What to consider when assessing Salesforce for your Private Equity Firm
Salesforce is a good option for fund managers who want to streamline fundraising, improve portfolio management, and gain a competitive edge. However, there are a variety of ways that fund managers can implement Salesforce and some shortcomings of Salesforce out-of-the-box that are important to understand.
Our team at Altvia has decades of experience using Salesforce for alternative investing and have seen every permutation of Salesforce for private equity.
To help you take a holistic look at each possible solution, its features, customization possibilities, support, and costs, we’d like to share the options and shortcomings that we’ve seen so you can ensure the best fund management software investment is made for your firm, from the beginning.
Out-of-the-Box Salesforce Solution
Usually, when a fund manager starts to consider Salesforce, the first option they look at is the standard Salesforce out-of-the-box option. If you’re considering this option, the thing to be aware of is license costs.
Often, with Salesforce out-of-the-box, fund managers end up paying for licenses that are irrelevant to their industry. For example, the Salesforce Sales Cloud is designed for organizations built on a traditional sales model. This platform comes with sales and support features that are not a value-add for private equity and venture capital fund managers. So why pay for features without value?
While Salesforce is a flexible solution, buyers, particularly in the fund and venture capital management segment, should consider whether cost-savings can be achieved through elective, rather than full-service licensing. For further insight, read our blog post on 5 Reasons to Reconsider Salesforce Out-Of-The-Box for Private Equity.
If you determine that Salesforce is the best solution, consider platform licenses rather than full Sales Cloud or Support Cloud licensing—these are expensive licenses that private equity and venture capital fund managers do not need.
The Salesforce Private Equity/Venture Capital Template
Salesforce has a template for Alternative Asset Managers. This is built for managers you prefer the Salesforce platform but want functionality designed for their industry.
Salesforce Private Equity software solutions are far more useful for private equity and Venture Capital Fund managers than the out-of-the-box option described above. However, we’ve found that managers run into issues when they need greater support and customization.
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that Salesforce provides the product support or enhancements that many firms need, which leads to users relying on their own enhancements, support, and maintenance.
While it’s a good example of how customization can benefit the Salesforce platform, it leaves managers who have growing and evolving portfolios with the challenge of not enough support.
Building a Salesforce Custom Database
Salesforce’s flexibility provides users the opportunity to customize its database and structure to accommodate the needs of fund managers. Some of these workflow specificities include fundraising, LP administration, investor management, deal tracking, and portfolio management features.
Advanced users can use Apex code and Visualforce to create customized solutions that automate common fund or deal management processes. Custom solutions provide a far more useful platform for fund and asset managers than out-of-the-box Salesforce solutions.
However, customization does not come without challenges (and costs). The biggest challenge is to determine the best strategy for organizing data. It’s necessary to understand a) your business model and b) how to design tables/charts within the database to reflect that business model.
Common scenarios where this consideration is crucial include organizations…
- with single capital streams vs. those with multiple capital streams
- who make single investments vs. those who make follow-on investments
- that use prior fundraising rounds for valuations round over round
Building your database based on your business model is critical if you want the technology to support your firm and reduce future system modifications and enhancements.
This may be a challenge for those raising funds, but it’s not impossible. However, building a truly extensible relational model will require an understanding of how databases operate and having a concise idea of how that data will translate into a user interface and visual reports. To do this well, we sometimes see firms hire Salesforce consultants which can be where serious costs are incurred.
Questions to Ask During a Salesforce Assessment
Salesforce is a widely selected platform because of its flexibility, scalability, and user-friendliness. To add validity to their success as a management platform, Salesforce was recently named #1 CRM Provider for the Sixth Consecutive Year by International Data Corporation (IDC).
If time and resources can be dedicated to a custom database, an extremely viable Private Equity CRM software can be developed on the Salesforce platform.
However, it’s important to keep these questions in mind as you decide on your Salesforce approach:
- Who will support the system?
- Who will maintain the system?
- How will the solution continue to grow and evolve?
- What happens if the employee who supports and maintains the system leaves the organization?
Similarly to the total cost of ownership calculations often used in on-premise vs. hosted solutions, firms need to keep in mind that initial licenses have the potential to become more expensive down the road, especially if there is no set plan for supporting and maintaining a solution.
The total cost of ownership with prospective licenses should be considered and calculated when comparing options.
Another Option, built for Alternative Asset Management
AIM is a solution built on the Salesforce platform by our team here at Altvia. The system has been implemented by hundreds of fund managers, which has allowed us the ability to build and improve our products based on feedback from clients in private equity.
Relying on feedback from limited partners, and general partners. AIM continues to reflect client input by streamlining the solution to match common challenges that the industry faces.
Benefits of AIM
- Manage contacts and interactions
- Streamline fundraising
- Organize investing opportunities
- Improve investor correspondence
- Connect to and integrate with the other systems you use
- Get performance insights through our Business Intelligence tool, Answers
Because AIM is built for growing and evolving fund management organizations, it’s often less expensive to maintain over time than custom solutions.
With the Salesforce platform as AIM’s foundation, it is simple to implement and drive adoption across organizations. AIM, fund management software, also provides scalability so the product can grow as your firm grows.
Altvia has long-served the Alternative Asset Management industry with increasing knowledge of how software and technology can solve industry challenges.