“Free” Software Implementation vs. Building a Strong Foundation

If you’ve been through an enterprise-level software implementation you know it can be a challenging—some would say “traumatic”—event.

The prospects we talk with who are evaluating our AIM customer relationship management (CRM) solution and other fund management systems seem to fall into one of two camps: people who have been through unsuccessful implementations in the past and people who have yet to go through any implementation at all. Notably absent are people who say, “Our software implementation went really smoothly!”

Not surprisingly, there’s skepticism about the value of an assisted software implementation and whether it’s a worthwhile investment. And, muddying the waters is the fact that a “free” software implementation—meaning no formal implementation at all—is an approach that some firms take. However, as we explain below, that process typically ends up being worth exactly what you’ve paid for it.

The Case for an Assisted Software Implementation

A software implementation is like the foundation of a house. The foundation is what you build everything else on. You may remodel or redecorate, but the foundation is solid, supportive, and unchanging.

For fund managers or LPs investing in funds, an effective software implementation puts the company in a great position to evolve and grow over time. That’s because the software can adapt to accommodate new processes and requirements as a firm expands from, say, managing one fund to managing five or more.

Without that strong foundation, you might get a couple of years into a new system and find that changes are much more difficult to make. In fact, you may end up scrapping the system altogether and starting from scratch because that’s easier than reworking a system that wasn’t providing the right support for your operations from the start.

Why a “Free” Implementation Is Sometimes Worth Exactly $0

It’s easy to see why it’s common for software purchasers to think that a CRM solution or other fund management system should work “right out of the box.” After all, we’re very used to downloading a product from our app store of choice, opening it, and using it immediately.

However, enterprise software is a different animal that requires a different mindset for two reasons. First, when you buy an app, there’s usually no need to migrate data from another system into it. Second, apps are developed based on groups of users who have very similar sets of requirements. The same can’t be said for firms, which tend to have very unique focuses, processes, and goals.

If you have no existing data to import and you have very generic requirements, a “free” software implementation might work for you. But that scenario is rare.

The vast majority of firms have at least a little data that they want to import as part of their software implementation. And, more importantly, they have certain unique processes that are best supported by systems that are tailored to their needs. In fact, without unique processes, firms tend to struggle to set themselves apart from competitors.

So, setting aside some resources for formal software implementation is essential to setting your firm up for success.

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