by Spenser Segal
The investment was big, at least in terms of what you would typically spend as an organization. The results, well they never materialized. Now it’s time to find out why the software you so carefully selected failed to deliver the game changing business results you expected. Hold on tight, this might not be the ride you were expecting.
Selection of “the right” software is the first step on the road to creating the business results you desire. We’ve seen far too many firms mistakenly believe that simply selecting the “best” software will solve their business issues and increase productivity. The truth is that there are many good software solutions available for advisory practices, programs for Client Relationship Management (CRM), Portfolio Management, Document Management and Financial Planning. The key to success with all of them lies in adoption and usage.
In a recent series of blog posts for ThinkAdvisor.com we explored a 5-Step Process to Utilize Your Existing Technology. The series explained how advisors can more effectively use and get greater return on the tools in which they’ve already invested time and money. What we didn’t cover in depth there is how failure to advance through these levels of utilization can ultimately result in an apparent failure of the software and falling short of your business goals.
What we’ve seen in our experience working with hundreds of advisors and advisory leaders throughout the years, is this; the number one reason for software failure is not a failure of the software but rather a failure to lead, implement and fully utilize the software.
Level 1 Utilization — when it’s all in your head, is the default starting point for many practices. They have figured out how to get in and use some of the features, but there is not a well-designed, written process on the optimal use of the tools. If an organization fails to move beyond this level of usage, it will most certainly result in an apparent failure of the software. Without a well-documented process, effective training, and guidelines for use, users will be unlikely to understand the true capabilities of the system and struggle to make it part of their day-to-day routine. This usually results in the tools being underutilized in an inconsistent manner and not delivering the business value the advisor desires.
Level 2 Utilization — writing it down/using checklists is an excellent next step which can drive a marked increase in usage. The reason for this is the habits is can help form for the users. Defining and gaining agreement on your processes, sets the stage for successful progression, and may in fact be the most difficult part of the journey. Left unaddressed, it often manifests as a failure of the software when indeed it is a failure of the organization to manage consistent usage and accountability. An undefined process leads to confusion, inefficiency and ultimately an inability to effectively grow your practice.
Any organization that invests in software technology to move their business forward and then wallows at one of these levels in terms of usage will likely label the software as a failure. The hard truth is that it isn’t the software that failed at all, but rather the will and/or ability of leaders and users to truly adopt the software into their daily routines.
These are frequently the situations that ActiFi is brought into, so if it sounds all too familiar rest assured you are not alone. There is always an opportunity to turn the ship and begin navigating toward a successful implementation. In the next post in this series, we’ll look at utilization levels 3-5.