A good executive sponsor can make or break new fund administration software implementation
Implementing any new type of technology requires planning, technical setup, training, and change management. None of these steps can be done effectively without proper buy-in from all levels of the organization. Unfortunately, many companies off-load implementation onto employees who don’t have the knowledge or expertise to properly understand the full scope of the project. This is where a good executive sponsor can make or break new fund administration software implementation.
What is Executive Sponsorship?
Executive sponsorship is a term commonly used in project management that refers to a senior-level executive who is responsible for the business for the success of the project.
In software sales, a small group of stakeholders are involved in making the decision whether or not to purchase a product that will impact a much larger portion of the company. In the case of a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, for example, that decision impacts almost everyone in the organization. Implementing a new CRM can be a daunting task that not only requires technical implementation and training but change management as well.
Having an executive sponsor on the implementation team significantly improves a project’s likelihood of success. It helps make sure the software is being set up in a way that will support business needs at a higher level of the organization and helps to ensure that other members of the team will buy-in to it.
Why is it Important?
At Altvia, we typically work with a variety of titles depending on the firm, the CEO, Managing Partner, Data Analyst, or Head of Investor Relations during the sales process. Most often we receive inquiries from associates and analysts who realize there is a less tedious way of data management than manual entry. With extensive research into which tool is the best fit for their firm, they thoroughly vet the company doing the implementation. If you are currently in this process, our free Buyers Guide to Private Equity Technology may be valuable.
But when they make a purchase decision, all too often the responsibility of implementing the product is carelessly tossed to lower-level employees.
A couple of things usually happen at this point. The employees at the firm must take the next step in assessing their data quality. In order to seamlessly transfer data into the new system, the firm will need to extract their old data from its original source. Often times, it is within this process firms start to notice the truth about their data. Some contacts may be duplicated several times, they may not have had all the right information in the right fields, or they need additional fields to create accurate and clean reports. It is important to keep in mind more time upfront cleaning up your data, the reduction in cost to hire and train additional help clean up hundreds or thousands of records.
The problem at this point is many employees at the firm start to feel a bit frustrated with the amount of workload they have to take on for their technology implementation to be successful. This results in it being more difficult for the team to see the potential for their new system, which means they are less likely to use the system right away and less likely to learn how to use it effectively.
An executive sponsor sees the importance of a new technology solution to help increase team productivity and maintaining a clean database moving forward.
How To Engage an Executive Sponsor
So, who needs to be involved in fund administration software implementation?
We recommend having a senior-level champion from the top of the organization to guide the process and lend support. There should also be a mid-level employee involved who is more hands-on with the firm’s technology and applications day-to-day but is still senior enough in the organization to really understand how their business processes work. This person must know what data needs to be tracked and he or she must also who have enough authority within the organization to effectively engage other senior executives for feedback.
For employees working with the new technology partner implementing new software, communication is key to engaging your executive sponsor. Keeping in mind that everyone is busy, but also that this is a high-value project for the future of the company. Here are some tips for engaging your executive sponsor from Guide to Project Management:
1. Be Trustworthy: Trust is built over time, but executives will be more inclined to engage with you and the project if they trust what you are doing. You can build trust by delivering on your promises, completing tasks, and showing that you know what it takes to get it done.
2. Be Structured: Being structured in the way you plan, communicate, and execute helps set expectations (and also helps build trust!) It’s easier for an executive to engage with someone they know isn’t going to waste their time by being disorganized.
3. Be Clear: Speaking of not wasting time, also ditch the jargon and technical terms in your communications. They don’t have time to try to figure out what you’re talking about, keep it simple, clear, and concise.
4. Be Transparent: Hiding from problems won’t help you in almost anything, and working with an executive sponsor is certainly no exception. Be transparent about problems the project is facing, and they can help you. At minimum, they would rather know about a problem up-front than be surprised about it down the road.
5. Be Flexible: Every person and project is different, so be prepared to be flexible in your communication type and style. Some people are more formal than others. Some prefer details while others just need an overview. Make sure you’re tailoring your communications and expectations to the project and/or the people you are working with.
It is difficult to understate the significance of executive sponsorship in the implementation of fund administration software. Identifying the right executive sponsor for your implementation project is an important part of your planning phase and should not be taken lightly. Without the right people backing the decisions and driving the implementation in the right direction, even the best-fitting software system can fall flat and wind up a useless tool in a year.
Looking for more information on how the process of transitioning your data from your Excel or your legacy software? To learn more about implementing fund manager software, download our free guide to data and technology by clicking the button below.