.
The term “define requirement” seems to mean something a little bit different to everyone and it is important that when you communicate to a vendor (or even an employee) that the two of you have a common understanding of what the particular requirement or process is. Make sure you’re all on the same page as it relates to what requirements mean, e.g., a