The Importance of Executive Sponsorship in Fund Administration Software Implementation

It is difficult to understate the significance of executive sponsorship in the implementation of fund administration software.  Without the right people backing the decision 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.

Typically during the sales process, we deal with a small group of decision makers that likely includes the CEO, managing partner, or someone else on the executive level.  Naturally, they do extensive research into which tool is the best fit for their business and they thoroughly vet the company doing the implementation.  Then when they make a purchase decision, they all too often toss the responsibility to lower-level employees with a “here, implement this” sort of directive.

A couple of things usually happen at this point.  First, the employees making design decisions are too low level and so they end up guessing at what information should be tracked and how the system should be configured.  Then when the executives who made the buying decision see the system for the first time, they’re disappointed to see that they system only meets, say, 75% of the needs they hoped it would.  So they suggest additional fields that need to be added.

By then an internal team has likely spent hours importing data into their new system according to the fields they established initially.  So when fields are added retroactively, that data needs to be exported, amended, and re-added to the system which takes time.  If the data for the new fields isn’t added, we end up going through training with incomplete data and it’s more difficult for the team to see the potential for their new system if there is no data in it, which means they are less likely to use the system right away and less likely to learn how to use it effectively.

So who needs to be involved?  We recommend having a senior-level champion at the top of the organization to guide the process and lend support.  The second person who should be involved should be a mid-level employee who does more of the dirty work 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 senior executives for feedback.