Natalie Jesudason is an Iress account manager, who has worked with Adviser Office clients for 15 years. She’s part of the team helping financial advice businesses upgrade from Adviser Office to Xplan. Here, she talks about how it all works, what to expect along the way and shares her tips for a successful transition.

Firstly, Natalie, tell us about upgrading from Adviser Office to Xplan.

Sure. As readers will be aware, Adviser Office has been around for a very long time. It’s been very successful and has a lot of loyal, long-standing users, but we can’t hide the fact that it’s outdated, legacy technology, and you can’t run a successful advice business from a desktop anymore.

Financial advisers need to work from anywhere and don’t want the hassle of having to do admin-like manual updates - who’s got time for that? So it makes sense to upgrade Adviser Office users to our online financial advice software, Xplan, which is a much better way of working.

Why is Xplan better than Adviser Office?

The biggest difference is that it’s cloud-based, which means it’s fully hosted, more secure, and you can use it wherever you are on any device. What’s really good about it - and this should be music to everyone’s ears - is it’s automatically always up to date, so you know you’re working with the latest information. No more manual updates! While Adviser Office has been part of all our lives for so long, Xplan will do far more for our clients’ businesses than Adviser Office ever could.

What’s the best way for Adviser Office users to get to know Xplan and what it does?

The upgrading to Xplan page is a great place to start. It contains lots of accessible information about upgrading to Xplan, including its key benefits, a playlist of short videos on Xplan’s core features, and an on demand product demo. Everything on the site has been created with Adviser Office users in mind. There are also stories on the built for better hub page from clients who have already upgraded and ideas on how to grow your business.

What should a client do if they have questions about upgrading or want to talk about a specific issue?

That’s where the rest of the account management team and I come in. We’re here to talk to clients if they have questions or concerns. Most clients come to us if they have a specific requirement to discuss, and we explain how Xplan can meet those needs. More often than not, after talking to us, clients are excited to get going and begin their upgrade.

Speaking of which, how can clients upgrade?

They just need to get in touch with their Iress account manager. We can tell them more about upgrading to Xplan and any options available to them before getting their upgrade booked in with our implementation team.

Tell us more about what happens before implementation and what clients can expect.

We’ll work closely with the client to prep them for implementation. Our focus is to make sure everything is in place for a successful and smooth transition to Xplan. That will include assisting them with data cleansing, an essential step in any software migration, and datafeed registration. We’ll also ensure the implementation team has all the information they need. Typically this stage takes around 2-3 weeks but can take longer for larger firms.

Is there anything Adviser Office clients can do to prepare?

Yes, there are a few things we will ask clients to do to ensure everything can happen smoothly and as it should.

The two most important things are ensuring they’re on the latest version of Adviser Office (13.3) which is available to download from our Extranet - and cleansing their data. We’ll help clients with that and provide simple checklists to guide them through it.

Once the pre-implementation phase is complete, what happens next?

We move into data set-up, migration and training. This is where our implementation team transfer the client’s data to Xplan. It’s probably the most time-consuming and complex part, but we’ve done it many times before and like to think we have it down to an art. We’ve developed a data migration process that minimises disruption to the business and maintains the integrity of the data. Alongside, the core Xplan implementation, we have specialists in revenue and valuation feeds who will work with you on those key areas. Clients will still have temporary access to a read-only version of Adviser Office as backup, so there’s nothing to worry about. All in all, this stage usually takes 4 weeks but can vary depending on the state of the client’s data - that’s why it’s so important to go into this having done a thorough data cleanse.

Tell us more about the data migration

We know moving the data you've captured in Adviser Office is one of the most important elements to you. The benefit of us knowing both Adviser Office and Xplan means we have the skills and expertise to make this as data-rich and straightforward as we can for you. Our data migration incorporates two fantastic tools that help you cleanse, prepare and map your data. This takes away the need for manual spreadsheet mapping exercises, ensuring your data arrives in Xplan in the best possible way.

What can clients do while all of this is happening? Can they still use Adviser Office?

They’ll still be able to access Adviser Office to view data and run reports, but we wouldn’t recommend adding any data during the migration because it won’t get carried over into Xplan and would only need to be re-keyed in later. Some clients use this time to get ahead with training and learning about Xplan.

So how soon can they start using Xplan?

Once the data migration into Xplan is complete, we’ll give the client access to Xplan to begin their data checks. All being well, they can start using Xplan for everyday activities, and we’ll switch on the datafeeds. It takes around two weeks then the client is fully upgraded and running on Xplan.

Great! So what support do clients get once they’ve upgraded?

They are handed over to our hypercare support team, where they’ll get dedicated support for their first two months or until they’re happily up and running on their own. And they’ll be welcomed into the Iress Community which is an online forum where they can get assistance, product updates and connect with fellow Xplan users. Our account management team will also check in with aftercare support and advice. Our focus will be to ensure clients get the very best out of their upgrade to Xplan.

How will you help users get up to speed with Xplan?

By providing unlimited free online training via the Iress Learning Centre. Both on-demand and live sessions are available, and it’s all geared specifically for users that have moved to Xplan from Adviser Office, covering the key things they need to know. Users will also have access to the Iress Community for ongoing questions, quick reference and to keep up to speed with Xplan releases and product updates. We’ll give clients their logins early so they can get registered for the Iress Learning Centre and the Community and start exploring. We'll also run series of Xplan check-ins which are structured consultancy sessions with the opportunity for Q&A with our Xplan experts.

Do you have any tips to help clients going through the upgrade?

Managing change is an important part of any software migration, and you’ll find some tips on that in our hub article How to embrace technology change. Software migrations aren’t just about technology; there’s the human side to consider too. It can be a big cultural shift for a business. We never underestimate that, and it’s why we provide lots of support and advice to help clients successfully embed Xplan within their teams and business.

What would you say to anyone unsure about upgrading to Xplan?

In the words of our client Charlie Nicholls, I’d say ‘just do it!’. I know changing your software can be daunting, especially if you’ve been using Adviser Office for years, but upgrading to Xplan is a fantastic opportunity to take your business to the next level, and you couldn’t be in better hands.

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