The digital age is upon us and with it comes a new generation of technologically savvy scions and ‘plugged-in’ activist stakeholders. Family offices that are professionalizing their operations to keeping up with the growing demands of these stakeholders and their businesses are increasingly seeking new solutions when it comes to family office software. If you’re in a similar situation, choosing the right software to manage your family office may seem like an insurmountable task. It is also one which may become increasingly daunting as the operational requirements accumulate, not to mention considerations on data security, transparency, user accessibility and permissions. Then there’s the question of whether or not you’ll end up with a system that promotes productivity and collaboration across the board instead of hindering it. All of this can be quite intimidating, especially when you know that choosing the right software from the get-go is not only paramount to ensuring continued productivity but also to avoid nasty surprises and unforeseen switching costs in the future. To help you navigate this minefield, here are some things to consider before selecting your family office software:
Step 1: Isolate the processes you want to optimize using family office software
Tasks and functions that have traditionally involved manual inputs and administrative tasks like document management, schedule planning, task assignment and monitoring are often easily optimized with the right software. Organizational optimization, along with automated reminders and follow-ups, negate the need to dedicate unnecessary hours to managing copious amounts of administration and e-mails. Time that was allocated to mundane organizational and administrative tasks and reporting can then be better used to concentrate on strategic planning and more productive tasks that are in-line with key performance goals.
Step 2: Identify areas of hindrance within current workflows
Some organizational procedures and workflows such as document signing, compliance and storage require multi-party collaboration, handling, or sign-off. This is becoming an increasingly complex procedure as family members and colleges begin to travel more and more – some even choosing to live in a foreign country and work remotely. Modern software can help to facilitate this efficiently and securely as it enables you to request that individuals or groups collaborate on projects, fill in or sign-off on various documents virtually, all while maintaining the highest level of data security. When choosing family office software, it’s essential to define how your business works, who needs to be involved in what and to what degree.
Step 3: Map out involvement levels and communication channels
With a central database, permissions and roles can be assigned to each member of the business owners, staff, advisers and stakeholders all of whom can then interact, communicate and share confidential information and documents with complete peace of mind that governance structures are maintained. Clear communication and regular updates on what’s going on within the family are vital because, without them, communication breakdown and disengagement may occur.
Today internal communication strategy has a significant role to play in the engagement of the next generation. The software can not only help to present information through an engaging medium that is in-line with next-generation communication needs but also helps to disseminate communication in an effective and timely manner.
Step 4: Determine the value of your data and secure it accordingly
To start, detail what data are you generating and evaluate how valuable it is to your office and perhaps more importantly, how useful would it be to an outside party. Next, determine how your data is currently hosted and note the level of security and back-up it is given. Most family offices have traditionally hosted their data in-house. The issue with this, however, is that you open your office up to adverse situations where data may be destroyed or its security compromised due to unforeseen events such as fires, floods and data breaches by either disgruntled staff members or hackers. For this reason, hosted, cloud-based solutions are becoming the preferred method of data storage. This improves cybersecurity while also lowering costs. When making software comparisons, ensure that you establish where your data is hosted and what levels of security are implemented. Look out for software that offers private hosting at compliant data-centers, along with full end-to-end data encryption. When it comes to choosing family office software, once you’ve considered the points above and have clearly defined ideas about what the software needs to do and for whom, identifying and selecting the right products becomes far less complicated. In fact, the possibilities out there may just end up exciting you.