If you’ve been tasked with finding the right technology solution for your family office, you know that a lot is on the line. You know that selecting the right technology solution can improve your family office’s efficiency and catapult your credibility as a decision maker – and selecting the wrong technology solution can put you in the hot seat.
Beyond asking the right questions, it’s important to remember: it’s not enough to take the vendor’s word for what they can do for your family office – they need to prove what they can do for your family office.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is through a well-crafted proof of concept (POC).
POCs allow you to take a deeper dive into the software application, which enables you to determine whether or not the platform’s capabilities can really address your biggest pain points. Furthermore, if proven successful, POCs offer tangible evidence that can be used to help you get buy-in for the investment within your family office and from the family itself.
However, as a family office fintech provider that’s been on the receiving end of thousands of technology evaluations and inquiries over the past two decades, we oftentimes hear family offices ask: what is the best way to come up with a proof of concept?
While there are lots of different ways to conduct a POC, we’ve identified four steps to help you construct a basic outline for a successful proof of concept.
The first thing to consider when creating a proof of concept is outlining who you are as a firm and what you hope to accomplish with the POC. This may seem like a no-brainer to most – after all, we know who we are and what we need, don’t we? Truth be told, it’s one of the most overlooked components of a POC but provides your potential technology vendor with tremendous context around the complexity and logic of your processes and operations.
At this stage, it’s also important to provide detail around expectations and deliverables for the POC including goals, timeline and response format.
If you’re going through a family office software selection, we’re sure you already have a laundry list of challenges and inefficiencies you want to address with a new technology solution. But it’s important to narrow the scope in your POC so that the responding vendors can prioritize your biggest pain points and avoid getting bogged down with demonstrating the “nice-to-have” functionality.
At this point, you should be thinking in broad topics and we recommend limiting the scope of your POC to 5-8 pain points.
Examples of common pain points include accounts payable, partnership allocations and alternative asset tracking. As you and your team think through your operations, make sure to account for the volume, regularity and complexity of each pain point to make sure you’re including the most relevant and worthwhile set of scenarios in the POC, which we discuss in the next step.
Once you’ve identified your generalized pain points, you can begin mapping each pain point to specific operations and tasks. The goal during this step is to describe how you currently execute these functions and what your expectations are for the future so that you can determine which specific tasks should be included in the use cases.
For instance, if the accounts payable function has been identified as a troublesome spot for your family office, begin outlining the explicit tasks that are challenging. Start by asking yourself which tasks are most difficult or cumbersome to complete: Is it check writing? Is it wire transfers? Is it tracking and reporting on expenses? Is it securely storing AP data like invoices and electronic signatures?
By letting the vendors know where your trouble spots lie, they can more effectively assert value over your current process, which ultimately helps you build buy-in towards the technology solution.
Using the list of tasks associated with each pain point, you can devise concrete examples and requirements for delivering on each component in the POC.
In many cases, your technology vendor may already have scenarios and sample data sets configured to prove out their capability. In other cases, the pain point may be so specific or the requirement so detailed that it makes sense to provide mocked up data for the technology vendor. If you plan to provide sample data, keep in mind whatever data you provide is what the technology vendor will replicate in their system, so make sure that it is accurate and complete before launching your POC.
Whether your family office is managing the due diligence process on its own or partnering with an experienced industry consultant, a POC gives your firm an opportunity to put technology vendors to the test as they vie to win your business. As a result, you are able to attest to the solution’s capabilities and verify that the vendor can, in fact, help alleviate your biggest pain points.
Download our mini ebook Family Office Tech Evaluation: Building a Successful Proof of Concept, which lays out four steps to help create a proof of concept and the questions you should be asking to help get you there.
Dennis is responsible for developing strategies to help SEI Family Office Services reach new markets, attract new leads and acquire new clients. In this role, he leads speaking engagements at industry events and manages the sales cycle. With a core focus on family offices, accounting firms and other wealth management organizations selecting a technology solution, Dennis has worked with many of the Forbes 185 families and Forbes 400 individuals for over 17 years. Prior to joining SEI, Dennis served as Managing Director of Sales and Marketing at Financial Navigator, Inc. where he was responsible for the company's growth and market penetration.
Dennis holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from San Jose State University. Outside of SEI, Dennis enjoys traveling with his family, reading and scouring used record stores to grow his vinyl record collection.
Vice President, Business Development
SEI Family Office Services