When CRM Doesn’t Work for Fund Management

It’s a scenario we encounter a lot.  A fund manager brings on a CRM system to manage their fundraising or investing, they had heard that this system does everything, that it will solve all of their problems as soon as they turn it on, and 6 months after implementation it sits virtually idle.  New users are frustrated, they vow to get to it soon, maybe management decides to renew for a month, maybe there’s an intern who can take a stab at it.  At this point, it’s unlikely that this organization will ever be successful using this CRM without changing course, but getting rid of it altogether isn’t the only option.

The reality in this case is that it’s not really the CRM’s fault.  Most CRM systems are very customizable so when people hear it does “everything,” that’s not too much of a stretch.  So our recommendation for a fund manager at this inflection point might sound heretical in the business world: throw good money after bad.  The likely reason for why the system isn’t working probably has more to do with a hasty implementation and not thinking through the process thoroughly enough than it does with a poor software choice.  Taking a step back and investing some time and effort (and yes, probably more money) can pay huge dividends to fund managers who do it right.

How do you do it right?  Go back to square one.  Think about why you implemented in the first place.  What issues were you trying to solve the first time around?  Are the drivers for your decision still valid?  Did you get users’ input on how to configure the system?  Every fund manager is different and the problems each wants to solve are different.  So if someone simply “turned on” a software solution, these are steps that they likely overlooked, yet they are steps that can greatly improve the effectiveness of your system, especially if the implementation team understands your business processes and can align the system with the goals you are trying to accomplish.

It’s also important to ask if you had sufficient buy-in from executive sponsors the first time around.  Without it your project is doomed.  And finally, acknowledge that getting strong user adoption requires changing people’s behavior and will likely involve significant change management efforts.

Ultimately, thinking through the implementation and having buy-in from management and from users are as important to the long-term success of your software as the functionality it offers.