Like building a house or playing an organized sport, technology solutions for advisors work best when all the pieces fit together to create a whole that is greater than the sum of their parts.

Tech tools are essential for advisory offices to implement well because they can aid the operations staff in working more efficiently together and also better enhance client interaction.

When deciding among new solutions, start with understanding which software pieces are essential for the firm’s business needs. There are so many variations and types of technology, it is critical to know which ones the firm needs and which ones it doesn’t.

There are tools for customer relationship management, portfolio accounting, financial planning, risk analytics, account aggregation, trading and more. It is daunting.

Regardless of how many tech solutions the firm ultimately adds, there are a few crucial factors to think about when selecting any of the choices available.

Financial advisors should consider making the following checklist part of their selection criteria:

• Talk with other advisors to see what they use and why they would or wouldn’t recommend the software that powers their firms.

• Take a test drive before buying. Any provider should give a firm resources to make sure the technology is a good fit. Think of it as a fiduciary standard but for tech companies, with advisory firms as the clients.

• Do security due diligence. Verify that the vendor has necessary security guidelines in place, like an ISO 27001 certification or SSAE 16 auditing, to keep the firm’s data safe.

• Explore the level of integration. Advisors who plan to pick and choose from the best software options, should make sure that those solutions integrate with each other. Synced data across all the firm’s applications will make life easier.

• Web-based software isn’t just the future, it is the present. Make sure all the firm’s apps are accessed through the cloud so they can be used whenever, wherever and never be tied down to a single physical computer.

• Ask if the software provides any client-facing tools, such as a portfolio accounting system can with a client portal that can be used to help educate clients.

• Most importantly, involve staff members. Adoption and implementation are critical to making sure that the firm’s tech choices actually work. Employee buy-in is essential to be successful.

With this checklist in hand, advisors can be confident that they are making the best choices when selecting new advisory technology.

Eric Clarke is the founder and chief executive of Orion Advisor Services LLC in Omaha, Neb.

This story is part of a 30-day series on how to prosper as an advisor.