In the previous post of our twelve-part blog series on the Top 10 Technology Trends for advisors and their partners, we discussed integration and how it involves more than just an integrated workstation. The fifth trend we will discuss in this post below is workflow.
Many software applications—document management, CRM, and some portfolio/trade order management systems—come with built-in workflow capabilities that allow advisors to systematize their work. Systematization ensures that the client experience and operational processes are consistent regardless of who in the firm is doing the work. This makes it much easier to add new staff, and when a staff member is on vacation or otherwise out of the office it ensures that the client receives the same high level of service.
In addition, the efficiencies created by systematization allow the advisor to spend more time providing higher human value-added client activities (e.g., determining strategies that will improve the client’s financial situation, meeting with the client’s CPA or estate attorney, etc.). In addition, the advisor can spend more time working on growing his or her business (e.g., meeting with prospects, planning marketing activities, etc.).
One of the challenges is determining where you will store your workflows and which applications will drive specific workflows.
If you’re an advisor, in order to achieve workflow’s efficiency and consistency benefits, you will need to invest time and money mapping out your firm’s processes down to the task level. This most likely means dedicating internal resources or outsourcing the workflow documentation, as it is not optimal for the task owner to accurately map out all the necessary steps related to executing a process.
It’s not that the person doesn’t know the steps; rather, it’s because they are “unconsciously competent,” meaning that there are many steps that appear so obvious that an expert in the task wouldn’t think of documenting them. But to effectively map out the workflow, you need to know what all of those steps are, including the ones that are seemingly very obvious. This most often can only be done by someone observing the task being done, and documenting all of the necessary steps.