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Taking control of workflow

How can you use your back-office software to stop being a task slave and instead become a task master? Sara Row, senior solutions consultant, IRESS has some suggestions

I get so much job satisfaction helping clients with their processes. Every single one is different. Every advisory firm has its own style, its own flair and its own niche which distinguishes its service over another firm.

Of course, there are similarities, as you’d expect within the same industry operating under the same regulation. But the way in which advisers service their clients and fulfil internal obligations is always that bit different to the firm down the road. Whether it’s a back-office solution, paper-based or a third-party application. More often than not, it’s a mixture of all of them to allow the firm to get what they truly need.

But there is usually a more efficient way of doing things. If we look at the things we do, day-in-day-out I’m sure we could all identify quicker, better ways of doing things. Some of these improvements can be quite small and incremental. Other changes can lead to transformational efficiency gains.Having an effective workflow, for instance, can make considerable improvements to the way you do things. It can reduce unnecessary steps, give you a clearer picture of where you are in a process and help guide everyone in the advisory firm on what they should be doing when.

Intuitive workflow

Process management is so much more than just task management. Many systems can provide you with a task reminder to do the job you need to do but a truly powerful workflow system would also complete some of that task for you and only flag up other tasks that are relevant.

Let’s imagine you have a linear process such as: Task 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. What if Task 4 only happens if Task 3 has a specific outcome? Wouldn’t it be more useful if your software was intuitive enough to deviate from that path based on different outcomes that may happen through that process?

For instance what if you only need to see a task to obtain manual forms of ID&V if the previous task to complete an online verification fails? This is possible in XPLAN by adding outcomes to your tasks within your workflow thread and changing the activation criteria on the next task.

In fact, conditional workflow can be used for many different options and some of our clients have used it for processes such as pre-sale compliance checks, ID&V failures, post sale case checking, telesales and pipeline processes; the list goes on.

Role Driven

The most powerful workflows allow the right tasks to go to the right people or team at the right time. The tasks within XPLAN’s workflow allow you to specify whether it is set for a specific user within the business, (a pre-check to a specific compliance officer in the firm), a group (to a specific team within your business, for example case handover from an adviser into a paraplanner pool), a role against the client (whoever the assigned adviser or administrator is for that client) or even to a group role (the manager of a team who assigns the work).

As well as conditional workflow that is role driven, tasks within that workflow can work on your behalf. Do you want to update a client by email as you pass certain stages in the workflow? Just set a task to auto-send an email template to the client upon the setting of a specific outcome. Voila; done!

What about adding a review schedule and a service category/benchmark set at the end of the advice journey?  Add to those outcome conditions so it adds them to the client record automatically. Easy.

And how about automatically updating an associated lead or opportunity stage or status? The outcomes can do that too.

Workflow can even produce documentation or reports to share with clients either by post or straight to their portal. And after producing those documents it can then schedule the meetings automatically from the workflow. This saves precious time and costs, and that’s not to mention the satisfaction of being able to locate a specific document quickly – no digging about for files here.

Seeing it all clearly

If you remember, I explored how to make the most of your dashboard a couple of issues ago. And it’s this same functionality you can drill down into for a smooth and efficient workflow. There are many widgets that help you see a clear picture of what’s happening.

Beyond just task and priority setting, when presented all visually you get a much clearer understanding of how workflow is progressing, where the blockers are in the process, and what actions you need to take, at a glance, to gain even more efficiencies.

Visit the IRESS website

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