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What is the ‘Box’?


I recently attended a conference and found one of the topics mentioned to be of most interest to me. It definitely got me thinking… Would you know what to do should your colleague suddenly left and the work is now on your lap? If employee terminations happen overnight. Do you know what is considered ‘in the box’ verses ‘out of the box’? These are great questions. Some food for thought: Let’s face it, vacations, sick leave, emergencies, turnover etc., can and will happen. What would you do? Would you know what information the broker will need? What about the Transfer Agent? Will you know what reports are needed for financial reporting? What if you have a new employee- will you know what information you will need and how to enter it within the system or what to provide to your software provider? What about taxes? Have I made my case?

I know, sounds like a lot of work, however the amount of time, energy, and costs to fix what could potentially go wrong far out weighs the amount of time to document your procedures. There are many great tools to help with this process and the costs may be minimal. Depending on the complexity of the process you might be able to use what you currently have available already. Most products offer online training with little to no cost and you can add this as one more thing you are an expert at! Now that the necessary processes have been documented what if you discover you may need something more. How will you know if this is considered part of the service (in the box) or something additional/custom (out of the box)? This is a very common request with a common theme usually starting with the “I want” statement and the vendor researching, back and forth emails/phone calls, and possibly unnecessary fees and time being spent. A more productive approach is to work together with your vendor and explain the problem you are trying to resolve. For instance, nameless reports to include specific information for one of your admin teams in another location.

There may already be existing reports that have this information. Sometimes we just do not know what we do not know. If a fix is not already developed or determined ‘in the box’ you can then begin to work to define the requirements more accurately and in this process you may find a more productive way of doing things and strengthening your relationship with the vendor. Please do not forget to include this new report within your documentation to ensure the process is up to date! You do not want to go through this work to only go through it again the next time you find yourself looking for something ‘outside the box’. Final word; Do not be afraid of documentation and customization. The more you work with the process the better the results will be.

Denise Scoville-Glackin


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