10 Ways to Get Users to Buy-In To Your Fund Management Software

The success any firm has with new fund management software is directly proportional to the buy-in that the organization gets from users. At Altvia, we have consistently high success rates helping organizations implement our customer relationship management (CRM) system, get their team members on board.

While buy-in isn’t the only factor in a successful fund management software implementation, we’ve found it to be critical enough that we’ve studied the process and come up with a proven set of tactics for improving adoption.

 If you’re looking to implement a fund management software solution and want to get maximum buy-in—or already have one in place but need to get more people to use it—we recommend taking the actions below.

A Checklist for Getting User Buy-In for Fund Management Software

  1. Secure executive sponsorship.

This is first on the list because when it comes to fund management software implementations and ensuring that people use the system, this is the most important step to take. If a software implementation doesn’t have full support from the top, it’s likely to fail. On the other hand, if executives lead by example, eagerly learning about and using the new solution, others in the firm will almost certainly follow suit. If they don’t, a little direct prompting from firm leaders can help get anyone who is reluctant to move in the right direction

  1. Simplify tasks.

There are many ways that good software can streamline tasks like report creation. If the system is set up to have a button that creates your Monday morning report with a single click, you can bet that the analyst whose job it is to generate that report is going to use the system rather than do it manually. And that’s just one example of tasks that can be simplified with the right solution.

  1. Provide proper training (and make it fun).

In-depth training—specifically on-site, face-to-face training when possible—not only results in trainees being more attentive and engaged, it also encourages them to go beyond simply understanding the technical “nuts and bolts” of the software and ask important real-world questions like, “How can I use the system for the type of work I do?” and “What new and better business processes can we accomplish with this solution?” Also, any training provided should be fun and interactive. You don’t want people coming into a session viewing it as something they just have to “get through” so they can go back to their desk. You want them to hear from coworkers that the session was informative and enjoyable.

  1. Show users where to get help.

Nothing drives software buy-in numbers down faster than frustration. Users should be able to get answers quickly so they aren’t left feeling helpless with no way to complete the task they’re working on.

  1. Address the “why.”

Sometimes people don’t understand the reason behind new software and what it’s supposed to fix. They just see the system as a “shiny new toy” that doesn’t interest them because they’re busy with meeting project deadlines. But if everyone understands the problems that the new fund management software will solve, team members are much more likely to learn about the system and see it as critical to the firm’s success.

  1. Customize the system.

Even small customizations to your new fund management software like tweaking it to use your firm’s vernacular to describe deal stages or fundraising stages can make the system feel more suited to users’ needs and make them more likely to use it. The greater their “comfort level” is, the higher your buy-in will be.

  1. Involve everyone in the design/setup process.

Even if just a few team members are actually doing the design and setup of the system, solicit input from all users before that process begins. Waiting until the solution is ready for launch and then getting valuable feedback means either delaying the rollout or discarding the input, and the latter isn’t helpful in general and definitely won’t help with buy-in.

  1. Have a fund management software implementation “champion.”

This isn’t the executive sponsor, but someone else in the firm. Sometimes admins make the best champions. This role can include making sure meeting notes and other interactions are recorded, and also monitoring who has logged in and providing encouragement for everyone to do so. This person can also share updates on who has used the solution and the benefits they’re enjoying.

  1. Make it easy to get data into the system.

If users can’t perform the tasks they need to because the data required isn’t available, that will hurt your adoption rate. Leverage tools like e2sf, Dragon Dictation, or email integration to make getting data into the system as easy as possible. Also, be sure that populating the system with important information is a top priority. Then, subsequent data imports can be done as needed.

  1. Prepare different groups for the real-life use cases they’ll encounter.

In addition to more general training, it’s helpful to meet with smaller groups to discuss how they can use the fund management software to address specific use cases. For example, analysts might use the system primarily for running reports and performing analyses, while managing directors might want more high-level information to see the overall direction of the organization.

Ensure Buy-In for Long-Term Success

When implementing new fund management software, there are both immediate and long-term benefits. Even if people don’t immediately start using the system for some reason, it’s crucial that you do ultimately get them onboard. 

Once everyone is using your new solution, you’ll find that the time and effort involved in ensuring full buy-in pays for itself many times over in the months and years to come.

A traditional crm was built for general ‘customer’ scenarios

Software platforms have made the world a better place by making work a better place. Indeed the world is better off when people enjoy their jobs even marginally more, and workplace applications on big CRM platforms like Salesforce.com have done that and much more.

