There are three essential components of every business – people, processes and technology. When you change one, it affects the others. Yet when it comes to implementing technology, there is a tendency for many businesses to consider it in isolation, which doesn’t always end well.
There are a few reasons business owners fall into the trap of thinking tech is different:
- you’ve paid a lot for the new tech (in dollars) so it better just work
- you’ve paid a lot for the new tech (in time) so you’re over the whole thing and just want to get back to doing your day job
- the tech provider (or someone in your business) told you how easy it was to implement, and you believed them
- the tech provider (or someone in your business) told you how much better it would make your business, and you believed them
In the cold light of day, it’s pretty clear that just buying new tech and lobbing it over to your staff isn’t enough. You need to set your team up for success, make sure you have the right processes in places (especially with regards to data integration) and finally, manage yourself though the transition.
Make no mistake, great tech can make a huge difference to a planning practice, but there’s work to do to deliver those benefits.
Team is critical
Without your people, new tech is bound to fail.
Some people on your team will probably dive right in, while others will hang back. You need to give people the time and space to get used to the idea of the new process, but at the same time, don’t let them keep doing things the old way forever.
You do need to be vigilant to ensure that everyone moves over to the new tech in a reasonable time frame. To make this possible, some people might need additional training/hand-holding/wine; it’s just part of your role as people manager to work with your team to figure out what they need to be successful and then provide it.
Process and integration
Along with getting your people on board and excited, you need to update your processes to work with the new technology. This is a great opportunity to document your business processes, too, in case the worst happens and someone needs to take over a role without any handover.
You’ll find along the way that the processes you had planned aren’t quite right. This is completely normal and just means you are human. Just update your processes and keep moving forward.
If there’s any client data in play, then integration is absolutely key.
The new tech will integrate seamlessly into your existing tech stack – we hope. If not, it’s really worth spending some time looking for an integration solution. There are loads around, for example Zapier and PieSync. These nifty tools move information between systems for you while you sleep. Any manual moving of data will drive your people nuts and eat into (or even completely obliterate) any benefits you are getting from your new tech.
Keep the spirits up
It’s worth mentioning a few points on self-management during times of change. By the time you have decided what new software to buy, remapped processes and brought your team on the journey, you will probably be completely over it and happy never to hear the ‘software X’ name ever again. At this point though, your team will only just be getting the hang of the new way of doing things.
It’s, therefore, absolutely vital to stay positive and encourage your team to play the long game as well. Without your leadership, it’s highly likely that the new tech will never get implemented. And that’s just a waste of your time and money.
Don’t expect that buying new technology is the end of your contribution. With some extra elbow grease and enthusiasm, you will be able to successfully integrate the new tech into your practice, and continue to build a more robust, more valuable business.
Sarah Penn, managing director, Mayflower Consulting, specialises in business strategy and implementation and writes a column for Professional Planner Online about how businesses adapt to change.