A smooth implementation can significantly increase the ROI of any technology initiative. Using a well-planned and consistent approach to implementing new technology can ensure that the entire process from initial needs analysis through end user adoption goes well. To seamlessly integrate a new tool into a wealth management firm’s existing tech stack, a lot of action needs to occur behind the scenes. Our team is lifting the veil on our 7-step implementation process in order to consolidate a list of best practices to help firms implement new technology systems successfully from start to finish.
- Plan and Organize—Build a project plan that maps out the critical tasks of the implementation including the ultimate outcome, how to get there, the team needed, a timeline for execution, and the go-live strategy. It's a good way to communicate all of the elements of the project and break down the steps required into distinct tasks, owners, and accountability. It is useful to include some early “easy win” tasks to keep the momentum going. A solid plan is not just the tool to keep you on track, it also provides stakeholders transparency into the process allowing them to understand what will happen and when.
- Assemble the Team—Establish a stakeholder committee that meets monthly and includes representation from all impacted groups and interested parties. A formal Technology Advisory Board is also a great way to engage team members in technology decision making and ensure organizational buy-in. Assign a project sponsor, project lead, subject matter experts, and any internal analysts or technical resources, each with specific accountability. Make sure that each person understands their part in ensuring a successful implementation and how much time will be required of them.
- Identify Needs—Start with a process and workflow analysis to identify and agree on the problem(s) you are trying to solve. Technology implementations rarely happen without some level of process change. Assemble the relevant stakeholders and subject matter experts and interview each one to understand the different perspectives and make sure all groups and perspectives are represented. Next, create a visual workflow illustrating current processes, highlighting the pain points as well as what works and any gaps. The visual representation is often an “aha” moment for stakeholders who don’t always get that unfettered view into team members' daily challenges.
- Clearly Define Success—Review the visual representation and brainstorm potential solutions for each pain point. Work closely with the end users to build new workflows that illustrate the future state vision and the requirements to successfully implement that vision. Remember, it is important to understand why and how technology is being used in order for it to solve any problems. Next, break those workflows into management blocks of work and update your project plan if needed. Communicate the plan to the stakeholders and other interested parties so they understand the path to success.
- Address Data—Workflows don’t just represent steps in a process, they also show the path data takes from collection through analysis and reporting. Make sure the sources and uses of data are clearly represented in both the current state and future state workflows, and identify any missing or redundant data that needs to be addressed. Now is the time to clean it up to avoid problems when you go live.
- Test and Train—User Acceptance Testing is crucial to ensuring your investment in technology achieves the outcomes you desire. Identify end users who can focus on real use cases and set expectations related to the testing time commitment. Do the same for training, find one or two internal super users to help train your team from a “day in the life” perspective.
- Focus the Go-Live on Adoption—A new technology tool should never be a surprise, so communicate broadly from day one. Establish firmwide communications through stakeholders and the Technology Advisory Board. Ensure everyone impacted knows what is coming, when, why, the problems it is solving, and the changes it will bring to existing processes and workflows. User adoption is highest when the end users and stakeholders are engaged early and often in the process, feel that their voices were heard, see that the solution meets their needs to the extent possible, and that they play an active part in the project’s success. Finally, make it a point to continuously gather and track feedback for future updates and improvements.
Wondering if this will work for your wealth management firm? This implementation process works well for both agile and traditional methodologies, for large and small organizations, and for simple and complex projects.
To take advantage of F2 Strategy’s 7-step process for your next implementation, get in touch.