Tuesday February 7th 2006
CM Software Vendors
Vendor Match Service
Real Cost of Software
By Barry Chaffe and Tony Valaitis
This comprehensive checklist will help you evaluate your short list of software packages. It covers ten categories you should use to evaluate a Contact Management software program: Contact Management areas, Features, Compatibility, Demos, Costs, Licensing/Updates, Training, Support, Vendor and System requirements.
Contact Management Software Checklist
Contact Management Areas
Sharing and Teamwork
Integration (with back office & planning software, PDAs, website, etc.)
Does the software serve as a central electronic filing system for all of my client and prospect information (including e-mails, letters, phone conversations, meetings, financial plans, statements, photos, etc.), allowing members of my team to share and access information quickly and easily?
Does the software provide my team with the ability to document, monitor and satisfy the ongoing financial needs of my clients?
Does the software give me the ability to celebrate important dates with my clients? (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)
Does the software make it easy for my team to execute marketing campaigns via written correspondence, e-mail and telephone?
Does the software ensure that essential tasks can never slip through the cracks?
Does the software automatically monitor my clients’ needs and alert the appropriate member of my team when a client is due for service? (eliminating the need to perform periodic queries and reports)
Does the software allow my team to automate repetitive office procedures?
Does the software give my team the ability to select multiple clients or prospects that share common characteristics?
Is there a way to automatically back up my client files?
Does the software give my team the ability to mine my client and prospect data to answer questions and perform analysis as the need arises?
Does the software make it easy to generate written and/or electronic correspondence for single or multiple recipients?
Does the software provide management reports that allow me to monitor where new business is coming from, measure my team’s activity levels, project future revenue, etc.?
Does the software include the record keeping, audit trail and reporting capabilities needed to satisfy compliance requirements?
Does the software integrate with my web site so that when a prospect visits my site the software adds them to my prospect database and begins my predefined process for qualifying and closing the prospect?
Does the software integrate with my back office system and my financial planning software?
Does the software integrate with my PDA?
Can the software be accessed remotely from home, cottage or hotel?
Can the software be tailored to meet my specific needs?
Does the software allow me to transform my practice into a turn-key operation?
Compatibility with You and Your Practice
Who are my clients and what are my contact management needs?
Will the software meet the above contact management needs?
Is the software’s output (on-screen and printed reports) compatible with my planning or presentation style?
What is the software’s learning curve – easy, medium, hard?
Will the software work with the way my practice, computers and network are currently set up?
Is there a demo or trial period?
Can the demo/ trial period be extended if I need more time?
Are any features, such as printing, disabled in the demo?
Is any support provided during the demo/trial period?
Is any training provided for the demo?
Are there any costs for demo support or training?
What is the initial cost of the software?
Are there additional set-up or installation costs?
Are there any maintenance fees in the first year or are these included in the initial cost?
Can I install the software on more than one computer for the same cost?
What are the annual update/maintenance costs after the first year?
What are the support costs or are they included in the annual cost?
What are the training costs or are they included in the annual cost?
How long will it take to learn the program? Estimate the number of hours and multiply by your hourly rate to arrive at this cost.
Licensing & Updates
How long is the license period?
If I don’t update, does the software expire at the end of the license period?
How often is the software updated?
Are there multiple user or site license discounts?
What type of support is provided?
- Live Help Desk
- Website Knowledgebase
- Website FAQ
How long will it take to have a support question answered?
Will the vendor’s time zone affect my access to their help desk?
Are patches and updates available online for downloading?
What is the software’s learning curve – easy, medium, hard?
Does the software come with a tutorial or wizards?
What type of training is available?
- Internet (Webex)
- CD-ROM based
- Vendor training road show
- Vendor on-site
- Printed and/or electronic manuals
- Private training
- Custom training
Does the vendor’s website have a software “Tips” section?
Does the vendors’ website have a users forum to post questions and solutions?
How long has the company been in business?
How many employees are in the company?
How many software users does the company have?
What other firms (broker/dealers, planners) use the software?
Does the vendor provide client testimonials and references?
What are the minimum system requirements?
- Operating system (Windows version)
- Internet browser and connection type (ie/ high speed)
- Processor speed
- Memory (RAM)
- Hard drive space
Will the software work over a network?
Is the software standalone (installs directly on your computer) or web based?
Do I need to install/purchase any other software or plug-ins to use the software?
Are there any know conflicts between the software and other software packages, plug-ins or printers?
Barry Chaffe is President of Chaffe/Malcolm + Partners Inc., a software development firm located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Chaffe/Malcolm’s products include Investment Gold, the ultimate client care system for wealth management professionals. Investment Gold is used by more than 8,000 top performers across North America.
Tony Valaitis is Managing Partner of AdvisorTek.com, a software and technology web portal for financial advisors who want to grow and improve their practices using technology. Tony has 15 years of experience in creating and developing software applications for the financial services industry. Tony can be reached at [email protected].
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