Your Fund Management Software is Implemented. Now What?

Previously, we wrote about some of the most important things to keep in mind during the initial phases of your fund management software implementation. As mentioned, the initial stage can be the most daunting and crucial step in ensuring that your implementation is successful and that you fully leverage your software. Already you should be able to see light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s some work to do before you reach it.

After the initial phase of implementation is what we might, for lack of a better term, simply refer to as the “middle phase.” During the middle phase, your team will likely expand its use of the system and you’ll finally start to see some of the fruits of your diligent data entry labor.

A few recommendations to keep in mind during this period:

Expand your software implementation gradually. Run a 5K before you attempt a marathon.

The middle phase is when you’ll want to start thinking about expanding the functionality of your system by adding things like more fields and modules. There are a number of additional modules within AIM that we often find clients capitalizing on at this point. Many of them are included in your license and just have to be turned on.

For instance, you may be tracking all of your deal or fund information in AIM and now you’d like to add metric tracking so you can note the performance of each of those deals or funds. Or, you may be tracking investor information in AIM might want to add the Investor Correspondence module at this point so you can start communicating more easily and seamlessly with investors from within AIM.

The right time to add functionality depends on how much tolerance your organization has for change. It’s similar to training for a big race. If you start with a 5K and then build up to a 10K or a half marathon before the full marathon, you’re going to benefit from that extra experience and conditioning. Similarly, clients who try to implement too much functionality right out of the gate often end up doing everything marginally well and not quite as effectively as they might have if they had staggered the steps of their software implementation.

Access all the analytics and reports your software implementation has promised.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the middle phase is that you can finally start getting valuable data out of the reports and dashboards that might have sat unused during much of your initial software implementation phase. That moment when you run a report that finally has significant data behind it and you find that a critical assumption you’ve been operating under is wrong is both shocking and a testament to the need for fund management software. It’s one of the main reasons software like AIM exists.

For example, if you’re tracking data on your incoming deals, you might finally see historical trends on where the most deals are coming from, where the most lucrative deals are coming from, and how long it’s taking for deals to move through their pipeline. If you’re evaluating specific types of funds, you might notice how the average fund size in that sector changed over the last three years. You also might see what your return-on-investment capital looks like year over year and by sector to get a better sense of performance and trends over time.

The added insights you get from this level of reporting are extremely valuable and can help GPs make better-informed, future-focused decisions. Many of the tools required to get to this level of reporting are included with AIM. Others are built into the Salesforce platform and simply require a bit of configuring. In addition, there are a number of third-party reporting tools like CongaMerge and Tableau that can provide even deeper, more specific reporting functionality.

So, if the initial stage is all about choosing the right fields and populating them, this stage is about compiling all that data to get reports and analytics. It’s decision support at a level of detail that you’ve never seen before.

Start to think about integrating third-party apps.

It’s also helpful in the middle phase to consider how third-party applications can help you manage your data more effectively and get more of competitive advantage out of it. There’s an app for virtually anything you want to do, of course, including:

  • M&A data integration apps
  • AI-driven data enhancing apps
  • Market information apps
  • Data cleansing apps

And this is just the short list. The time you invest in carefully assessing all your needs and the apps that can address them pays for itself in efficiency gains in no time. And a great place to start your research is in the Altvia Care Community.

Don’t Confuse the Software Implementation Middle Phase With Half Time

From the name, it would be easy to think of the software implementation middle phase as a period of relative downtime. On the contrary, it’s a time to carefully but actively seek ways to increase the value that your software delivers to users.

This post is another installment in our series on best practices during the various stages of your software life cycle. Read the first post on What to Focus on During your Fund Management Software Implementation here.

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.

fund management software