Unlocking Xplan’s potential: see how targeted training drives user adoption

In this article Evotra’s CEO Sally Merritt discusses the vital role that preparation and training play in driving up Xplan user-adoption rates, which in turn are critical to unlocking Xplan’s potential.

As a system, Xplan is eminently capable of handling the complexity that comes with operating a financial advice business. But a major stumbling block that prevents firms from realising its potential is user adoption.

People are commonly resistant to change so you’re always going to see some employees pushing back against new systems, particularly when they’re busy and under pressure. But overwhelmingly, it’s insufficient preparedness and targeted training that are the main culprits. And thankfully, this means there is a lot that can be done to reverse the situation or better still, minimise the scope for it to happen in the first place.  

What does good preparation and training for Xplan look like? To help get under the skin of this, I’ve got together with Leanne Holyer, who specialises in business readiness and training for Evotra. The two of us have worked on both sides of the fence so as well as racking up considerable experience in implementing and embedding new systems for our clients, we have first hand knowledge of what it’s like to try to get to grips with a new system while on the front line of a busy financial advice firm.  

Here’s our blueprint for maximising user adoption, covering both pre and post migration.

Start training well ahead of a migration

Six weeks to a month before works well. But try not to run training while you’re still testing the system. As Leanne explains: “Things invariably change and the training won’t equip your employees to use the end system. If it looks different on go-live day, they’ll struggle and this can make them reluctant to use the new system.”

Focus on getting training right, not doing it quickly

One quick demo of Xplan isn’t enough. Businesses often try to pack everything for everyone into a single session but there isn’t enough time, people get overloaded and they switch off because the bulk of it isn’t relevant to their specific role.

“You don’t need to train people on every process immediately. Focus initially on what they’ll need for day one. And make sure everyone has had time with the system – and not just the day before!” says Leanne.

One size doesn’t fit all

Whether it’s pre or post migration, training needs to be targeted. The financial planning admin team will use Xplan in a very different way to an investment manager, and those at your firm responsible for configuring and maintaining Xplan will have different needs again. Relevant, targeted training pays dividends. A range of formats can make a big difference too – from bite-size videos to face-to-face training.

According to Leanne: “Hands-on, real-life scenarios are invaluable. Rather than just learning to add a document or complete a fact find, the best training will wrap this up into one of your firm’s actual journeys.”

If you’ve got a bespoke version of Xplan, watch out also for standard training modules that use the out-of-the-box version. It won’t look and behave like your version so will confuse people.

Involve your employees on the journey

This is a simple way to create a sense of ownership, which in turn increases buy-in. Explain what is happening and why, ask for feedback, consider concerns and get users from across the business involved. If the system is unveiled as a fait accompli, employees often feel that it’s been forced on them and will back off.

Don’t forget your inflight business

Most training focuses on using the system in the new world but in reality you’re not just going to be uploading new clients. There will also be a lot of inflight business too so your teams will need to know how to handle this. “I’ve seen this so many times,” Leanne says. “Someone is halfway through a process on the old system and now, on the new system, it doesn’t match and they don’t know what to do. When things go wrong with inflight business, it causes a lot of negativity towards the new system.”

Clean up your data as you go

Xplan and other systems often get the blame for issues when invariably it’s the underlying data that’s the issue. “Xplan as a system is quite simple to use. No one struggles to find an address on the system. The issue they have is that the address is wrong and the only way to fix this is to correct the data,” says Leanne.  Your new system can expose old problems and people often start associating the problem with the system so do what you can to solve data issues as you go. And ensure your third-party data feeds are set up correctly as quickly as possible.

Communicate well

We see firms falling down through poor communication rather than lack of planning. Many of your employees will have been burnt by previous technology experiences and won’t be running towards this so make sure they know exactly what is happening, why, when and how.

“And be upfront,” says Leanne. “For example, if you haven’t managed to migrate all the data and people are going to have to do manual inputting at the outset, prepare them for this.”

Have a solid post go-live plan

However prepared you are, there are always some things that can’t get done for day one so a solid post go-live plan is key. Map out what you’re going to do and when. And make sure there is the resource to do this. If you’ve got a team trying to finish a migration off the side of their desks, it’s unlikely to go smoothly. Invariably people around the business then start associating the pain with the new system and you can get into a downward spiral.

Post go-live training is important too

We’ve recently been doing a lot of work with financial advice firms who have moved from Adviser Office to Xplan so Leanne and our other trainers are going in and spending an hour or so with those who are already using Xplan, finding out what their struggles are and showing them how to overcome them.

In the days and weeks following migration on-site support can be invaluable, particularly when your supplier support ends.

Senior management buy-in is key so be an advocate for your new system

Even if you’re not using the system yourself, champion it. There will always be vocal employees that don’t like change or the system and it’s important they don’t suck up too much time or encourage others to feel the same. Bringing your employees on the journey is critical to successful user adoption.

And one final point from Leanne

“Please don’t plan to migrate over tax year end! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this and it adds so much unnecessary pressure and complexity.”

How Evotra can help with Xplan business readiness, training and user-adoption

At Evotra we’re here to help financial advice firms get the best from their technology. A large part of this involves supporting clients as they prepare for system changes and providing pre and post migration training (as well as in a business-as-usual environment) to ensure a skilled and motivated workforce, which in turn drives up user adoption.

When it comes to Xplan, what we do complements the support and training that Iress provides. Their excellent training modules will guide your employees through technical aspects, demonstrating how to get the best from a standard Xplan set up. Our focus on the other hand is providing bespoke support that takes into account your specific business processes, needs and goals.

We will:

  • Get to know your business and processes, your version of Xplan and the outcomes you need from the system and migration as a whole
  • Incorporate your version of Xplan and your business processes into all support and training
  • Provide targeted training to suit the very different requirements of all your end users, from portfolio managers, financial planners and investment managers to financial planning support staff and your configuration team. We can also train the trainers and provide highly specialist support in vital areas such as configuring and managing data feeds 
  • Provide training in a variety of ways to get the very best results. This includes everything from on-site, individual training where we’ll sit with your employees and train them in your live environment through to providing you with your own set of bite-size and end-to-end training videos
  • Train both pre and post migration as well as providing refresher and support training

We’re confident that the return on investment from training will be transformational for your business. Not only will you have a proficient, skilled workforce capable of getting the best from your new system, you’re also likely to experience a significant boost in morale, which has a positive impact on everything from productivity to employee wellbeing.  

Next steps

Please give us a call on 020 3410 1966 or email us at hello@evotra.co.uk for a chat about your business and how we can help you.