The technology in our lives and in our businesses always needs attention. From hardware to software to cloud-based systems, there is always something new to buy or upgrade. Bottom line, advisors’ technology is in a constant state of transition. Unlike the phrase made famous by Nike, however, you don’t “just do it” when it relates to transitioning to new technology. Everything requires some level of planning in order to realize success and ensure stability.
A commonly overlooked area as it relates to maintaining technology involves regular upgrades to your existing systems. This includes simple software updates and patches for programs such as Java, anti-virus software, browser upgrades, etc., as well as more complex updates to new operating systems and core business solutions. It is important to strategically think about the potential impacts an upgrade can have on your productivity. We all have horror stories: You think an upgrade is no big deal and then you spend the next couple of hours or even days resolving unforeseen issues.
To address this issue, a simple best practice is to identify the best day of the week to implement an upgrade. For example, my preferred day is Thursday afternoon. Overall business volume is generally lighter on Fridays, which provides a lower risk environment to deal with unexpected issues. If the upgrade creates significant problems, then we have the weekend to resolve them or fall back to the original installation.
The bigger the transition you’re making, the more careful planning will be required to ensure successful implementation. When there are a number of variables and tasks involved, a project plan prepared on Visio or Excel can make all the difference in achieving success. Sometimes you might even realize the initiative is more complex than you thought.
A thorough project plan can be especially helpful when a system is used by a majority of your employees. You can use the project plan as the framework to share the information and set expectations with the employees involved. Ideally, you are trying to minimize any surprises. Certainly the benefits of thorough communication are much better than the repercussions of employees not being fully informed. Therefore, employee communication and awareness is a task that should be marked “critical” on the project plan.
Developing various use cases is another best practice for technology transitions. Common use cases involve something you do today with the existing system and how you will complete the same task on the new system. Use cases can range from very simple to very complex, so it’s important to aim for a balance of types and styles. Use cases can also be a testing tool as well as a great training tool.