Evaluating and selecting a vendor for this type of service is an arduous process. It entails specifying your requirements, seeking and evaluating responses to a request for proposals (RFP), performing a case study and negotiating a contract.

4. Provide leadership.

Undergoing a technological transformation goes far beyond selecting and implementing the technology. For the project to be successful, the organization not only needs to be ready to accept the change-it needs to embrace and drive the change.

The business, from top to bottom, has to buy into the change. A change of this magnitude requires vision, leadership and persistence. Anything less and the project could end up delayed, over budget or flawed.
More specifically:

The project should have a leader who is accountable for managing the details and communicating with staff and the vendor.
Everyone needs to share in the project's successful completion. Consider incentives for extraordinary performance.
The project should be managed with clearly defined steps, goals and accountabilities. Each individual, including every staff member and vendor, should know what to expect and what part they play.
Everyone in the office should be kept informed about the project from beginning to end, including status updates. Staff should be encouraged to participate and to bring up problems and solutions.

5. Leverage the opportunities.

A technological upheaval provides an opportune time to evaluate operations as a whole, with the goal of weeding out inefficiencies. By implementing a new platform, you have a unique opportunity to change the organization's thinking. This may allow you to break old habits, kill some sacred cows and streamline processes. Some ideas to consider:
Adopt some "zero-based" thinking and evaluate how the operation should function given the new technological functionality. Better yet, seek ideas from your staff. They know the inefficiencies, workarounds and solutions better than you do. Invite them to challenge any existing processes, particularly those that require data re-entry or report duplication.
Rethink the organization and staffing levels. Upgrading technology will often require a more skilled staff and provide for more interesting and fulfilling jobs.

Modifying the operation simultaneously with the technology is difficult; but it is the easiest time to accomplish it. It's never too early to think about a technological transformation. With the right approach, you can ensure that you will get where you want to be. The steps are straightforward and logical: Develop your game plan, consider and narrow your alternatives and find the solution. Keep in mind that a successful project involves far more than selecting technology. It involves engaging your team and uncovering and leveraging the opportunities offered by the new environment.    

Ritch Gaiti ([email protected]) is a partner at Windward Advisory Group, a family office technology consultant in Princeton, N.J.

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