Patrick focuses on bringing configurable enterprise solutions to North American financial organizations. Patrick began his career at Advicent as an Inside Sales representative. Patrick's passion is learning about workflows and challenges at financial advising firms, and providing perspective that drives revenue, culture and modernization. Connect with Patrick on Twitter - @Hannon_Advicent
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Enterprise software purchasing processes are complex. Most of which are messy layers of budget restrictions, inaction, complicated decision-making processes, and department battles. The most difficult situations often result from leaders who are simply trying to make it to retirement without rocking the boat. Here are a few suggestions to make sure your enterprise software evaluation is a positive experience for everyone involved.
1. Understand integrations
Not all integrations are created equal. Some integrations are included just to check a box on a retail application, while others are built to solve a problem. I was speaking at a roundtable at the WealthManagement.com Awards when another executive gave a great reminder to the group: “focus on the problem the integration is solving, not adding another logo. At its core, what is the goal of the integration?”
Too often, I am asked, “Do you integrate with so and so?” I wish more business leaders would say, “we think integration with X would do Y for our company. Do you think that is accurate or do see other ways to accomplish that?” A checklist of integrations may feel like work, but it is not. The real work and solutions are to whiteboard the issue you are trying to solve. Do this with each vendor and you will truly understand your problem, expose the weakness of vendors, and reduce the “noise” in the buying cycle.
Ask yourself why you want a specific integration and center the conversation on solving for that need. You will often find other solutions available to you.
2. Determine if your firm needs configuration vs. customization
The days of customization are over. As an enterprise-focused organization, we want to provide the best speed to market and most repeatable steps for our development teams and cutting edge R&D. We cannot do that if we are building multiple versions of the same thing. The answer for Advicent—and many other organizations—is to focus on the development of easily-configured tools. Allowing for options beyond branding changes, but limits the amount of work for our partners and development.
Think about which type of problem your firm is facing:
- If the problem is simple or common, an appropriate retail solution likely exists.
- If the problem is unique—your competitors do not have this same issue—then custom is the way to go.
- For other firms who seek more options, a configured solution often provides the best value.
Seek clarity around the differences between an out-of-the-box solution (often called “retail”), a configured tool (flexibility at low cost), or a custom build (you have a unique and specific problem). If your problem aligns with the correct type of solution, you should receive the right value for the investment.
3. Swim lanes
A great example of good configuration is what we call “swim lanes.” One of the best reasons to work with Advicent is our ability to provide a platform approach. Organizations with hundreds or thousands of advisors cannot reasonably expect one planning tool to fit all the needs of every single advisors. The wide range of needs should cause a firm to ask about swim lanes during the buying cycle. At Advicent, we can offer a different experience for advisors focused simple goal-based plans, those who want client-driven experiences, or those who want to address sophisticated needs.
By offering different experiences, or swim lanes, we can drive higher adoption, targeted training, and less friction to the client and advisor experience. Smart design and effective implementation can save a ton of time.
Divide your users into a few sub-groups with specific needs. By grouping users together based on general needs, firms can efficiently satisfy more of their advisors roadblocks or issues.
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