Choose Agency Management Software Wisely

Once you invest in an agency management system, you spend a lot more than money – there can be hours of evaluation, process mapping and then there’s the implementation process, training and learning curve.

You are solidly on your way to committing valuable resources to making the best use of the system, entering all your important data and assets, and voila! you’re fully committed.

It’s hard to end a committed relationship. But like a personal relationship, if it was established on the first blush of awesomeness, it’s hard to let go.

You were so thrilled! This was going to solve all your problems! It would Fix. Everything.

In the effort to hang on to that dreamy plan, you usually put up with some pretty crummy stuff. The passion to do everything just right slowly deteriorates. Then you find yourself just walking through all those process steps. The critical path that doesn’t seem all that critical.

Then you avoid it altogether and end up doing all your work in Excel and email.  Sleeping on the couch.

Other solutions start looking more appealing. You’re thinking about steppin’ out.

I believe in process and I believe is solid agency management systems. But unlike what your sales gal or all those corporate logos and too-cool agency names on their website say, one size does not fit all.

You can choose a solution where you simply login, create a user, and you’re off. Or you can choose something complex that does everything. And by the way, complex doesn't mean complicated.

But either choice can and will trip you up.

Diving-in with marginal planning can lead you down the path where you to once again depend on that old, reliable mainstay of email and Excel. Complex systems work great if you have a team to customize, implement and shepherd through (and past) the infatuation stage of the relationship.

And by the way, the simple systems work better if you actually take the time to do the customization they offer – like build templates.

The complex systems work better if you pare-down the features you use. There are more bells and whistles available that any individual can fully appreciate, especially in the course of a busy day. Implement in phases.

Pace your implementation, train, and require [some level of] compliance. A group of individuals playing with the same set of rules is, er, um, a team. (cliché I know, but true).

So do your homework, ask your sales gal how her company will help you get the most out of their software. Oops, solution. Then use those resources. Get input from your colleagues, address what they hate (and there are lots of haters), take recommendations for improvements to your software rep, and continually improve. The goal is to make this second nature – not a long, involved process.

The net result is a system that makes process easy. They’re just steps you walk through to get a job done. The same as when you sent an email to the guy next to you to write a line of code. Same actions, but now it has structure, it’s reliable.

You may not stay in love with the software, but you’ll have a partner that you can count on, and you won’t spend hours searching through email, or Google docs, or SharePoint for all that crap that should be in one place.

I’ll go for a stable relationship any day.