Implementing a new technology for brokers is always a challenge: on the one hand brokers rely on technology but on the other, it can be a headache that consumes resources and triggers internal conflicts and politics. Both the broker and the tech provider have an interest in smooth implementation but in reality there are many traps and ‘time-consumers’ that could divert the train off its track. Examples:
- Unclear business value
- Lack of commitment from critical personnel
- Insufficient time or labor resources to complete the integration
- Unexpected bottlenecks
- Staff turnover
- Misunderstandings regarding the required tasks
For this reason, brokers are sometimes cautious about adding new technologies. So is there an easy way to implement a new technology with minimum hassle?
The answer is yes!
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For every type of technology there may be a different way and in this article I am sharing with you some common best practices that I have collected along the way. They will not solve all your problems, but perhaps they will help you along your way.
Step 1: Thorough Preparations
- Legal: Making a deployment plan is important to create a common language between the provider and the broker. Starting from the legal agreement, it should clearly define the obligations of each side in the setup process (recommended to be in separate Appendices).
- Setting expectations: If possible, the provider should prepare a short and easy-to-read plan document with all the relevant definitions and requirements including: scope of work, timetables, key personnel and relevant tasks or responsibilities, KPIs, risk analysis (what could go wrong), description of processes.
Step 2: Deployment
- Official kickoff: Recommended as a meeting with all the involved personnel. This is the official presentation of the plan. Gives opportunity to all participants to comment on the plan, align expectations, and make adjustments to the plan according to new inputs. The sides should appoint a point of contact from each side that will be responsible for ongoing connections. The kickoff should also be a good opportunity to make sure all the involved personnel are in ‘collaboration mode’.
- Set up: After the official kickoff, the provider and the broker turn to complete their respective tasks. It is highly recommended to hold occasional status meetings to discuss progress, troubleshoot bottlenecks and refine target dates.
Step 3: Roll Out
- Evaluation: In most cases, brokers should be entitled to make an evaluation of a new technology as well as an evaluation of the quality of the service and support that is associated with it. It could be a pilot, small scale testing or even full deployment. This is a crucial milestone in developing trust and sustainable long term relationships. Brokers need to make sure the new technology is in use, that it meets the expected business KPI’s and be able to evaluate the short term ROI. These parameters should be defined as an ‘Acceptance Test’ so that once the broker has confirmed ‘Acceptance’ – it will be possible to easily continue to the next step.
- Full Roll Out: In this phase, the technology could be fully implemented (sometimes gradually). But now the real work has just begun:
The sides need to monitor the implementation process together, hold joint status meetings, and continue to troubleshoot unexpected hurdles.
Brokers may require customizations and adaptations and at this stage, when joint work processes and trust are in place, it could be the right timing.
Issues that should be considered:
- How is the new technology interacting with other technologies?
- How is the new technology aligned with the broker’s business strategy?
- Are the employees informed and educated about the new technology?
- To what extent does the broker depend on the tech provider on daily issues and how much knowledge is required to operate the technology independently?
Three quick tips:
- Appoint an in-house ‘super user’ that holds majority of know-how and expertise on the new technology
- Make periodical reviews on the business value of the new technology
- Be willing to spend resources on training and implementation – the ROI is always positive.
I hope this was helpful. Happy New Year!