Data automation and consolidation is proving to be more than a trend in the financial sector. The status quo of paper trails is no longer tenable for any firm that wishes to remain competitive in the industry.

Forward-thinking leaders are embracing innovative technologies. What they are finding is financial reporting solutions help to reduce costs and increase scalability while also elevating their service levels.

This win-win decision is not possible, however, without selecting a selecting a technology partner that agrees with your firm’s strategic goals. Choosing a solution has major strategic economic consequences and should not be taken lightly.

Instead of experiencing long-term growth, the wrong selection could jeopardize your firm, employee morale and client relationships. The following three key points should be considered when making a decision.

Point #1: Set the goals and objectives you want to achieve with the software.

Before anything else, it is wise to fully capture the goals and objectives of your firm. This quickly becomes a complex task because multiple stakeholders are involved in this phase of the process. Every department wants assurance that a new technology will actually help processes with minimum disruption.

The good thing is investing a high level of energy towards this critical first step pays off long-term. Searching for a suitable technology partner is expedited since you only focus on vendors that are aligned with the strategic goals and objectives of your firm.

Point #2: Determine strategic selection criteria before beginning the search.

Next, you want to set parameters for the strategic selection criteria. You have defined what your firm needs, now it is necessary to determine what that should look like in a technology partner. This part of the process is important because it helps to ensure vendors submit more accurate proposal.

Establishing selection criteria also helps with internal alignment and an equal comparison of solutions. Begin thinking strategically about regulatory dynamics, expectations for customers and plans for the firm. Perhaps take one step beyond financial reporting to consider anticipated automation and consolidation needs for other operational areas.

Point #3: Analyze the firm’s current state with the desired state.

Use a gap analysis to assess your firm based on where you are currently and where you want to be in the next 5-10 years. Remember, you most likely gathered this information in point #1 while outlining strategic goals and objectives.

This important tool is beneficial for mapping current processes and costs to the desired state after the reporting solution is implemented.

As you begin the search for a technology system that works, remember the decision made today will have long-term consequences. The present challenge is finding a technology partner that understands and can help you anticipate what the future holds for your firm.

Make sure your final decision is with a vendor that is not simply selling you a product, but rather, will prepare you for what might come next.