But the potential that platforms like these offer presents diminishing returns: once the platform provider has engineered too many industry specific components into its platform, its usefulness for other industries begins to be threatened, and with that so do the usefulness of the component tools built into the platform.

So it is with the CRM category that Salesforce.com has defined: it is generic enough to work for many industries, and yet still offers the potential for others to round off the edges and nail more vertically-oriented and extremely tailored software solutions.

Private capital markets are actually a great demonstration of this dynamic. Where generic CRM platforms simplify — appropriately so — to assume there’s a business, a customer, a sale, and service of that customer, there are a few industry-specific pieces that are missing.

Take for example, that investors become customers by investing through legal entities the GP raises. It’s a subtle but important nuance that just doesn’t make sense at a platform-as-a-service level (because it’s overly complicated for a simple one-time sale that many industries require), but which can easily be added without 10 years or software engineering. Once provided, the rest of the platform’s components become tremendously powerful again and you’re set to take over the world.

As a traditional CRM in our pillars methodology, these nuances must be present to properly account for investors in these legal entities, potential target companies and which are owned by these entities, the context of all interactions with these parties (as well as the appropriate overlap, ie co-investments), and how you’re arriving at finding these opportunities on both sides of the equation, such that you’re able to piece together what’s effective and what’s not. Not just because we say so, but because these are the very relationships and data that are key to the motivation behind a CRM in any industry.

It’s critical, too, that the valuable publicly-available information that helps to enrich CRM systems and save users painful steps of entering it themselves is fully-integrated at the platform level.

Again, look no further than the 3,000+ pre-built integrations that Salesforce.com — the creator of the CRM platform concept — has at a platform level to do so, and which only exists by way of holding just short of overly-specifying certain industry workflows that would present challenges to properly integrate.

Stakeholder reporting and communication (investor relations) draws on a range of datasets

The traditional “customer service” model of CRM systems once again makes overly-simplified assumptions about the customer relationship when applied to private capital markets.

In fifteen years I personally have yet to hear the terms “warranty” or “service call” in this market because it’s just not the same. But make no mistake, as uncomfortable as it may be to say aloud, customer service is more important now than ever and it’s constantly happening; the industry is, after all, considered to be a financial “service”.

As it turns out, that service is primarily information-based — it’s driven by data and takes the form of reports and analysis that drive decisions, and then end up again in investor-facing reports and analysis.

The foundational elements of a private capital markets CRM must be built such that they accommodate this data (like we discussed above), but so too that it can accommodate additional supporting data that investors (customers!) need in the context of service.

Oftentimes this supporting data — financial metrics and time-based values, for example — is believed not to meet the traditional definition of CRM and the natural thought is “well, better do this in Excel!”.

While I happen to believe Excel is still the greatest software application ever built, its introduction to this value chain we’ve discussed herein actually creates the problem many firms suffer from: key data needed to provide customer service (again: effectively the entirety of a firm’s reports and analysis) is now in disparate systems and detached.

Both of those dynamics are important and distinct: not only is this supplemental data disparate, but when brought together there is no logical association that can be made between the two data sets.

Allow me, then, to make the point very simply: not only can this financial and time-based value data (you may be thinking about is as “portfolio monitoring” or “accounting”) be a part of a CRM, it is arguably the most important part of a CRM because it’s at the core of what providing service to the customer entails — information that comes out of data!

Firms need a digital method to engage stakeholders (ie investor portals)

Investor portals are not new; in fact, for many of us — including myself — they conjure up horrifying nightmares in which we’re aimlessly guessing at folders to find the newest document we need.

So in lies the opportunity: not only have the portals we’ve come to hate not simplified the process of acquiring information, they’ve failed to create an entirely new experience that is “customer service” driven.

To be fair, this is not a B2C market where you’d be long out of business for not having focused on customer service and thus the customer’s technology-driven experience. But don’t expect to be around too much longer if you aren’t thinking about this shift.

Today’s institutional investors increasingly expect this same consumer-like experience, and a massive opportunity is being missed by not providing it. It’s not about providing them the experience they desire; it’s more about the ability to measure engagement that is had in return.

Put simply: what’s keeping the market from providing this experience is the availability of the information that’s required to create the service that provides the experience.

If you’ve hung in this long, you know that by focusing on your CRM, you have the data that’s required to manage the customer relationship and the technology-driven experience through which that information is shared to create a differentiated and opportunistic customer experience.

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