Your agency management system is a lot of what makes your agency work – it holds all your client information, tracks your accounting, stores documents and provides prospect research all in one place. It’s an investment of your agency’s time and money, and you want to get the most out of it. You want a system that works for you, with all the capabilities you need but without the bells and whistles you don’t. You want an agency management system that helps you work better, easily integrates with your current work processes and will grow with your agency. With all the options out there, how do you choose? And once you do, how do you make sure it’s worth your time?
Choose the Right Partner
Before you invest in a specific management system, look at the provider. No matter how great a product may be, if its provider isn’t a fit you’re in for trouble. You’re not just getting an agency management system, you’re getting the people who created it, provide service for it, and decide how to change it. You want to be sure your agency fits with the management system and the people behind it.
When looking at a potential provider, search for one who:
- Has staying power: Look for a vendor who has been around for a while, and intends to stay. Be careful of start-ups as a larger, less personal vendor could acquire them in the future.
- Goes with the flow: Find a provider that is aware of technological changes and the evolving needs of your agency. Look for a company that will make changes to what you have instead of making you switch over to a new system year after year.
- Lends an ear: Choose a provider that listens to your concerns and responds to what you need. Look for a place with great customer service, preferably one where you get your own personal representative.
- Stays in touch: Look for a provider that is available when you need them. Find a provider that makes it easy for you to reach them, providing you ways to contact them by phone and e-mail, and who gets back to you ASAP.
- Puts you first: Be wary of companies that are tied to investors or just looking at the bottom line. Independent providers are less restricted by these pressures and can focus on you, their clients, first.
Get Involved in User Groups
While looking for a vendor, you should also make sure they provide you with access to a user group. Once you’ve started using a provider’s management system, you should start connecting with other users. User group are a great place to learn about new tools and find out what you can do with what you have. Even the best providers can only give you so much information about their product as they don’t use it in the “real world” like you. Good providers learn what their management systems can do, and what it should do, via these users groups.
User groups are a great place to provide feedback to your provider and to talk best practices with other agencies. Some user groups are more involved and may host events or conferences, such as Partner XE’s user group National Association of Partner Agents (NASPA). NASPA includes every agency using the Partner XE system and is run by an elected volunteer board of Partner XE users. It educates the Partner XE user base on how to get the most out of their agency management system, and provides feedback and input to us at SIS.
If you’re already a Partner XE user, we encourage you to sign up for the upcoming NASPA conference April 24-25th in Columbus. If you’re not using Partner XE, contact us today to find out how SIS and Partner XE can work for you!