Look closer to get more from existing technology

Friday, August 07, 2009 14:54
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Look closer to get more from existing technology

I was speaking with an advisor this week that is evaluating client-reporting solutions. His team has requested a specific vendor based on a trial run they held, where they found the user interface and overall usability of the system appealing.

In the course of our discussion, we surveyed the current slate of technology products and services deployed at his firm. This practice has made some smart moves, having forged the core of their business processes around CRM and choosing a financial planning system that integrates with that CRM solution.

 

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As it happens, the existing financial planning software has significant aggregation and reporting capabilities that were largely untapped. When queried as to why this was not an option, the response was simply that his group had not found the system easy to grasp and perhaps not intuitive.

 

Now I can be somewhat heavy handed with vendors that do not invest a good deal of their development effort on the user interface and workflow within a system, however, that said, practices also need to insure they take advantage of every resource when adopting a new solution.

Process is central to wringing as much feature and function out of you existing tools as it is to any other procedure in your business. Just as a business assembles requirements that map their human workflow to prospective software solutions they are evaluating, that step should shift post-purchase to assessment. Your users divert their focus to training programs available to maximize on your investment.

Vendors worth their weight who do business in our industry provide several layers of opportunities to become truly proficient with their systems. In addition to the free demos that come with any system, you should also find:

  • Schedule of live training events available as webcasts
  • Pre-recorded sessions from previous webcasts
  • resource center with small text or multimedia how-to’s
  • Links to opportunities for paid training or certification

This most obviously helps heighten the ratio of customers they retain successfully long-term. More importantly for you as a financial practice, it goes a long way toward giving you the return on investment for capital spent. When you encourage and prepare your staff (and yourself) as experts on the tools you need to manage your business, you spend much more time serving your customers and carrying out processes that contribute to revenue.

In the case of this advisor, taking the extra step of investing in comprehensive vendor-provided training will bring his team to a high performance level in their system. This will open the door to a wider array of features in the system to the benefit of their process and their customer service capacity. Of equal importance, and a return on investment (ROI) validation, this advisor will not have to use capital and resources for:

  • Staff to continue evaluations of additional vendors
  • Expending dollars and labor for any type of data conversion
  • Introduce new processes
  • Distract his practice’s attention away from customers.

 

 

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