When scanning the ecosystem of technology solutions available to advisors, there are many providers that are gaining sizeable market share, especially in the “popular” categories like CRM, reporting, trading, imaging, financial planning, risk measurement, and other areas focused on supporting advisors. As a client and user of these products, what grade would you give each of these solutions? Given that it is “back to school” season, it is a good time to hand out report cards for your technology.
To begin grading your technology report card, list the categories of features and performance that are important to your firm. These areas could include ease of use, overall value, client benefit, technology innovation, integration with other systems, long-term importance, etc. If yours is a larger advisory firm, be sure to involve staff from multiple business areas to develop this list of categories to grade. Also decide at this time the actual “grading” that you plan to use. It could be A through F or 1 through 10, but imagine what the perfect grade might be so you can interpret and evaluate the overall results.
Next, select the technology systems that will be graded under each category. Perhaps there are one or two categories that don’t fit with every system, but there should be a few truly unusual facets to grade. For example, even your firm’s rebalancing system yields “client benefits” even if your clients never directly see or use the system. After linking the list of your technology systems with the categories, the framework of your report card is ready.
Now, be sure to include everyone who “touches” any of your technology systems when you have the staff complete the technology report card. The goal is to gather as much feedback as possible from a variety of roles that use the same technology system. This is especially critical today when there is often multiple business groups using the same product (e.g., your CRM) and the success or failure of the solution is not based on one user group.
Upon completion of the grading exercise, you should have valuable data to better evaluate where you stand with your technology systems. Often times, we base the success of a technology system on general comments or feedback — and frequently the only thing the decisions makers know is what they hear from the “loudest” users. This is part of the feedback process, but the data received using the structure of the technology report card exercise should provide a more thorough evaluation of each system. You might be surprised by some of the results, for example, evaluating how each system was graded compared with how long it has been used at your firm.